When The Worst Happens

November 28, 2001

There was great excitement in our offices here yesterday afternoon, due to NYCB principal Jenifer Ringer’s appearance on “Oprah”.  Aside from Oprah asking the usual, and rather tired, questions about Black Swan (see my earlier post about this topic), there was one thing that Jenifer said that I found very relevant.  She has struggled with an eating disorder in the past, and after Oprah asked her about her reaction to Alastair Macaulay’s infamous comment about her weight, Jenifer said: “My first thought was, ‘It’s happened. My worst nightmare. Somebody has called me heavy in the press and lots of people are going to read about it.’ But then my next thought was, ‘It’s happened and I’m okay and I’m fine the way I am and I have survived it.’ ”


In this blog, I often write about overcoming challenges and believing in yourself.  I write about how beautiful and important ballet is, and offer little tips on how to make your experience of dancing and watching dance better.  But Jenifer’s comment made me realize that there is one thing I’ve never addressed, and which all my advice, or anyone’s, for that matter, cannot prevent: What do you do when your worst nightmare, the worst thing you can imagine, happens in your dancing life?


This “worst thing” means different things to us all.  It could be an injury that stops you from dancing, the loss of a job you love, or a relapse into an eating disorder.  Whatever it is, when it happens, it can seem like a completely insurmountable obstacle; like everything that once gave you happiness and security is gone.  You might think that life will never be good again.  Ballet can be really unfair like that, and a dancer’s life, though beautiful, is often fraught with uncertainty.  As a result of her issues with food, Jenifer left NYCB for a while, and it took time for her to regain confidence and come back.  But come back she did, and when she had to face her worst nightmare, she found that she was stronger than she thought, and she realized that she was fine.  She survived. 


So if I were to never write this blog again, and had to leave you with one final piece of advice, it would be this: Remember why you dance, and know that no matter what happens, you will be fine.  You will survive.