Have you ever wondered what a young dance student does when a coveted award, placement or role is given to another dancer? Do they get angry? Do they beat themselves up about it? Perhaps they run home in tears and sulk for days. Maybe they blame the choreography, the brand of their pointe shoes, or the poor condition of the stage flooring.
In the civilian world outside the realm of serious ballet study, it isn’t far-fetched to imagine negative reactions and highly charged emotional scenes when a child doesn’t get what they want when they want it. We live in fast-paced times where instant gratification is the norm for our young people.
However, the minute a child steps into his or her first ballet class, they experience a different norm. They begin a long-term process that never really ends. Once a young dance student makes up their mind to seek out a career as a ballet dancer, they face a long list of must-dos and must-haves to grow and thrive as a dancer.
Serious Ballet Students Have A Long List Of Challenges
Here are just a few of the things that a student may have to think about:
- How they are going to pay for classes, practice garments, shoes, costumes and transportation year after year.
- Keeping themselves motivated to practice their daily exercises in or out of the dance studio.
- Eating the right foods for energy and fitness. Sleeping properly and keeping a good schedule.
- Staying disciplined when surrounded by out-of-control peers outside the world of ballet training.
It takes strong willpower and determination to keep your eyes on the prize if you are 12 or 13 years old and want a corp member contract by age 18.
Anticipating The Win, But Remaining Gracious No Matter The Result
Imagine yourself as a young ballet student. You are excited about winning a local dance competition. Your tutu is perfect and you have practiced your variation until it becomes a part of you. After the competition, you wait in eager anticipation for them to call your name. In your mind, you already know where you are going to display your trophy when you get it home. The judge announces the winner. It isn’t you.
I asked Monica the average age of her youngest ballet competition clients and was surprised to learn that they are as young as 2-5 years old. How is disappointment dealt with in these formative years? Here are a few ways that ballet students keep on keeping on:
1.Positive Parental Support
Ballet parents are special people. In a world where so many parents coddle their kids so they don’t experience any stress or difficulties, the ballet parent knows that experiencing struggles makes a child stronger. Young dancers learn early that their dreams aren’t handed to them on a silver platter. This equips them to handle life realistically. It teaches a child that they will appreciate most those things in life that they had to work the hardest for.
2.Their Own Natural Resilience
It doesn’t take long for a young ballet student to learn that some things in life are harder to achieve than others. Even learning the basic turnout of the five positions will teach a child patience and perseverance. Kids are very resilient and bounce back quickly from challenges. Unlike adults who can become jaded with life, children have a natural effervescence that keeps them chugging along.
3.Peer To Peer Understanding
Who better to understand what it feels like to not get the role or the trophy than another dancer? Although some classmates may end up competing against each other, ballet training creates a sisterhood ( or brotherhood) just like any other sport or hobby. Dancers hang out together, support each other and give each other advice, comfort and encouragement.
Here is a great example of the frailty myth of the ballerina. The delicate, wispy movements of a dancer hide the true strength of both her physical body and the inner strength of her character. Ballet not only trains the body, but the mind as well.
“No matter how you define success, you will need to be resilient, empowered, authentic, and limber to get there.” ― Joanie Connell