“I began training in ballet at a very young age and ended up going to college to be a dance major. While there, I had the opportunity to perform in three performances a year and had ballet and other dance classes 5 days a week while also juggling other academic classes and fitting in the social life of a college student. While there, I was selected to be in a guest choreographer’s piece who came to set a new work on my school during my senior year.
At first, I felt that this choreographer was like a breath of fresh air coming into our school from Europe and found their choreography riveting. After we all auditioned for their piece, I was astounded to find out that they had cast me to be in their dance, considering it was a very contemporary movement and I am a bunhead. I have never in my time dancing been considered for such a special opportunity, let alone by a guest choreographer from Europe.
It actually gave me a sense of encouragement and hope in my dancing which was something I haven’t felt in a long time being that this choreographer believed in me enough to choose me. It was so refreshing to have someone brand new come into our school who does not know how we dance and isn’t a faculty member of the school. I worked very hard for this person because I wanted to show them how dedicated I was to their creation and even went into the studio in my own time to repeatedly work on sections of the movement I could not get into my body as quickly.
I definitely struggled with the movement because it did not come as naturally to my classically trained self, yet I personally felt that I was pushing myself in a good way by allowing me to free my body and dance in a way I haven’t before. However, about a month or so into the rehearsal process, the choreographer pulled me aside into the hallway prior to one of the ensemble rehearsals and told me that they no longer would like me to be in the piece and that it just wasn’t working out.
Puzzled and discouraged, I immediately asked them why and they responded that I was a slow learner, I had a terrible attitude in the studio, that I have a pretty dancer body but am wasting it because I don’t move it correctly thus making me look unpleasant to watch, and that if I were to continue like this, I would never make it as a professional dancer so I should just quit now to not waste my time or anyone else’s. They concluded by saying they are only telling me these things to “help” me, but really I just felt torn down and defeated.
I was baffled because I do not mean to toot my own horn but I am usually told I have a strong work ethic and always treat my teachers and peers with respect. Before I could even reply, they had walked into the studio and I never had the courage to speak in person to them again the duration of the time they were at my school.
Upon graduating, I was able to find a job dancing in a professional ballet company despite what that choreographer told me back in college, yet their words continue to haunt me and to this day I can still hear their voice inside my head telling me I could never make it and that I should just quit now. However, I have taken what they said and tried to view the positive of it and used the anger and discouragement I felt from them to fuel myself to push even harder and prove to not them but myself that I can succeed as a dancer.
I realize now that that was just one person’s opinion and issue with me that should not affect how I am as a dancer and that I really shouldn’t be dancing for anyone else but myself because my happiness comes first and is the reason I continue to pursue this art form. This is why I continue to do ballet because it is what I love.”