I’m currently watching the portion of the live stream from The National Ballet of Canada.
They are doing their class warm up. So far, it’s fairly simple–all things I am more than capable of doing. It’s quite a large class, and as they pan from side to side, you see many variations of the same movement.
Plie, plie, grande plie, cambre, and 2nd. repeat. 4th, 5th.
Some people cambre forward in 1st, some cambre forward in 5th. Some back. You see some do different flexes and points at different times, or work and isolate specific muscles. You see some stretch different muscles than others, and some put their arms in 5th while most are in 1st, etc.
I thought of class last night with Mrs. Alex. We did this combination that ended in a ponche for our balance. It was on flat, and the arms were a little different. She made a comment that she thinks we can get our legs higher, and had us look in the mirror to see how high our legs actually were compared to what we thought they were. She told us, “I want you to just look at your leg. Not anyone else’s, just yours. I mean it! Don’t look at anyone else! It’s not about comparing yourself to other people.”
It’s about doing what we need, what’s best for us. It doesn’t matter how great or not-so-great the person next to us is. That is irrelevant. You can’t do anything about them. All you can do is work harder where you are with what you have.
If you watch the professionals, you’ll see that all of them aren’t the same, either. They do what they are capable of. If you’re truly a great dancer, no one will even notice if your leg isn’t up to your ear or whatever your neighbor can do that you can’t.
What I love about seeing this company, is you see them dancing for themselves. You can see it in them that they aren’t worried about the person next to them. You don’t see fear, you don’t see insecurity. You see them in their element. You see how seriously they take their art form. There’s something that they fully encompass that sets them apart, and is visible.
That’s what we want to achieve. To focus solely on ourselves and our own improvement. To become so fluid with the people around us that corps work is flawless. To accomplish that musicality.
That’s one of the most beautiful and enticing thing (at least for me) about learning the art of ballet.
We are all working towards the same goal. We learn these same moves in a language that is universal and timeless. It makes you part of a special kind of family, connects you to seeming strangers in a bond that can’t be explained.
I have made some of the most wonderful and cherished friends through ballet, and even more through World Ballet Day. It’s incredible. And really, there are no words to describe it.