We live in the age of instant gratification – you see it, you want it, you get it! But the old adage ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ has never held more truth when applied to the often amazing, sometimes challenging and always uplifting journey of learning ballet.
There is no such thing as fast-tracking ballet technique. The ‘did she, didn’t she’ buzz around Natalie Portman and how she played her role in the movie Black Swan was just that – buzz! It was more about generating interest and less about the reality of learning ballet! Your ballet journey is an accumulative process and should be viewed as a slow burn rather than a quick flame.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t strive to achieve your goals. Goals are very important for keeping focus and maintaining the desire for improvement. Goals are the milestones in your journey that keep inspiring you – the first time you consciously hold a balance in arabesque, or the first time your pirouette is perfectly controlled. Your goals might be centered around how many classes you can manage in a week, or striving to achieve a certain level. It doesn’t matter what they are, as long as you know that your timeframe and what you are trying to achieve is realistic.
However, the goals shouldn’t be the only thing driving your attendance in a ballet class. Something that is very often overlooked is the ability to embrace the journey. Learning ballet as an adult is a personal decision. Ballet is an emotive art form, something that you strive for and create with body and your heart. It makes sense that participating in class should make you feel uplifted and that you should cherish each moment along the way, the good and the challenging. Being able to appreciate the journey is often lost in our quick-grab world, but it is the essence of learning ballet, as the journey lasts forever.
Even if your ballet journey only exists to supplement other activities, it still can’t be fast-tracked. Ballet classes offer a fantastic supporting role to other activities, whether it’s to improve your balance and agility for another dance form or to help you fulfill requirements for an audition. In any situation, it’s important to keep in mind that again, the process can’t be rushed. People know what they are looking for and they know if what they are seeing is authentic or just being faked. This doesn’t mean that the benefits of ballet aren’t immediately available, rather that they will continue to accumulate and flourish over time.
An appreciation of the slow and steady journey is what will keep you returning to the barre. Trying to race through levels and steps to get to the fancy stuff is like building a tower without a foundation, and will only take you on a path of frustration and increase your risk of injury. The slow build on your ballet journey will take you further and bring you greater delights, making you the best dancer you can be.