December 16, 2014

When You Feel Small, Dance Big

Sometimes, when we are doing agadio, arabesques and attitudes, I see myself in the mirror and think: it's never going to be beautiful. I'll never have the turn-out, lower back flexibility, hyper hip mobility, slender shape, whatnot. Now let me tell you this: it's a train of thought that will get you to Nowhere quicker than you can passé retiré. Don't go there. Instead, take the opposite track. Tendu, fondue, developpé like you have the longest legs in ballet. Stretch as if you're reaching for the stars. Present your extension as if you had diamonds on your heels. Dance big.

More often than not, something is not working the way I want it to. Balances tumble, pirouettes fail, and in the process, my confidence crumbles. It can make me feel small. But this is not the time to cave in. Instead, take out the big guns: the deep pliés, strong center, stretched knees, and pointed toes. Apply the corrections, try again, believe you can - and dance with conviction. When ballet gets hard (and it always does), you get stronger!

"Dance big!" That's what my teacher always keeps telling us. In other words: don't hold back, and don't make yourself small. Reach out, connect fingers with toes (it's a visual), elongate, lift your chin up, look... And see all that you can be. Trust me, it's more than you think. I found that out today, once again. A pirouette diagonal that was not working at all to the right, but then it did to the left. Why? I went back to the basics: plié-ing and push-ing into the floor, closing my opposing arm in quick, not giving up. Because when you're on the floor, that's what you do. You dance full out. Big time.

The best part: dancing big makes you feel not small, but a kind of beautiful.

To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...