The Battle of Ballet: Mind over Body

There is a certain amount of self hatred that comes with the non conventional ballet dancer. Its a hatred based on the constant reminder that you are not perfect in the eyes of ancient eastern European royalty. Ballet, in its purest Russian form, favors the duck footed and long, skinny dancers. Flexibility, especially in the hips, allow certain alignments of the body consistent with unholy amounts of balance on a single leg. If you’re built naturally or with the normal imperfections of a human being, you have to make a few painful adjustments to your body.
Needless to say, everyday in ballet is a constant struggle for me. Even when I do things correct, I could be doing them MORE correctly (that was an intentional use of bad grammar, not like the other accidental times). Its a frustrating experience that I have to pick myself up from on a daily basis. The key, I’ve discovered, is to not let it get me down. The minute that I stop living in my dance is the minute I lose what I love about dancing.
But herein lies the real trick of ballet for the modern adult. We can be told what to do and understand the mechanics of how things in ballet work. But there is still a connection that needs to be made between the brain and the body. Many times, the brain knows what needs to happen but the body is reluctant in its response. As a result, you wobble and fall from grace. This might be fine and good when you have a friendly barre to hold on to, but real ballet happens on a stage. Just like with anything else, you need to own that stage. You can’t really do that when you’re eating floor or hopping around on your foot looking for balance. Those are definitely not ballet moments fit for the Kings and Queens who were first entertained by it. The other tricky part is that when you fail in ballet its not because of a single thing that you did wrong. Its usually a compilation of things. Which means that for a newcomer to be perfect, they have to remember many different things at once. Even then, knowing what those things are won’t always be your saving grace. Your mind will constantly battle your body and remind it that it isn’t doing the right thing. And in case yelling at yourself isn’t enough, the mirror inherent in any studio is there to haunt you as well. Both your brain and the mirror work in tandem to constantly remind you that you suck.
So what’s a bboy gone ballet supposed to do? As I said before: for me, dancing is about living in the moment. If I’m supposed to dance for Kings and Queens, then I damn sure better present myself like one. If I can think elegant, long,  and strong then my body will follow suit. It’s in those moments that I can almost float right off the ground. Let all the thinking and nitpicking come at the barre and leave the actual dancing for center floor combinations. As horrible as ballet might be for me, I just have to remember that its another artistic form of expression for my body.