Currently, ballet class class is an occasion for many people to increase their conditioning and their concentration and that’s great. On the other hand, I feel that the ballet community is becoming so technical and precise that we are losing the true purpose of ballet class: to dance!
Somebody once came up to me while I was happily eating a cinnamon roll with my friends before class, and said, “You know, there is no point in taking class if you are just going to regain all of those calories.” I thought that was a very peculiar comment to make to someone happily eating a cinnamon roll in the first place, but regardless of my astonishment, I didn’t take offense.
On the contrary, it made me realize what the real purpose of ballet class is, namely, to dance. If you are only taking class to burn calories, improve your technique, impress your teachers, or apply corrections that you have previously gotten, why are you doing this? Is the outcome worthy?
Sports players condition themselves and practice a lot so that they can win a game and enjoy the victory. Mostly, why do ballet dancers work so hard? The answer is, because they want to be able to dance, to perform and to let go. So sometimes, including in class, you have to be able to get that reward and goal of dancing.
Overall though, the real purpose of ballet class isn’t to burn calories, apply corrections or work on your technique. It is to enjoy yourself and to dance. And while all of the reasons I mentioned before are very important, the overall goal should sometimes be reached. So, if you are having a bad day, or need to just let go and dance happily, then eat that cinnamon roll before class and just dance. It will surprise you how much stuff just falls into place when you are really dancing.
This leads me into my next point. Many dancers tend to overthink things and try way too hard. If you were to just go out to a party, let’s say an old-fashioned party, and just dance out on the floor, with a partner or without, would you be able to do it? Yeah. Most dancers these days would be too focused on their technique, pointing their feet, where to step, and impressing the people around them to really let go and experience the joy of dancing.
In my opinion, the better dancers are the ones that aren’t so concerned with their technique, how many pirouettes they do, or how cranked their turnout is. They just dance and show the audience what they love to do, and most of that technical stuff just falls into place. Don’t overthink it! If you overanalyze and begin to obsess, you lose the purpose of dancing and why you really love to do it.
If you are too concerned with your technique or that you aren’t good enough, and you feel like everybody is getting ahead of you, and you feel like quitting: take a deep breath. Why do you love dancing? Is it the hard work, the extreme amount of classes, staring at yourself in the mirror 24 hours a day? No. You love dancing because you can let go and get that feeling of freedom and adrenaline. So, stop. Eat a cinnamon roll and just dance.