Dance Like No-one's Watching
Ballet is hard, if you didn't already know. But what's even harder is sharing your ballet journey with the world when you are an adult on the path to learning how to dance it.
I am profoundly touched by the fact I have inspired other adults to give ballet a go. It's takes a brave person to walk into a ballet studio. Until you have done it, you have no idea just how hard it is. You walk in knowing you are not going to be an elegant, graceful dancer and will most likely spend years, not months, years, feeling clumsy, uncoordinated and stupid. You will continually berate yourself for being unable to retain what seems like the simplest of combinations and might even start to hate your own reflection, if you were ever able to confront it in the first place. There are endless reasons why as an adult you would not take up ballet. And yet many of us have.
On Instagram there is a thriving community of #adultballerinas who inspire and encourage each other. Whilst I rarely share images or videos of me dancing, purely because it's not practical to do so, I still try my best to upload ballet related content as often as I can and I enjoy the videos and uploads of other adult dancers who are able to record their classes.
Largely, the responses to our uploads are positive and kind, but I have noticed on other adult dancer's posts, and one of my own, young ballerinas in training are not so kind.
I recently uploaded a post about how shaving down the sides of the soles of your pointe shoes can help you balance when you are standing flat in pointe shoes, which is surprisingly difficult. It was a few of my teachers, all professional ballerinas, who had shown me how to do this and it is common practice among professionals. I shared this little ballet hack and I noticed a conversation that was happening on the comment thread between a few young dancers, which started off well enough, then soon turned into them making personal remarks about me to each other, right down to my tattoos.
Whilst I just deleted the comments, as it was teenage bullshit, it's not the first time I've seen young dancers head over to adult ballet accounts to make personal remarks.
Sharing your journey when you know you have miles and miles to go before you even reach average is hard enough, but when these young dancers visit a person's page just to bring them down, then sharing that journey becomes even harder. I know none of the adult dancers who've experienced this would ever dream of going over to their pages and telling them they'll never make it as a dancer, or that they're fat or have rubbish feet. The thing is, real ballerina's, the professionals, would never dream of doing such things because they have class. It takes class to encourage someone who's not at your level and probably never will be. And that's the difference between them and real dancers. Class.
I don't want adult dancers to be put off sharing their journeys because of these little idiots who laugh at them, point out all their mistakes or less than ballerina thin bodies.
Ballet is about sharing beauty with the world. And even though as dancers, even adult ones, we are our own worst critics, we still try to project only the beauty that ballet can offer. Yes, sometimes our turnout is less than perfect, our thighs might wobble and we can't do the splits in the air, but it shouldn't mean we are so cruelly criticised because of it. Everyone starts somewhere.
These young dancers can point our errors if they wish, but at least offer some helpful advice on how to improve. Basically, show some class. Ballet is beautiful and it's just a shame that our possible future stars are making it so damn ugly.
If you are an adult dancer who is thinking about joining in the community and sharing your journey, do it. Don't let these little twits put you off because what they think means absolutely nothing. Your journey is yours and you are rocking the shit out of it.