Yes, Imperfect Bodies Can Dance

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I was teaching a group of 10 year olds yesterday, and was talking to them about turnout. I explained that I, personally, have very little rotation and circumduction in my hips, so I had to learn to work in a way that allowed me to use the correct muscles and as much turnout as possible in the correct way. As I looked around that room of absolutely beautiful children - some extremely talented, I told them that traditionally only the best bodies were chosen for ballet. Only the ones that already had the rotation and circumduction, along with a host of other things. Most of us in that room would not have made the cut (mainly me!).

A few days before I had been in one of my own classes, and was doing a stretch for my hips. While others had their knees falling to the floor, mine were no where near. My teacher that day commented that it is interesting about me that I have so little of that flexibility, yet it doesn't show in my a la seconde. And for that, I have to thank my training for teaching how to use what I have.

Sometimes I get a little too down on myself, saying that I had very little natural ability. I do have some natural ability for dance, and could never have achieved what I did without it. However, I have a lot of things I have to fight, and because I have attained a fairly high level, it's not always obvious what I have had to overcome. So when I get a correction about turnout, I have to be gentle with myself. When I am told I am rushing the music, I have to remember that once upon a time I could barely pick up combinations. Now, I tend to rush because I do remember the combination, but until I am really confident in it, I get driven to the next step, next step; instead of thinking about my musicality. Sometimes I tense up and get stiff, but that's ok because mentally I have to think about 50 things at once to keep up. It's not always that way, but sometimes it is. It's strange to think that there are people out there that don't have to think about all those things at once because it happens naturally for them. But, that's me. I'm imperfect. And guess what? I still get to dance!!!

There are ways to teach imperfect body types. Check out, which teaches teachers how to train dancers with different abilities. Without having learned from someone who had gone through this training, I would never have achieved what I have with dance. Most likely, I would have ended up injured, frustrated, and burned out. I probably would never have become interested in teaching because I couldn't figure things out for myself. Now that I am using these methods to teach, I feel like I have so much more of an understanding of what students are or are not doing to make movement happen.

Don't get me wrong, I love to watch an ideal body type perform ballet in an ideal way. But, I also love to see different body types, and how they use their differences. More than anything, I am grateful to live in a place, and a day and time, where I got the chance to dance despite my imperfections. And I think it is my imperfections that make me the teacher I am, because I did have to learn how to dance.

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