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So, you want to be a ballerina?

You hear it from countless little girls, twirling in satin and tulle:

I want to be a ballerina when I grow up!

Their eyes fill with wonder and joy and their bodies lilt and sway as they say it. But as little kids get bigger and dancing becomes more serious, the pursuit of this dream can add layers of complexity to the wide-eyed wonder of childhood.

The stakes get higher, the competition gets tougher – all while you are growing up and just starting to work out who it is you really are and what you want for your life!

This can make for some confusing times, when you wrestle with the big question:

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The Pros of Resting (and How to Rest like a Pro)

All around the world, dancers are taking a break right about now… 
In the northern hemisphere you get to enjoy a lovely summer break, 
while down here we get a short winter holiday – but nonetheless a 
time out from the studio! As you get ready to wind down some, 
here are some ideas to switch off, guilt-free and make the most of 
this recovery time toward what lies beyond! :-)


How do you feel coming up to a break from dance?

Ecstatic?   Relieved?   Slightly Uneasy?   Petrified?

Holidays are great! But for many dancers, whether you spend your time off at the coast or in the cafés or on the couch, you are often accompanied by some niggling worries in the back of your mind…

I’m getting out of shape…
I shouldn’t be eating this…
I need to DO something!
I can’t sit still…
I can’t relax too much – I have to stay on top of things!

There is this fear that if you really allow yourself to rest, you’ll “let yourself go,” lose your precious form and ruin your progress.

But seasoned artists know how much they need rest and manage to let themselves really relax – and ENJOY it thoroughly – without guilt or fear of losing their form. And you can too…

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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.

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Puberty has benefits?! [A response to Misty Copeland’s story]

First of all, sorry for the big gap between blog posts! 
I have been busy getting started at the Australian Ballet School, 
teaching some performance psychology classes and working with 
dancers one on one… but I certainly haven’t forgotten you, 
blog readers! Hello again!


Since Fat-Talk-Free month in February, I have been thinking a fair bit about the issue of “fatness” among dancers. Many dancers feel fat (regardless of whether they are or not) and body image plays a big role in our art-form, yet many find it a hard topic to talk about plainly in a helpful way.

So, when I read Misty Copeland’s incredibly powerful article on her journey toward body-confidence last month, I was struck by how clearly her story not only portrayed the issues so many dancers face… but also beautifully outlined the ingredients that have made her transformation such an inspiring “success story”.

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5 Reasons My Dancing Day is Ruined! [Lessons to Learn from The Bolshoi Ballet’s Acid Attack]


This week, Bolshoi Ballet soloist, Pavel Dmitrichenko was sentenced to 6 years in prison for plotting the acid attack on Director, Sergei Filin. Although he did not plead guilty, CNN reports that the dancer wanted “Filin to be punished in some way for failing to give him the roles he wanted”.

Apart from being a punishable crime, this is a tragic event in the ballet world.

And I also see this as an extreme example of something that happens quite commonly among dancers: it’s something psychologists refer to as having an “external locus of control” where instead of believing in your own ability to control your life, you blame circumstances, people or things outside yourself.

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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.

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