Reflections on This Week

All in all, this was one of my better breaks. Probably because I did my best to prevent it from actually being a break! I ended up going to the studio every day except for Friday (on Friday I was running on less than 4 hours of sleep and so excused myself from private practice with the [mostly] legitimate justification that I would be risking injury by going). I also ended up going to the gym every day (except for Friday), although that wasn’t something I had specifically aimed do — the opportunity arose because, what with school being out for the week, I actually had time to go each day before class, something I would do all the time if I could fit it in my schedule.

Still, I wasn’t as pleased with myself as I had hoped to be at the start of the week. My enthusiasm was sufficient, but nevertheless it was difficult to get myself in the studio and live up to my own expectations of working as hard and as long as I do in any normal class. It’s true that I was tired (thanks to the sleep deprivation that always seems to sneak up on me during long breaks!), but I simply do not consider that to be a valid excuse for not being my best.

The vision I had for ballet this week played out something like this: go to the studio after working out, do my full warm up, give myself a full class (focusing on a few particular movements I was specifically told to work on by my teacher), and then stay in the studio a while longer to stretch extra. What really ended up happening was a somewhat comical decline in actually making my vision come to life as each day passed. Monday was by far the best day, and I know that it’s because I was forced by compulsion motivated to be absolutely ready for my ‘real’ class in the evening; Tuesday found myself going to the studio after working out, doing my full warm up, and then rushing through a barre that hardly counted and a few sad center exercises. By Wednesday, I was doing only my full warm up, and on Thursday I completely lost it and somehow ended up only doing a halfhearted warm up. As I said before, on Friday I did not even go to the studio (for a good reason…eh…)

What did I learn? I need to schedule private lessons with an actual teacher during the break!

I’m actually not at all kidding! But aside from that, I discovered that I need to learn how to work as hard on my own as I do when I have an audience; I mean, whether my audience is my teacher, some parents, guests in a theater, or the girls from the younger levels, I end up with significantly more ‘fuel to my fire’ and I perform wonderfully. In contrast, as I have seen this week, when I’m on my own and I have no immediate commitments that require my being on top of things (ie. if I had a class or a performance later that day, I would behave as normal and work just as hard on my own), my focus fades slightly and leave the studio much less satisfied than I prefer to.

I guess I just need to suck it up, keep my goals in mind, and work through any laziness that unexpectedly comes my way (I will say that I am not a lazy person — a big reason, perhaps, why I didn’t know how to handle myself this week!) And, as I mentioned above, it would do me a lot of good to arrange for private lessons as least periodically during my long breaks to help me stay on track.

Still, I would like to be able to work independently, without the ‘threat’ of a teacher to keep me in line. And it bothers me a lot to admit that I don’t know how to do this yet; it bothers me because 1) working hard all the time no matter what has never been a problem for me, and 2) this means I lack one of the skills I must posses as a professional ballerina in the (non too far) future — or actually, right now, even though I am not yet dancing professionally.

So what do I do? I know the simple answer is to JUST DO. And so, that is what I must do. It is part of the discipline this art requires, and so I should follow that precedent and follow through with my own desires and goals.

I will say, though, that next time I know I will be in such a position where I must work alone, it would be wise of me to consider the excuses I might make for myself and make sure to prevent the possibility of falling back on those excuses. I mean to say — I know now that being truthfully tired is not conducive to an enthusiastic class! And so, I should strive more than usual to get a healthy night’s sleep for the days I know I will really need it.

So, tell me! How did you spend your Thanksgiving week? Have you ever been in a position where you had to give yourself a class or rehearse on your own? How do you keep going on those days where everything that happens the way you feel seems to be a reason you cannot do your best?

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