Many Adult dancers return to the ballet studio with trepidation. Their childhood memories of ballet (or any form of dance) are clouded by the scathing remarks and dream destroying comments made thoughtlessly by a teacher. Alot of the students who arrive at Les Danseuses are eager to dance again but vehemently refuse to enter the exam room having had their self esteem crushed many years ago and their belief that they are good enough destroyed. Ballet is a tough art form which cannot be practiced without heart and guts and lots of sweat.
As a Teacher, I believe in the many benefits of dancing an exam or in a Show. The most obvious of these benefits is the importance of working for an achievable goal. No teacher worth her weight in ballet pumps wants to see her students fail and will therefor not challenge them beyond their capabilities but will also gently push them a little further than they might think their own ability stretches.
Mikhail Baryshnikov is often quoted “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself.” and that should be the motivation for every dancer. By entering for an exam, a dancer commits to studying the technique and artistry of the syllabus. Each class is spent trying to improve and requires great discipline.
There is nothing that increases one’s self esteem quite as dramatically as achieving – and exceeding – one’s own goals and expectations! And sharing one’s goals in a dance class creates a ripe environment for respect and team work – because adult dancers eagerly share in the successes of their classmates.
Exams are valuable because they provide the development of strong technique, artisitic interpretation and quality of movement. Exams instill strong moral character, values and a passion for excellence. And it is in the exam room that the demons of the past are overcome and slayed. Herein lies the true victory – once again believing that you are good enough!
And then, participating in a Show enhances all these benefits on fast forward! A show requires intense rehearsal with many hours of repetition and correction and drilling the choreography into the minds and feet of the dancers! And dancers grow technically in leaps and bounds and cultivate the confidence to step out on stage. And it is at the foot of the floodlights that dancers get to share their passion which makes all the hours of rehearsing worth it
There is then so much truth in the well-worn Irish saying: “Dance as if no one is watching, Sing as if no one is listening, Love as if you’ve never been hurt and Live as if it were your last day!”
**Featured Image: Edgar Degas – Oil on canvas