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Fiz

What Does Ballet Mean to You and Your Dcs?

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Following on from Nicola’s thread about ballet outfits, I thought of this as I have just seen this tweet “A lady in hospital wants me to mention how magnificently the staff have been treated her and her lung cancer. I have to do it quickly as she has a ballet class shortly”! Obviously ballet is helping this brave dancer keep going. So what does ballet mean to you and your children? Watching it transports me to a more beautiful but often sadder world. Dancing makes me feel on top of the world when I have a great class, dejected if I have a bad one. It makes me feel energised and better about myself if it goes well and the reverse if it doesn’t. It makes me want to commit myself to it 100% and if I can’t do that, I am dissatisfied with myself. Just recently I felt too lacking in spare energy to dance but now I have decided - almost- to stop dancing, I wonder if I am making the right decision. Ballet has sucked me in wholesale since I was three and I still can’t let go. 

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I don't feel dejected if I have a bad class, I just know it's part of doing the work. Some days that doesn't go so well, but so long as the work is being done that's ok. It's frustrating in the moment, but in the long term it's all part of the process. 

 

As to giving 100%: we're not professionals. We give what we have, we do what work we can given the resources of time and energy we have spare. Unless you have complicated medical issues (or it's a choice between dance and sufficient sleep!) I tend to think the energy invested in dance or martial arts (which are pretty much the same thing except batterié instead of battery) tends to be repaid many times over. 

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I have posted before about an elderly lady that we know, who was a professional ballet dancer for 10 years in the 1960s. She has dementia now and it has almost destroyed her short term memory. She doesn't always recognise people, or remember whether she has had anything to eat, but ask her about the roles that she danced and she can remember every single detail. For Christmas her friends bought her a pair of pointe shoes, the first she had had in over 50 years. She was just so thrilled  - she  likes to take them out of the bag and look at them and it makes her very happy. That's what ballet still means to her.

Edited by mnemo
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What's made you decide to stop, Fiz? I think that would be such a shame.  

 

I've adored ballet and ballet music since I was about 4 or 5, but wasn't allowed to continue lessons after the first year.  I didn't get into watching ballet until I had my daughter, but although I would dearly love to learn to dance, now my disabilities won't allow me to.  Sitting in a wheelchair, "dancing" with one good arm, would be worse and more frustrating than not dancing at all.  It would have to be all four limbs or nothing. :)  So I have to content myself with watching ballet which has become my escape.  I think that's why I prefer "story" ballets to abstract ones; I can appreciate the beauty and the dancers' lines in the latter but it's only in ballets like Manon, Onegin, R&J etc that I can really lose myself in the music, the drama, the all-encompassing beauty of brilliant choreography and dance-acting.  It means 2 hours where I can enter a different world.  

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I am not strong enough to attend classes regularly, Anna. Also I haven’t found a school that really compares to the ones I attended in Hertfordshire.

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Ballet and dance in general goes beyond the person who can complete the most pirouettes, who has the best over split or tilt. Dance is a mental attitude that carries itself over into everyday life, manners, elegance, etiquette, respect, deportment, spatial awareness, strong work ethic, dedication, not forgetting the obvious, fitness the list goes on. Whether you just trained for a few years or it overtook your entire life and you entered the professional world of dance. You live and breath the mind-set of a dancer. The work ethic will show even whilst in a office along with other co workers (as pointed out to me by the male members of the office a few years back). 

 

Maybe if more children in particular teenagers could access ballet then their academic teachers would notice a vast improvement within their own classrooms for behaviour and attitude towards learning and thus an improvement in grades, even the toughest of environments. My DD's Yr 11 Mentor at school recently said that she would like to "bottle the work ethic of the dancers in the year group and sprinkle it over the others".  I think that sums it up beautifully . 

 

 "Friends that dance together stay together" :wub:

 

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7 minutes ago, Fiz said:

Yes, one of them is like that, Anna, plus you have to sign up to membership too.

 

You could do with drop-in classes which you could go to when you feel well enough. 

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26 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 

You could do with drop-in classes which you could go to when you feel well enough. 


although not health related ,  having to sign up for a term a time  can be a pain for adults ,  especially  if working patterns  mean  you'll not  be able to make  every  week ... 

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Interesting question. I was talking to DD about this at Christmas when we were watching a ballet on TV. For me, it was just entertainment and I was enjoying the story, the music and the spectacle. DD was analysing everything. She says particularly now she's learning more about choreography she's always looking beyond the surface, and trying to learn something from every performance which I guess is good in a way, but does take some of the fun and "magic" out of it. I suppose it's inevitable really, a bit like my friend who is a hotelier comes home from every holiday with either a list of criticisms of where she stayed or a list of new ideas for her staff to implement!

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Ballet to me is not only joy; it is a lifeline.

 

On the few occasions where I feel nearly too tired/down/anxious to take class, I almost invariably come out with more life, more energy and the knowledge that I can carry on. The movement, the routine, the clearly formulated social interactions, the music, all bring me calmness, joy and peace. It's one of the few places I can (usually) forget about everything else.

 

Even when I was younger and not dealing with some of the issues I now have, my family noticed before I did that I am grumpy when I don't dance!! In my teens, I grumbled once in the holidays, "I don't know why I just feel really irritable and horrible." "Well you haven't been dancing for 3 weeks. You're always in a bad mood when dancing's not on." Since then I have made it a priority, not just for my enjoyment, but for my wellbeing and that of those around me!

 

It almost broke my heart when I thought at 16 I would have to give it up. I spent days in tears, and actually, my need to dance has been a huge part of my personality development. I never would have had the confidence to take action in many contexts if my sheer determination to dance hadn't shown me that I can do things. Ballet has given me not only co-ordination, a hobby and a place to be calm and joyful, but confidence in my ability to contribute: my self-worth. We all have our bad days, and I am a perfectionist so I rarely meet my own ideals, but in the studio I learn that it's OK not to be perfect. Some days things work and some days they don't. I have made amazing friends through ballet, which compounds its effects on my wellbeing. 

 

As I am reflecting writing this, I am realising even more how much ballet has done for me! It's almost as if my normal life rules don't apply in the studio. I can contribute, my opinion does matter, it doesn't matter if I get it wrong, it is OK to speak to people. I think many of the important things I have learnt in life I have discovered and practised in the studio and then taken out into the world. What a gift that is!

 

As to whether to keep dancing Fiz, I tend to think it depends on whether it is helpful to you or not. If the frustration when it goes badly (how well I know it!), the spending of valuable energy resources and other negative effects will outweigh the joy and positive effects, then it is no longer serving you helpfully. Just because it used to be good, doesn't mean you can't let it go if you need to. If you do choose to let it go, you're right, it probably will always have a part of you and you will grieve for it. I have a similar relationship with music. It is painful to me now because that world was no longer good for me. I can still love and appreciate it, but from a distance, and I think that is OK for now. It doesn't mean we can't go back in the future if things change (somebody pointed this out to me recently!), and I may start taking tentative steps back towards music. Whatever decisions you make now, you can always change your mind in the future if circumstances or opportunities change. I came across a quote recently: "I give up. Not because I have failed but because I have learned." I think it was in the context of giving up trying to be perfect, but it has really stuck with me and I think can apply in a lot of areas!

 

I hope that dancing finds you again and reminds you what it has to give, but don't feel you have to stay yoked to it if it's not helpful at the moment. You may find something that gives equally well but in a different way around the corner. I'm sure there are people on many diverse internet forums discussing what their particular hobby means to them!

 

 

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I had dipped in and out of dancing, only starting ballet at 19. Gave up when I had small babies, and went back when they were a bit older... stopped again when pregnant (at 40) with DD 15 years ago and have been doing Pilates instead ever since (plus exercycle and walking). I was 'resigned' to watching DD for a couple more years and just trying to keep my body strong as I get older, but recently have seen a mix of discussion on this forum plus publicity about older dancers, and someone posting a video on my Facebook of a lady in her seventies still dancing en pointe...

 

This all got me thinking... basically it was pride stopping me going back to ballet as I knew it wouldn't look good any more. I also didn't want to embarrass DD by taking adult class at her school, but she thinks it's a great idea. So I'm starting next month!

 

For me, no other form of exercise also speaks to my heart and soul like ballet. Perhaps another sort of dance would do the same, but this year I'm going to focus on working with the music and exercising body, mind and spirit – and not worrying about how I look or how old my body feels.

Edited by Cara in NZ
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