Friday, December 17, 2010

Ballet Dancer Finds Strength

Madeline, a  2011 diploma candidate from Oregon, USA writes in her November 2010 monthly report:

"I have recently been cast in a piece with the second company and that means lots of rehearsals with the director. After several hours of being singled out and yelled at, I took some time to think about what was going on. I knew that the director was a harsh and often offensive person, and that he would never hold back for fear of hurting my feelings, but what I didn’t understand was why he was picking me specifically.

"The first thing I had to consider was the fact that I had been paired with a pas de deux partner for the piece that was both inexperienced and immature. For a while I just became angry because I was getting yelled at for things that I knew were actually his fault, and I felt like he wasn’t even trying. With this frame of mind, we both continued to struggle and I felt like nothing was getting accomplished. Finally, I decided it was time to stop being silently frustrated, and time to get something accomplished. I began letting my partner know every time something was going wrong, and found the strength to tell him it needed to be fixed. I got him up to practice when he was sitting talking, and I made sure he was paying attention when the teacher was correcting. After all this I was expecting him to be upset with me, but instead as things began to improve, we both became more positive and encouraged. This really taught me that being too sweet and weak to tell someone something that’s bothering me may not be the best answer, and that it is helpful to have my own opinion.

"I then took the time to think about the personal reasons why I may be struggling in the rehearsals. I was missing some corrections that I usually would have gotten, and was having a hard time learning the choreography when I am generally a quick learner if I focus. It hit me when one of my good friends said to me, 'I can sense the fear when you are in rehearsal with him; he yells at you because he knows you’re afraid. I can see you shaking and that makes you seem weak; the last thing he wants is an innocent little girl.' They were right, I was afraid, and that was why I couldn’t focus the way I should. I have always struggled with my nerves and I knew that they were affecting me in a negative way. When I get nervous my muscles get very weak and shaky, which causes my legs to give out and is disastrous to my dancing. I made an active decision to relax and take care of my mental health. Nobody was worth having my dancing fall apart, and I know that I have something to offer, it is my job to enjoy my art form and give my best.

"Overall the lesson I learned this month was about having more strength in not only me as a dancer, but me as a person. I am proud of what I have accomplished and feel good about myself and the hard work I put in every day. I am doing what I love and I have that no matter what anybody thinks about me. I am glad to have the opportunities I do and am looking forward to the rest of this year."

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