Brand new dancers come to my open level ballet class embarrassed for not knowing what to do. How can you know, I ask, it is your first time. I reassure them not to worry, to copy the shapes we are making with our bodies. They watch the others who have been dancing for weeks or years and they watch me with eyes wide, hanging on my every word. You already have all the points for showing up and climbing the stairs, I tell them, everything else is extra credit. The goal, I say, is to have fun.
Beginners struggle. It is hard to muddle through in the back of the class, I know. The advantage beginners don’t know they have is their minds are open. When they can keep this open mindset, they approach ballet with the enthusiasm of a puppy, and with a shine in their eyes to feel their body moving to music. In yoga we call this mindset ‘Beginner’s Mind’. It is a way of looking at something without preconceptions, without judgement, without ego. It is something the more experienced dancers can learn from the beginners.
The root of improving at ballet lies in the fundamentals of technique. We all think we know, but if we can catch ourselves cheating, if we can break through an old bad habit, we can ultimately dance that much better, longer, and safer. If we can approach ballet with fresh eyes, without our old views, we can see it better, listen better — and without our preconceived ideas getting in the way — we can learn better.
The way to do that is to come to ballet (or life) with a mindfulness, a freshness, a Beginner’s Mind. Seek out the joy even in the ritual of routine. Allow yourself to soften and absorb. Invite yourself the freedom to try something a different way than you’re used to, and maybe it will be wrong or you’ll make a mistake, but that will be okay. It’s all for fun anyway, isn’t it? Get back to that moment of seeing dance for the first time, of standing in the wings, the thrill washing over you to see them out there on that stage, the excitement and the wonder of it all.
Are you a beginner? I’m teaching a sign-up-in-advance-type, four week Beginner Ballet Series the four Sundays in February from 10:30am-12pm noon. It is limited to 16 dancers and there are just a few spots left. It is $60 for the four weeks. If you are interested, email the studio at firstname.lastname@example.org
I also teach an open level, drop-in class on Tuesdays 7-8:30pm that is donation based, a suggested donation of $10. On Saturdays the open level drop-in class is 12-1:30 and a Minimum of $10—less than a glass of wine. Feel free to give more and support non-profit donation based dance. Like to move with joy? We’re creating a liberated movement. Our website is http://www.liberatedmovement.com