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The gorgeous Misty Copeland, first African American principal dancer with American Ballet Theater.

Thank you, Jay Z! That’s right, I am a ballet teacher, thanking Jay Z for how his music rocked my ballet class and inspired me too!

I often enjoy incorporating all kinds of music into ballet class. I used an Irish Jig on Saint Patrick’s day and Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind in spring. One dancer requested a waltz, so I looked on line, and was surprised when a Jay Z song came up. Sure enough, “My 1st Song” is in 6/8 time–the man is rapping to a waltz, it’s very cool. It has this earthy undulating rhythm.

After hearing the song, when I really listened to the words, I realized the other cool thing about this song. It made me understand why Jay Z landed on the front page of Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people of 2015. By the way, my sister was also on that list, just not on the front cover.

In the song, Jay Z talks about how he asked Puff Daddy how to keep going, how to keep things fresh, how to keep his head above water. I did some googling and learned that in 1995, Jay Z was selling CDs out of the back of his car, and by 2003 when he wrote this song, he was a superstar megatalent and was planning to retire, just 8 years later! In the song, Puff tells Jay Z you have to keep things fresh, like when you first started, like back when you were an intern, like it’s your first song.

I realized this applies to ballet too–and probably every other passionate endeavor. It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea of success that sometimes you lose touch with the joy of simply creating. It’s vital to keep working, keep moving, and remember why you started dancing in the first place. Connect with the simple pleasure of learning your first steps, of feeling your body move in space, of turning or sailing across the floor in a leap. At first, when you start ballet you’re learning a lot of new steps, things are fresh and new and exciting. After awhile that learning starts to level off and you don’t see yourself making such big strides as you first did. It can be frustrating going to class and thinking you aren’t getting any better. What happens is the changes become more subtle as you begin a deeper learning of putting your expression into the movement, which is more nuanced. It can’t be measured so definitively. Whatever you do, don’t give up – do like the song says – keep going, keep moving – and remember the joy. Yes, it’s pain and struggle but it’s also the laughter it brings you. And that is where the gold is, that is your everything – it’s your life.

~Sarah

If you want to see what it’s like to dance ballet to Jay Z, we’ll be working on it today 12-1:30 at Liberated Movement. 380 Broadway buzzer number 5. Only $10.

Check this out: Jay Z took the train to his concert and he sat next to this woman. It’s very sweet.

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