You’ve attended your first couple of adult ballet classes and discovered that you REALLY love it! The classes are challenging and exciting and creative, just what you were looking for. How then do you survive the highs and lows, and build on that initial thrill?
There is no doubt that ballet is hard. Returning or starting as an adult is a big deal, and one to be applauded. One of the most important things for survival is perspective. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same applies for your ballet technique! In our hard and fast world where instant gratification is the norm, it’s easy to forget that some things take time. Company ballet dancers train for longer than any other profession, and usually for a much shorter career. Regardless of your motivation for stepping into the ballet studio, it’s important to cherish the continuing journey. Your survival in the ballet world is dependent on it!
Body maintenance?! What?! Body maintenance simply refers to taking care of your active body. Ballet as an adult means that you are dancing with an ageing body, regardless of your age. As a child, exercising was a breeze. There was no need to worry about how you were going to feel tomorrow, no need to feel concerned for sore muscles or whether you were going to feel like getting out of bed! As an adult we all understand the real possibility of aching muscles. For your body’s survival it is crucial that you look after it. There is no magic trick, it’s just a matter of common sense. Warming up properly, stretching after class… Making time to care for your muscles will ensure dancing longevity and improvement in your technique.
Ah, commitment… How we love that word! Commitment is one of the driving forces that will ensure your survival through the tough times. How do you choose between the couch and a glass of wine on a cold night, or your ballet class? Commitment! It’s the unparalleled feeling of doing something wonderful for your body and soul! How do you choose between the fan on a hot summer’s day and your ballet class? Commitment! It’s the joy of feeling the warmth invade your muscles, feeling them limber and responsive to the movement. How do you choose between going home after a difficult day at work and your ballet class? Commitment! It’s the uplifted feeling that nothing else but ballet will give. When you commit to your classes, even on the rough days, you will find that not only is your ballet class about creativity and exercise, it can also be therapeutic and form part of your mental health defense.
There are times along the ballet journey when you will need a bit of inspiration. Perhaps you felt that your last class didn’t give you the same kick as usual. Everyone needs a hit of inspiration now and then, and it can come in different ways. The most obvious one is to go and watch a performance. There is nothing quite like going to the ballet – the sense of occasion, the drama of the performance, recognising steps that you do in class! This is one way to reignite your inspiration. Other subtler ways might be doing a class with a different teacher. All teachers have a unique perspective and a different way of expressing their creativity, and this can feed your ballet self. If nothing else there is always YouTube! There are many inspiring ballet clips to watch and make you feel hungry for your next class!
Learning, or reconnecting with ballet as an adult is a wonderful experience. There are many positive aspects to your ballet journey – people to meet along the way, beautiful music to dance to and a creative way of exercising, to name a few. It’s important to remember that for survival in this ballet world (and to thrive!) it helps if you look after your body and commit to the journey, nurture your inspiration and remember that the journey IS the ballet adventure!