Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Finding Joy in Ballet

I sometimes wonder if my life would be a lot easier if I wasn't drawn to ballet.  Well the answer to that question is of course it would! 
Ballet is hard, mentally and physically.  There are times when I end up crying over this art that I love so dearly.  But that doesn't seem right, because something that is so a part of you should give you joy not sadness.  Don't get the wrong idea, I do feel enjoyment when I dance and never stop marveling at it's beauty.  There's just that other painful side of ballet that can unrightfully turn what should be a life enhancing experience into a horrible heartache.  The cause of this is focusing on the wrong thing.  Does the girl next to me have her leg higher?  Does the rest of the class have a better chance of getting cast than I do?   And of course there is the dreaded mirror to deal with.   I tend to obsess over every little thing making me forget why I even dance in the first place!
If it's that bad then why bother?  I came to a revelation this past weekend.   I'm going to enjoy ballet again.  It doesn't sound like much, but for someone like me it truly is a breakthrough.  My mind is now occupied by thoughts of putting my soul into dancing, striving to be better but for my own fulfillment.  Not, I can do this? Am I good enough? Or,  How do I compare to my competition?  I only focus on myself and during time spent in the center or at the barre.  It sounds self centered, but its a needed protection against an otherwise inevitable attack on my confidence. 
I recently read an article about a girl who was training to be a ballet dancer.  She allowed herself to be tortured by it as it grew into an unhealthy obsession.  Instead of stepping back and putting ballet into it's place, she quit altogether.  I don't want this to happen to me, so I will let ballet know where it belongs when it starts to step all over me again.  I love it so much, but there is more to life than dance.  Once worried this would distract me from achieving my goal or make me less of a dancer, I was ashamed to admit I might even be open to doing other things with my life. Now I am relieved I can still try to become a professional, but it's not do or die.  If ballet doesn't work out I have other interests to pursue.  While I'm still trying to make my dancing into a career, I'll resist put unnecessary pressure on myself.  Discipline, working hard, and trying my best in everything is different then blaming myself when I can't nail a triple pirouette, or if I fall over during a balance.
The bottom line is God has to be first over ballet and everything else.   Ballet was never meant to take his place as you can see why and what it does to people.  I believe the discipline it teaches along with the work ethic are all very good things, but to drive yourself crazy and let it control your life is never healthy.  I'm happy to be reunited with my first feelings of love toward this beautiful and mysterious way of moving.

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