Every class matters.
It is important that you be present and that you do every part of every class that you can, every day.
The best dancers know this. They don’t rely on their talent alone and they never ever rely on what they were able to do yesterday. Yesterday doesn’t count for today. The audience doesn’t care if you did a triple pirouette once, even if it was just yesterday.
This is where ballet is more challenging than sports. You don’t get a record or stats to carry with you or wear like a badge. You don’t get a ring, or a trophy. You just get that one moment on stage. Videos and tape recordings do nothing to enable an audience to relive being in that moment on stage with you – and they count for nothing. If you’re lucky, maybe someone other than your stage mom will remember those moments you’ve had on stage –but the likelihood is that everyone else in the audience will already be watching the next dancer.
The truth is that for the best dancers, it doesn’t matter. We don’t need the badge, or the trophy, or the stats to wear and cling to, we don’t need the videos, because we relive these moments every day in class; Over and over, never missing a beat; staying with the rhythm and loving every minute.
Yes, we are thinking about starting with the trophies and directors’ awards and all that jazz for our dedicated participants. Next year, we’ll be able to boast about our committed, dedicated students that have been working, sweating, dancing at Integral for five years. But I know my students, and I know they don’t want the trophies or ribbons. An earned trophy will never shine as bright as the dancers that don’t miss a beat.
As dance studios around the country wind down from Nutcracker mayhem, we are just gearing up for our annual FAITH Project performance. This year, students will be performing the elaborate and intricate story of Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream in our production: A Midsummer's Eve. We are excited to welcome our tiniest dancers into the company this year to play the bugs of Oberon's Kingdom.
I am learning an inevitable truth from my students during this process, not just the youngest dancers, but from our junior and senior company as well. An inevitable truth that I have fought tooth and nail since I started teaching. No matter how intricate a storyline, no matter how funny a character, or how fun the choreography, no matter how beautiful the music or how demanding the technique, no aspect of dancing on stage replaces the excitement of a sparkly costume. Nothing.
Don't get me wrong, I've never denied the magic of a beautiful costume - but if we're not able to use our dancing to feel like Titania herself, than no amount of tulle and glitter is going to help.
The costume should be the sprinkles, on the icing, on the cake. And yet I can't get through a single rehearsal with my junior company without at least 10 questions about trying on costumes, or trading costumes, or which costumes, or quick changed costumes, oh and make up. "Will there be glitter?"
With all of the corrections and comments and pointers and changes I give during any given rehearsal- I cannot imagine how there is any room in their minds for costumes at all. I worked with a nine year old student for at least 15 minutes on perfecting the difference between en dehor and en dedans piruoette. The end result? "Can I trade for the blue dress?"...
At least the senior company has learned to pretend to not care.
Miss Erin serves as the Executive Director at Integral Ballet.