Outside the Studio

November 28, 2001

When I stop and think about all the long years I’ve been studying ballet (20, to be exact), I always realize how much it has influenced the person I’ve become since I started.  It’s unavoidable, when you’ve been working on something so hard for so long.  But since ballet has both its positives and negatives as a discipline, it’s shaped me, and everyone else, I’m sure, in both good and not-so-good ways.


On the good side, ballet has taught me so much about respect.  In class or rehearsal, I always admire the teacher or director’s depth of knowledge and command of the technique or repertoire.  It’s a given that they know so, so much more than I do about ballet, and probably more than I do about myself as a dancer, and that kind of wisdom commands deep appreciation and respect.  As a result, I’ve learned to treat all my teachers, mentors, bosses, and elders with the deference that their stature and ability to educate me deserves.  Humility is always a good quality to possess, in addition to a good work ethic, which is also something that ballet can give you.  Nobody works with a more single-minded and earnest intensity than ballet dancers, and having high expectations for the results of that work makes you a valuable member of any team out there in the world.


However, as we all know, ballet can also influence you in some negative ways.  The self-doubt that often comes with the territory can bleed into other areas of your life, hindering the progress you can make both inside and outside the studio.  Constantly striving to do your best and never being content with what you do, an attitude many dancers share, can also work against you when you find that you don’t seem to be able to step back and be proud of yourself.  The secret is being able to combine the humility that has taught you to always work harder, and the confidence that comes from the good results you get from that hard work.  Achieving this balance will not only make you a happier dancer, it will make you a happier person.