Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Difficult Decision

As October passed into November the number of rehearsals I attended grew.  I wasn't eager to admit to anyone how unhappy I was, even to those I'm closest to.  One day I couldn't stand to keep it to myself anymore, and I reluctantly told my mom that things were not turning out quite the way I planned.  I think she must have sensed it because she didn't seem surprised.  We decided that I should get through Nutcracker to see if I enjoyed being in a show before determining whether or not I would continue pursuing a career in dance. I still loved to dance so I thought it was wise not to quit.
 The month of November was a time for reflection.  I learning quite a bit about myself as I thought long and hard about what it was that drew me to ballet.  I started to see a pattern when I realized I enjoyed taking class, and the best days were the ones that didn't include any rehearsals.  I liked the regular routine of barre and center, and it was a thrill to accomplish something I had previously struggled with.  My list of reasons for why I love ballet did not contain the performing aspect of it.  A  performer lives for dancing in front of an audience, but maybe I'm only meant to dance for myself.  I had assumed that because I love ballet I would be blissfully happy dancing on stage, but I was beginning to see that wasn't the case.
Thanksgiving drew near and I was looking forward to having some time off.  Unfortunately the ballet mistress planned my break for me, scheduling rehearsals from ten until two on Saturday and Sunday.  I had been expecting a few days off and was disappointed because I wanted to pick out a Christmas tree with my family, go to church with them on Sunday, and get some much needed distance from the negativity I'd been drowning in.  Even though I was able to get the tree Saturday after rehearsal, knowing I would be back at the studio the very next day for the same amount of time took something away from the experience. I couldn't help but dread what awaited me Sunday.
The sacrifices I was making for Nutcracker would have made sense if I truly desired being on stage.  I was willing to put up with all the bad stuff when I thought it would ultimately lead to happiness, but when I realized I didn't actually care for performing I lost all motivation.  I didn't want to finish out the Nutcracker, but I had to didn't I?  I was sure the carefully planned cast list would be thrown off if I was no longer in the show, or that I would look weak by backing out.  My mom said it wasn't weak to remain true to who you are, and my dad was strongly against me spending the holidays depressed, yet I couldn't convince myself that I shouldn't just suck it up and get through it.  The other girls would surely have things to say about me.  I had already left once, and now after asking the teachers to accept me and let me come back I was quitting again.  I also felt like I was letting down my teacher who had taken such an interest in me, and seemed genuinely excited about my future.  If I really decided to back out of Nutcracker, what would everyone think of me?


  1. Oh, girl, you have the art of suspense mastered. I'm aching to know what happened. Looking forward to your next post. :)

  2. You don't have to only dance for yourself...
    - I can also tell you right now that the feelings of depression and dissapointment only come from the one who want's you to fail, which is Not the Lord!

    - There comes a great satisfaction/assurance from the knowing and loving of the Lord Jesus! - *He* can take away all those feelings and make you feel new inside!

    - i know that the going gets hard when things don't seem to be going our way, -and believe me! I've had my share of disappointments, overworked tiredness, and depression, but when i remember that what I'm going through *right then* is going to make me stronger in the long run, it is all worth it!

    Run to Jesus when you feel the weight of this world upon you shoulders!


    ~ A Christian Ballerina ~

  3. Hey Elizabeth, I just realized my first comment may have sounded dismissive--I really enjoy reading your blog because you have an honest voice and your journey as a ballerina is fascinating BUT I am so, so sorry that dancing with the company and the lifestyle that came with it did not turn out as you expected or even as a positive experience. What I meant to say earlier was that I really, really hope it all worked out and that I am anxious to hear what happened. Also, I agree with the Christian Ballerina who commented above me, lean on Christ! He is a great help.

  4. Hey Elizabeth,

    Ballet is tough.
    Especially during the holiday seasons when we see family and friends enjoying each others company and we are stuck in the studio, being shouted at until our body aches....and then being asked to push for more.

    I wonder why i do it?
    I wonder why something that at times can make me feel so unhappy can also at other times make me so happy.

    I was a very small child when i decided to become a ballerina....a very stubborn small child.

    So many people told me that i couldnt do it, i didnt have what it took. Even when i did become a professional dancer people were constantly telling me that i wasnt good enough.

    But i didnt care, because i knew that it didnt matter what they thought, what mattered was my drive within....if i wanted to do it i could...and i did want it oh so much....

    i truly believe that because i dreamed it i achieved it.

    But recently that drive that kept me going though all those hard times has begun to weaken...and i think that for me its just been time that has brought me to this weakness, all those years that i missed out on what other people had....all those years putting up with all the crap....

    when i'm on stage i remember why i do it....
    but those moments are becoming to fleeting to keep me pushing forward now.

    oh dear, this comment wasnt meant to be all about me....back to you....

    Ballet is tough, and you will miss out on things that other people have....but you will also discover a world that you can never explain to the ordinary Joe will develop talents and life skills that will benefit you in all areas of your life....never regret those things...

    but it is a commitment...a commitment of dedication and sacrifice...and you have to have the drive....i believe that being driven will always trump being a technical genius.

    look deep in yourself and see if this is just a bump in your drive.....

  5. Thanks everyone for the kind and caring comments, I was touched to read them all.
    To Christian ballerina-I have found strength in Christ, and prayed everyday that I would make the right decision. I believe he led me down the right path.
    To Hannah-Don't worry, I never found anything you said dismissive. I appreciate all of your comments and I'm glad your reading my blog.
    To The Childlike Empress-Thanks for everything you said. I have looked deep within to try and figure out if I should stop or keep going, and I'm happy with my decision. I admire your drive, perseverance, and realizing your dream, and I do hope you find your happiness in ballet again. The problem I have is that being on the stage isn't rewarding for me personally, so I don't even want to be a professional dancer anymore. I think I'm just not meant to be a performer.