What the ballet world really needs [on World Ballet Day]
Today is the first ever World Ballet Day!
I’m looking forward to the glimpses I’ll get of that rare blend of focus, fun and fragility in these beautiful people, the similarities and differences in the ballet world the world over and the stirring of the memories and stories and experiences I hold in my own heart being part of this world of ballet.
In my work now as a counsellor and performance psychology teacher, I get to see another very personal side of the behind-the-scenes dancer. I have the very humbling privilege of walking with dancers in their real-life-streaming realities – sometimes tears stream, sometimes it’s untapped thoughts and feelings, at other times life begins to stream again after burnout, injury and loss.
In holding the hopes and hearts of these precious dancers closely, here are my three biggest dreams for the Ballet World today…
Reframing Failure in 5 Baby Steps
So, you’re in ballet class, pirouettes from the corner. Chasse pas de bourree, prepare…
You almost do a nice clean double, except for an annoying little hop at the end. Slightly frustrated, you grit your teeth and tell yourself “get it right next time” as you chasse pas de bourree and prepare for the next turn.
More of a hop, plus you lose your placement.
You sneak a sideways glance at your teacher to check if they noticed your blunder… Phew, you got away with it.
Chasse pas de bourree, prepare…
This time you fling way off balance and your turn is a total write off. You walk away with your head down, pretending you twisted your ankle to avoid facing the terrible reality that… (gulp) you failed.
Your teacher calls out a correction to you. You feel even worse. Nod pathetically and hope they won’t make you repeat it.
Inside, you’re frustrated and angry at yourself, “Why can’t I do this? I’m so crap at turning! This is so humiliating! I’m never going to be able to turn!”
Eventually, you become so afraid of stuffing up your turns that you get all tense and edgy even just thinking about doing a pirouette!
The trouble is, you’re looking at failure all the wrong way.
Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist
For so many years I danced before so many mirrors and really thought that the size of my thighs was the hardest thing to look at.
But all this talk of perfectionism on the blog here is revealing all this stuff in ME that I’d prefer not to look at. Writing about perfectionism is the hardest mirror to look in. Ever.
Here I am trying to help you dancers overcome the darker side of perfectionism, but as I do so, the mirror flips back at me, and I see how I still get trapped, how I still forget to listen to my own advice and trust what I know deep down.
So, as hard to admit as it is, I’m still a perfectionist.
The Problem with Perfectionism
Last month’s blog post really struck a chord with a lot of people (thanks everyone for all the facebook likes and shares!). I am feeling quite humbled, but also compelled to write more… Because although perfectionism is so pervasive in the dance-world, not a lot of dancers are aware of the impact it is having on them, or how it can actually prevent them from performing at their best. So today, let’s delve a little deeper into the dark side of perfectionism...
What’s so bad about perfectionism?
At first glance, perfectionism can seem like an amazing thing, and perfectionists, amazing people. And it’s true – there are certainly many wonderful benefits of perfectionism:
- You work very hard
- You have very high standards
- You are reliable
- You care about what you do
- You pay attention to the most intricate details
- You achieve amazing results
What could be so bad about that???
But there is also a down-side to perfectionism that can be really debilitating.
Why Dancers’ Mental Health Is Vitally Important
2 articles I’ve read recently have just got my blood pumping.
And then just a few days ago, was the shocking story of a talented principal dancer from the Eugene Ballet in the US, who unexpectedly committed suicide, leaving a note for his wife on the door of their home.
Such devastating stories show how *vitally* important it is for dancers to take care of their mental and emotional health.
Lessons for Babies and Ballet Dancers
A chance for me to make a blog post in the midst of baby-brain (and an excuse to show off some proud-mama pics of my gorgeous girl Noemi!). Here are some lessons I'm learning, perhaps you can learn from them too?