There’s something in my eye. Don’t look at me. Just read this email from a reader

Hey there Gentle Reader,
I received this email recently, and, well, it really touched me. May have tugged at my mean old heartstrings a little, dang it! Asked the writer for permission to share it, and she said yes, so yay! here you go:

Dear Ms Beginner,

I do really like your blog. It seems to me that there is someone out there to share my passion on ballet.

I find it really hard to do ballet properly as a 43 year old lady who did not have any chance
to do it when was young. I always like ballet and it was a year and a half ago I decided to join a local beginner ballet class for adult. All of my classmates have done a lot of ballet before. I work very hard and practise at home every day. I do have very good progress on the elements that I learn from the RAD DVDs. However I can’t even do simple waltz steps.  I feel very embarrassing as people think I am always good at a lot of works. I think,  trying to be the top of the class is my problem. I said to myself tonight while driving home after class I have to allow myself to fail.

I don’t get jealous of anybody who can do ballet better than me but I still feel sad whenever thinking of not doing ballet when i was young. I am also reluctant to ask my ballet teacher how he thinks my ballet is because I don’t want him to know I am very serious about my ballet.

But, I will still work hard for it. Hopefully one day I can be in pointe shoes  and dance freely and beautifully as a ballerina.

Thank you so much for writing your blogs.

Regards

No, that’s not a tear welling up in my eye, it’s just very dry in here. Harumph.
But you see what I mean?
The part that really gets me is where she says she’s reluctant to ask her teacher because she doesn’t want him to know how serious she is about ballet.
Um, I totally feel ya on that one!
I mean, I’m working like heckbutt to improve, but I for sures don’t want Smirnoff to know that. Way easier to cope with my own ridiculousness by taking a happy-go-lucky approach to class. What if he laughed at my desire to be Good? Or pointed out that I am ridiculous? Not that he would, but I am, so what if?
Also, this reminds me that adult beginners are brave!
I don’t feel brave. But I read this letter and think, Dudes, this lady is brave. Learning a thing where you know it’ll be a long long time before you are as good as your classmates, and an even longer time -if ever- before you’ll be as good as the ideal in your head? That takes courage, man.
Also, waltz steps are hard.
Also, I like the way she uses the word free.
She hopes to dance freely.
Me too.

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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24 Responses to There’s something in my eye. Don’t look at me. Just read this email from a reader

  1. Melanie says:

    As a teacher, I would LOVE it if my adults came up and told me they were serious about learning ballet. They don’t seem to be, all happy go lucky, chatting away while I’m trying to demonstrate the exercise. I wish I had you two in my classes. I honor your bravery. It’s not easy in the body or the brain to start ballet late (and waltz step is one of the toughest rhythms/steps). Keep fighting the good fight!

  2. Rheumatic Princess says:

    I feel the same! So serious in my head, but I don’t want anyone to know because they will point and do a Nelson laugh.
    Also, waltz steps are crazy freaking hard!

    • Ahem! Rheumatic Princess! Why is your name up there not a hot link to your blog? Let’s get wit the program please!
      Hee hee! (Not a Nelson Laugh)
      And yeah, why are waltz steps so hard? If I can go backward while turning in real life, what’s the prob in class? Getting better at them with lots of practice but they definitely did not come naturally.

  3. lalatina says:

    I have the same! I am very serious about ballet but I never told my teachers about it. I pay attention and ask questions in class and hope they’ll notice it like that, but now that I read Melanie’s comment up here I think that I might try talking to them about it. It’s scary, though.

  4. Lola Schoen says:

    i loved to read this one, i´m always glad to read that there are so many others that share my passion. yeah, i´m really not alone! mrs beginner, your blog encouraged me, too, btw because it took such a long time (i´m talking about years) until i finally made the step into a ballet class again. i had so much self-doubts but reading your blog showed me that i don´t have to be afraid of anything, i just have to do it. but girls (and of course boys) i really don´t get it. why should no one (or especially your teachers) know that you want to be good in what you do? why don´t you want your teachers to know that you really are passionate in your heart for what they teach you? don´t you think that they would appreciate having ambitious students for which time in ballet class means more than just a “leisure activity”? i don´t care if anyone laughs at me or thinks it´s foolish for me as an adult wanting to be good in ballet. i think wanting to be good in what i do, what i´m passionate for and what i spend my love, time and money on, is simple consequential. i love going to my ballet classes, i love practising and improving the exercises. i´m thankful for this adult-ballet-community that encouraged me and motivated me so often. so let´s keep on doing what we love and hope that someday we will be able to dance free.
    so much for my ballet anthem, ;)))))
    reminds me of a song, or actually the chorus: baby don´t cry, you got to keep your head up… ;))))
    sorry for this long post but i had to tell you.

    • I love your ballet anthem!
      And, well, to clarify, I show my teacher that I’m serious in a million little quiet ways, like what lalatina is saying, by being a good student : make a mental note of corrections, ask questions if corrections are not clear, make up little games to remind myself so he doesn’t have to repeat corrections too much, help set up the room for class, look up words at home, read, be informed, listen, never talk while he’s talking, mark things while they’re being demonstrated, I even try to make sure my body language is positive, since ballet and posture and body language are all wrapped up I try not to cross my arms in front of my body, you know, look receptive to information and all that. Basically by being a good student I hope to show my seriousness, and I think the writer of the letter above maybe takes the same approach.
      For now, though, all I’m up for is Showing him that I’m serious, I’m afraid that Telling him I’m serious might lead to some awkward conversations I’m not ready for. If that makes any sense.
      I’m also super thankful for this adult ballet community. Yay us!

      • Lola Schoen says:

        never had a doubt that you are any different as this in class, seriously. what i did not understand was why you could show him that you are serious but not tell him that your serious. i did not understand why you are afraid of talking about it but i think i understand it now. maybe someday you will be ready for this conversations. i just hope for you that you can tell him what you want him to know (even if i think he somehow knows already), or better what you want him to hear from you if this is important for you. for now: yay for our great teachers and yay for us!!!!! have a nice weekend!

      • Oriana says:

        Yes, I can feel for you and 100% understand what you mean. There is always the right timing for everything. My hope is the same as what Lola Schoen’s that one day we will have the courage to tell our teachers what we want them to know. More importantly, we will have the ideas how we want them to support, to push, to guide and to lead us to our own vision in ballet. However, do I really know my goal? Would it be a solo performance? A RAD certificate? Or to be more musical? Or better alignment?

        • Yes, exactly!
          What is the goal?
          I can imagine it going like,
          AB: hey Teach, I’m serious about ballet!
          Smirnoff: well so what?
          AB: soooo, I wanna be Good!
          Smirnoff: you want to perform?
          AB: no
          Smirnoff: well how do you define Good if not through performance?
          AB: um…I don’t know.
          Smirnoff: well, figure it out and get back to me. Meanwhile keep coming to class.

          Or maybe like this,
          AB: hey Teach, I’m serious about ballet!
          Smirnoff: yeah? And?
          AB: so I want to be Good!
          Smirnoff: ok, you have to take more classes per week.
          AB: can’t afford that. Plus don’t want to. I mean I’d be happy to take three. Maybe four. Maybe. As much as I love class I love my time off too.
          Smirnoff: well then you are not serious about ballet.
          AB: oh.

          Or maybe even like this,
          AB: hey Teach! I’m serious about ballet!
          Smirnoff: aren’t we all?
          AB: I want to be Good!
          Smirnoff: well you can’t. You are too old and fat. But you can be ok.
          AB: oh.

          Or this!
          AB: hey Teach! I’m serious about ballet!
          Smirnoff: that’s good My Dear
          AB: I want to be Good!
          Smirnoff: Ok. You must give your all in class.
          AB: I always do!
          Smirnoff: oh! Really?!

          Ha!
          Ok he wouldn’t say that. I don’t think. But he does have a great capacity for honesty.
          But yeah, you hit a good point: what is the goal of being good? What is the proof of good-ness?

  5. Nic says:

    Oh the tragedy of us all. I really struggle to make my ballet class on time because i have to leave work early to do so, and on a few occasions I’ve managed to get there early, was shocked to discover my classmates hiding out in the changing room, because, they said, they didn’t want to go in and warm up too early because * they would look too keen* . I just wanted to weep. Not least because I’m probably ten years older than most of them, and old and stiff, and am always desperate to warm up. But mostly because I can’t imagine why anyone would take up ballet as an adult ( even a young adult) if they didn’t love it. Its not as if our mothers are forcing us to go to learn good deportment. Who do they think they are fooling? Themselves? As a teacher ( of undergraduates in something totally un-ballet-related), sometimes enthusiasm from students is the only thing that makes it worthwhile – I mean, most students in universities don’t go on to work professionally in the subject they study, and three years isn’t a lot of time to really improve at ANYTHING. So the most one can hope is that students learn a little bit and keep their desire to learn more. Of course its not foolish to show that you want to learn! whats the matter with our education system that people are frightened of admitting it? – I’ll stop ranting now:) – thanks for the blog btw….

    • Tragedy indeed!
      Oh, woe!
      Um, that is really funny about your classmates hiding in the dressing room. I mean, if they were all there, then why not all go into the room at the same time? Then no one looks overly keen. They all look the same level of keen.
      Right?
      Yeah, I hear you on class enthusiasm, I think one of the reasons adult beginners make good students is that most of us, by the time we become adults, have taught something and understand how soulcrushing an unresponsive class is. So we’re good at calling out answers and demonstrating and being attentive, which is a way of saying you’re there to learn.
      Rant anytime, dude.

  6. Hannah says:

    oh my gosh, this is me. i am so SERIOUS about it and practice everyday. i try so hard to focus so hard in class. i want to dance with the best technique that i can possibly achieve and maybe perform in a small local performance but i would NEVER tell my teachers that. eeks.

  7. Kaija says:

    Yay serious adult beginners! We should have support group every day to cheer each other on…oh wait, we do–it’s called the internet :) Yet another voice for “taking up ballet as a grown person is HARD” but I think that’s what I love about it…I’m always drawn towards personal challenges and I love the way ballet makes me work not only my body but my head and heart as well. I don’t think I could have been this brave as a young girl.

    I realize now that the teacher I had for waltz step was a genius…he started from the very basics: hands on hips, walking forward only in a down-up-up, down-up-up pattern (demi-plie/fondu on the supporting leg on down, step on high demi-pointe on up), then plie/brush the front leg-up-up, plie/brush-up-up, THEN adding the backwards brush once we got the rhythm and coordination. I see the whole shebang thrown at beginner and I shudder. And once you THINK have the waltz step, an instructor will thrown in a completely different set of arms and it’s like you have to start all over again..it never ends. And that is something I like about ballet as well: you will never know and have seen it all, you will never be perfect…so there’s always something ahead, like the Neverending Story! :)

  8. This post and the responses to it made me realize why I enjoy your blog so much (besides your brilliant banter). As a 52 year old who has returned to ballet after 37 years, I am also somewhat embarrassed to identify myself as a serious ballet student. It took me months to be brave enough to wear a leotard, not because of body image (I love my body) but because I didn’t want anyone to think I thought I was legit enough to wear a leotard. Silly, huh?

    • Anony Mouse says:

      wow. i never said it out loud but i’ve never worn a leotard for that exact reason Francine! i wear leggings and tight tank tops (plain and all black) but never any real dance wear because i thought i’d look like i was pretending to be something i wasn’t

      the only thing i “wear” that i think is serious is my hair. i always have it styled or pulled back very neatly before i arrive to class.

      • Yes! I do this too! Although my big hang-up is leg warmers. Didn’t feel like I’d earned them for the longest time, like I’d be a total poser if I showed up all leg warmered, plus was worried leg warmers would give people a Higher Expectation of my skill level. Which is silly, all you have to do to earn legwarmers is have cold legs.

        • Ahahah, I took the other approach. If I can’t actually dance like a ballerina, I might as well look like one while I’m just standing at the barre. I’ve waited 30 years for these classes, I totally deserve to dress like a ballerina!

  9. Meadhbh says:

    Just…wow. As a adult beginner who began ballet at age 51 with no previous experience this past October I really identify with so many of the people leaving comments and the brave soul who wrote that letter. I also am trying so very very hard in class but have not felt like any of my teachers so far would understand how much I want to dance. My dream is to just be able to do a little pointe, even if I never can let go of the barre while doing it. I have rheumatoid arthritis and of my joints just ache almost all the time. But during class so often I completely forget about the pain. And every once in a while I look in the mirror during class and sometimes see little glimpses of a real dancer. So like the rest of you I will just keep going and try to be brave. I love this blog and feeling like there are others out there like me. AD I believe you may have no idea how much you really encourage others with your blog. Thank you for sharing this letter!.

    • I just wanted to pop in a comment here because it is so very good hearing about another adult dancer with rheumatism. I mean, it is so hard living in pain all the time, and I can’t even find words for it sometimes, but if I am going to hurt anyway then I am going to dance, because dancing makes my brain happy even when the rest of me feels terrible. Anyway, I just wanted to send you some supportive vibes and let you know that you aren’t alone :)

  10. I found a quote today. I didn’t think of it in ballet-terms until I came to visit your blog (I was thinking of it in terms of work, relationships, etc. etc.) but it TOTALLY applies to me and my ballet-attempts:

    “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthousiasm” – Winston Churchill.

    If only I can remember it when I’m feeling like I have 2 left feet and 2 foward directions tonight.

    All you adult-beginners inspire me. I’m into my 3rd month now, starting at 30. (I don’t count the few little classes I took from age 3 – 6 as much previous experience). :)

    • Oriana says:

      Thanks for sharing the quote. I will put on that like an armour when I go to my ballet classes. I now have the confidence to fail more as it will lead me to success.

  11. O'Fla says:

    (Another ballet teacher here)
    I am so very happy when I have students who show that they are serious about what they do! If they tell me, then so much the better! I do even have some female adult beginners who have expressed the desire to eventually go en pointe, which I think is wonderful, and I have to tell them that they must take more lessons each week for a long time before we can even consider that. They do not like that proposal, but it is the only way to progress safely and effectively.
    Anyway, just wanted to say that it is fine when students show their serious interest! That is why we are there, I would think!
    Oh, and ditto to those who have posted about arthritis – I have the “normal” kind, and it is a bummer to be in pain all the time. As has been written above: At least one can have pain AND do something one loves, rather than _just_ having pain.

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