WIll I Ever Be At Least an OK Dancer?

May 3, 2011 § 4 Comments

This is a little anxiety question that likely lurks in the back of the minds of many of us who take or have taken adult beginning ballet classes. Naturally if we have an interest in starting ballet at an er, advanced age, chances are we have seen some kind of professional ballet dancing. We see the bodies of professional ballet dancers and see they are perfectly tuned instruments to bring music to life, and they make everything look so easy.

Hmmph.

Then we take a look at our 2 degree turnout (oh my gosh, my left leg has like 45 degree turnout *sob*), our inflexible paddle feet, perhaps our Quazimodo posture or perhaps our ability to count to 8 in a rhythmic fashion is seriously afflicted…and say ‘Ok, Loserville, what are you thinking?’

But don’t give in to the truth, woops, I mean self-doubt! ;O) Sure, none of us started at 2 years old and entered the Vaganova Academy on full scholarship, then debuted as principal dancer for the Bolshoi. BUT this is all about managing expectations, knowing what you are capable of when and, above all, accepting that you are not going to look so great for quite a while. Or downright funny!

Just remember though, you look better than a schmoe who, out of fear, decided to stay home and watch TV instead of getting out and seeing what he/she is capable of. Plus, everybody else looks funny in class, too ;O). You will be surprised at what you can do after a year of taking classes regularly (at least 3 times a week).

I thought some concrete examples might be in order. So ballet steps are a good place to start. I have been taking ballet for about 7 years now, and there are several steps that have always made me nuts. Cabriole, temps de cuisse and tour jete’ (or jete’ entrelace’).

Cabriole I could not do for about 2 years. I would practice over and over and I still looked like someone was kicking me hard in the butt therefore flinging both of my legs forward. And don’t even get me started on my arm! It looked like I was smelling my own armpit! But after 2 years, I could finally do it nicely mainly because I watched this girl who did such pretty cabrioles. I watched her every single time she did one and did my best to imitate her.

Temps de cuisse, erk. Looked like a frog doing jumping jacks. I had to learn this one on my own, just practicing for like 3 years! I was so happy to see myself do 2 correctly in the video of my performance in the 2010 Bach piece!

Tour jete’/jete’ entrelace’….erk. I am still working on this one. It has gotten better. I am mostly terrified of falling while doing this, so perhaps I can get over it. Seven years….this is a tough one to do nicely. I will get it though!!!

So will you ever be at least an OK dancer? Well absolutely if you are consistent about class and watch and imitate the best students. Chances are you will be a really great dancer, and people will be surprised that you started ballet as an adult. I am not bragging, just telling what happens now: when I meet new people in a new class, they always are surprised that I started at 27 years old. Or, they always ask if I have modern dance training.

Keep it up, laugh when you look funny, and feel proud when you start to improve!!!

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§ 4 Responses to WIll I Ever Be At Least an OK Dancer?

  • Hilary says:

    I just started at 26 – my 5th class is tomorrow!

    Last week I started getting frustrated, but I have to keep in mind that the 10 year olds that I dance with, who are already en pointe, have been doing this since they were 3, and that if I practice and make the most out of class, one day I’ll look like them. :)

    Thanks for this, I’ll come back and read it again when I need more encouragement.

  • balletcougar says:

    Hi Hilary! Oh yeah, you will get frustrated! haha But try not to be mad-frustrated, but funny-frustrated :o) Just think you are a dork and laugh about it! You have some major balls to do something where you know you will look silly and foolish for a while……that is awesome!
    And yes one day you too will be a beautiful dancer if you keep practicing. Try to work on a few small things at a time. Take a correction your teacher gives you and try to work on it over several classes, or over however many you need.
    That seems to minimize frustration as you see gradual progress.
    Keep doing it!

  • loveablestef says:

    From the picture I saw of you in a more recent post, you look like a gorgeous dancer, regardless of when you began…in fact it is even more impressive having started at age 27. Way to go. Also, I love your encouraging spirit. I love that you are encouraging other adult dancers, especially the beginners. I have come back to this passion of mine as an adult after burying it deelply for many years. It has absolutely been life changing for me. I’m so grateful I trained in ballet and am currently looking for an adult class of the right level to support me in my new favorite style of dance…ballroom. But I still love ballet, for sure, and will be interested to see more of your posts! Keep up the great work.

    Stefanie, dancingwithstefanie.com

  • arethusameita says:

    Thank you for your very nice courageous support!!

    I just started to try ballet at 24 and just had my first class. I have no basic in ballet and as stiff as a rock, so I know I’ll look terribly funny in class. However, my teacher said i have a beautiful legs and very nice turnout and i did a good job for first timer. But suddenly my friend — who supposed to be my bestfriend — said i was hideous, which sinked down my courage to continue ballet.

    But i found your blog and see it’ll be silly to stop doing what i like just because a jerk who doesn’t even worth my time. I am totally beginner and have no basic and ballet is such a beautiful and difficult dance so of course it’s normal to look funny at the beginning. But still i don’t deserve to be called hideous. I’ll stop listening to him, get a grip, and work hard for my ballet. Thank you again!!!

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