It’s been two years in the making.
Two years since I began at Elancé as a beginner, immersed in the curious world of bun nets, spiky balls and convertible tights.
Two years since I stepped into the studio and fell in love with the way ballet makes me feel.
It was a place I never expected to find myself, let alone as an adult. Those first classes seem like a lifetime ago now, but who could forget the racing pulse, sweaty palms and hints of panic waiting for the music to start?
How intoxicated I was by the challenge of this strange and beautiful new universe.
The rules and rituals of ballet hooked me from the start. Class traditions that are so comforting in their familiarity, yet always possessing the air of a special occasion.
I hated not rising to that occasion. Making mistakes. Finishing out of time with the music. With each misstep, my cheeks burned and I would console myself in the futile hope that nobody saw me falter.
In our lives, we’re so often encouraged to keep it together and carefully curate what others see — at work, in public, on social media. Being at the mercy of the music in a ballet studio represented a loss of control that I just wasn’t comfortable with.
It was being forced to relinquish that control that helped me to finally let go.
Two years and 150 classes down, things feel different now. Confidence has come with time.
I never expect it to be easy: it wouldn’t be ballet without the agony and the ecstasy.
But in the studio — once a place of intense vulnerability — I feel freer than ever.
Class is a time when I can count on feeling at my most beautiful, in my bun and chiffon skirt.
Yet ballet offers me more than a fleeting sense of grace or grandeur: it’s a morale boost that ripples beyond the studio, arming me with tenacity to tackle life’s uglier moments.
I embody a bolder, braver persona when I’m dancing, slipping into character and peeling away layers of self-consciousness and doubt.
They say that “all the world’s a stage” and I’ve found there’s nothing better than a glittering, ballet-inspired performance to shed my insecurities outside the studio as well.
In the corporate world, when presenting a report or pitching an idea, could I not just wheel out my stage persona, unburdened by the anxieties of my real self?
My persona might be a character from ballet-lore. In the boardroom, I could strategise with the deftness of Carabosse, or seduce people to believe in my vision with the pluckiness and attack of Odile.
But it might just be that better version of me. That momentarily fearless girl at the barre, right before I take my breath. Strong and stunning and powerful and free. Ready for a challenge.
Ballet is my secret weapon. A silent ally reminding me of an infallible, more confident version of myself.
A failed campaign at work is no tragedy to rival Romeo and Juliet, but an opportunity to realign. I know to simply shift my weight, comfortable in the knowledge that my centre is always there, waiting for me to find it again.
My ballet secret is the quiet murmur in the back of my mind telling me “actually yes, you can do this.” If you can do ballet, you can do this.
But that’s not to say I’ve never let my secret slip.
There are stolen moments for serious practice. A relevé to reach a dish in the staff kitchen, a delicate port de bras to retrieve a dropped pen, or a petit jeté to pass time in the photocopy room.
When caught in the act, my heart races. The familiar twang of self-consciousness is back. But I always hear the same voice in my head:
“Whatever you do, do it beautifully…”
Controlled lower from demi pointe.
Swift but spectacular exit offstage.
Out of the photocopy room, and back to reality.
But only until my next performance.
By Nadia Boyce