Ballet classes teach so much more than positions and choreography. We have taken a moment to chat with adults who danced as children and asked them what Ballet taught them about life. Below are the top 10 life lessons people learnt from their Ballet classes.
1. Hard work should be done with a smile.
Ballet is a sport and as with any sport it is susceptible to injuries. Between the blisters, bunions, pulled muscles and cracked toenails, Ballet is a total body workout in every sense.
What makes it so different from every other activity is you have to make it look effortless.
The whole point of being a ballerina is being graceful, beautiful, light and airy. Imagine having to lift heavy weights while looking graceful and effortless, all with a smile plastered on your face.
From this you learn there’s beauty that comes with hard work and this translates into other areas of your life.
2. Take a breath to prepare.
In some ballet exercises, the introduction before the dancing starts is a choreographed breath in, breath out. This practice becomes deeply ingrained in a ballerina’s mind, so when life begins to get hard it is normal to take a deep breath to calm the nervous system.
Respect begins with wearing the required ballet attire, including having the hair properly tied back. Respect for the class, the teacher and fellow students is learned through coming to class on time, listening quietly to the instructor, taking turns with fellow classmates and making any required corrections without complaint.
4. Can’t do it yet? Just keep practising.
Determination and persistence. That’s all it takes. And it’s not a life lesson that ends with the final curtsey, either.
5. The only competition is yourself.
Being a dancer does involve competitions, but every dancer’s biggest competition is themselves. Better results in this years ballet exam than last year. Getting flat in centre split. Adding an extra pirouette to your personal best. Ballerinas will always strive to be better, faster and stronger than yesterday.
6. Everything worth doing takes time.
Ballerinas are built from the ground up. All the fancy leaps and spins are from years of strong foundation work, and every class always starts with that same foundation work, even at a professional level. You need to know how to walk before you can leap.
7. Teamwork is just as important as individuality.
Ballet is very unique in that words are never spoken. You don’t have dancers yelling on stage at other dancers when they mess up. When you’re on stage performing, you have to trust your fellow dancers and rely on one another’s cues, if someone messes up you all go with the flow and make it look like it was meant to happen.
Life is also like this with flexibility and a lot of give and take. At work, you have to learn how to handle your co-workers and how to work together to accomplish your goals. You have to be able to trust them. Everyone comes with flaws. Learning to accept these flaws will make you a better, happier person.
8. Lend a hand, take an outstretched one.
Ballet dancers lift, entwine, lean on and support one another. In life this creates a person willing to cheer others on, provide constructive feedback, collaborate and mentor another with the objective of enabling everyone to reach their potential. On the other hand it also teaches you to know when to ask for help when it’s needed.
9. Toes get stepped on. Deal with it.
It is said that whenever two people come into contact, conflict likes to tag along. It is part of human interaction. Most often you cannot control or predict a toe stepping. Ballet teaches you to keep yourself in check by managing your own behavior. Never give in. Just learn to get along. Being part of a class full of other people you are made to sharpen your awareness of problems and resolutions.
10. You need to keep your body healthy.
Dancers know their bodies better than anyone else. As athletes, they are taught how to fuel themselves properly with the right types of food. They also know that injuries happen, and it’s important to take time off and rest. Listening to your body is so important in life, what your body tells you helps you make smart decisions, such as eating a salad once in a while or staying in when you’re really tired.
Regardless of the path taken in life, ballet teaches how to be independent, how to fight for what you want, how to live healthily, and how to be grateful for everything you have.