I had lunch with my old dance teacher and a couple of dance friends on Saturday. We–of course–talked about dance and where we were and what she was up to. She told us of some former students of hers who are now at companies, and some of the students she has now that are absolutely new to dance and how different it is for them. The contrast was immense.
One of my friends brought up the “rivalry” between our studio and another studio (we tend to be rivals with all the other studios? I don’t know.) and how my friend had noticed an atmosphere difference. She described the girls as “snooty” whereas at our new studio, they were warmer.
Jilissa pointed out that the girls who may come across as snooty could actually just be very focused. Many dancers can come off that way, solely because they are so determined to do their best and work their hardest. It’s all about them, not because they’re selfish, but because it takes so much work on yourself to improve.
My new dance teacher touched on the rivalry last night after we received a letter expressing frustration with our dancers and how they disrespected the other studio. Turned into a life like episode of Dance Moms, in turn just a bunch of misinterpretation and assumptions. (An adult even yelled at one of our Clara’s, who is seriously the sweetest thing in the world. And like, 12. Who does that?)
During rehearsal yesterday, we had a challenging warm up. The teacher who was leading it is the teacher from the advanced class, and he just says it once through and you do it. Most dancers got shook up by this, especially if they weren’t used to it, or new to it entirely. But Brian doesn’t mess around, and even though it was a bit challenging, I loved it. It would take some getting used to, but I loved it.
But I liked being with all (most all) of the company dancers. I seriously have visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head. I want to work hard and be like that one day. These girls are absolutely beautiful dancers and captivating to watch. I loved being among them. Sometimes about being surrounded by someone better than you makes you strive to be better. I appreciated that.
On the same thought, it made me realize how lax so many people are. Maybe I have a different view coming at this from being older, but some of them just seem to take it for granted. They have this studio full of amazing teachers imparting such wisdom into them, yet they show disrespect, and talk about pointless stuff, and don’t pay attention and waste time. The ones who improve? The ones who become the advanced dancers? The ones who go on to become bigger and better dancers as whole? The ones who pay attention.
You can see it in the Clara’s. Anyone can want to be a Clara, but you have to work for it. Want isn’t enough. You have to strive.
Dictionary.com defines the following
to feel a need or desire for; wish for
To exert oneself vigorously; try hard
See the difference? Those Clara’s work hard–and they have to. All the choreography they do, all the roles they play, all the rehearsals they have to attend. You have to be sharp and pay attention. You have to try hard.
Sure, you’ll still advance if you just dance during class. You’ll get better with time. But if you really work hard at it, you’ll be that much better that much quicker.
It’s the difference between someone going struggling to keep up, and someone who actually dances their part. The difference between seeing the fear, panic, and thought process on their face, and seeing the character.
The audience typically doesn’t know how difficult it is. It’s our job to make ballet look easy. That’s the beauty of it. To take the pain away from the viewer, to feel light as air.
You may not have the rest of your life to dance. You might not do this after you graduate. Sure, you miss some social things or whatever. Ballet is sacrifice. And honestly, the work you put into it won’t let you down. People let you down, heck your own body might even let you down, but hard work won’t. Not in something like this.