There’s nothing quite as sweet in the gleam of a baby ballerina’s eyes as she admires an older dancer. Younger dancers mimic their idols in everything from looks and mannerisms, to leaps and pirouettes.
Ballet is wonderful as it encourages older dancers to support and encourage their younger dancers. The bond that is created in those relationships is loving, tender, and as cute as a Mama duckling leading her babies in a neat little row to the water.
Young dancers learn a lot from the older, more experienced dancers; but sometimes, older dancers could learn just as much from their younger peers.
As a teacher of all ages for over 10 years, here are 3 ways I’ve observed where pre-professionals could take a page from the baby ballerina’s handbook, on how to get the most out of their training.
1. Own Your Superpower!
Young dancers are great at knowing what they are good at. If you’ve ever spent 5 minutes in the presence of a budding ballerina, they’ll tell you exactly what they’re great at, and waste no time demonstrating.
The studio mirror is a wonderful tool for a dancer, but can turn into our worst enemy. When the negative talk starts bubbling up, take a deep breath and channel your inner 5 year old.
Yes, you might have messed up that petit allegro, but remember you are rocking your fouettés and love how your port de bras has improved. Claim those as some of your many superpowers!
2. Fall Down (and get back up)
Falling down is no bad thing. That’s how you learn. Is it embarrassing? Sometimes. Is it useful. Heck ya! As I tell my students, ‘make a different mistake next time’.
Baby ballerinas fall down all the time. Then they laugh at themselves, dust themselves off, and get right back after it. Usually they’re picking themselves upgetting after a game of freeze dance and not a pirouette combo from hell, but the message is the same!
3. Leave It In The Studio!
Dancer or not, we could all take a cue about letting go from kids. After their class is over, they’re on to the next thing.
While for pre-professional dancers it is important to absorb the day’s material and corrections, everyone needs to hit the refresh button at some point.
Yes, your teachers and coaches and parents care about you and your success, but (spoiler alert!) no one cares/is watching as closely as you think they are.
Let whatever happened in class or rehearsal today be a learning opportunity and trust your body and mind enough to have received the lesson it needed. When you walk out the studio doors, let all the other goodies of life impress you. Learn the lesson and learn to move on.
Your inner 5 year old (the one who was obsessed with sequins and tulle and crowns) is just as much a part of you, as who you’ve grown up to be, and are becoming!
That little person represents the joy you felt when you danced, and the joyfulness is what life is all about. So go get ‘em, you sparkle loving tiny dancer, you!