When Failure Is The Only Option


A case of Ballet Brain Drain

Maybe I take it too seriously, but studying ballet as an adult is fraught with tear inducing frustration. For me, the process of learning ballet is filled with peaks and troughs and usually more troughs than peaks, it must be said. Usually, I can ride out the failures, which are plenty, but sometimes they really get to me and make me want to give it all up. I question why the hell I'm even doing this. I wanted to find a creative a way of getting fit as well as expressing myself, but nearly 5 years after starting ballet all I seem to have ended up with is big calves and a bizarrely muscly bum!

I often feel this way after a bad class and it's no surprise that I had bad class on Monday. Well not so much as a bad class as really bad pirouettes.

On Mondays I have pointe class and it's where we attempt to do pirouettes en pointe. Or in my case, not even attempt them.


When it comes to pirouettes en pointe I have developed a severe case of dread. So much so I can't bring myself to even try them now. I used to at least have a go, but now I can't bring myself to even try. My confidence, somewhere along the line, got crushed to such a degree that my body just won't let me try them any more. During a typical pirouette exercise - chasse, pas de bouree, en dehors pirouette from fourth, chasse, pas de bouree, en dehors pirouette from fourth, ronde to face the opposite direction, en dedans pirouette  from fourth, soutenu, pique turn, pique turn, lame duck, land in fourth - I find myself substituting the turns for simple releves and I even do them badly. 

Sometimes, we do a static pirouettes exercise which just involves doing turns from fifth position, which usually I can try, but the travelling exercise with the turns from fourth simply fill me with fear and dread. How do I make my brain get over this horrible fear? Is it even possible to not feel this way, now that the thought has firmly embedded itself in my head? Basically, how do you find the confidence to do something when every fibre of your being cries out against it?

I'm desperate to move on and be able to just at least try. It's so bad I actually sometimes sit out the whole exercise entirely and it's ruining the class for me. Rather than focus on all the things I did achieve in class, I now just focus entirely on that failure. I'm generally a cautious person but usually I give things a shot. My first response is very rarely "I can't do that", so I feel really disappointed in myself but I really can't see a way out of this mindset.