Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Does Recreational Ballet Dancing Exclude Dedication in Dance?

Recreational dancing and recreational ballet dancing come up in the top ten of many national sports and recreational lists. World wide, people love to dance. There is intense dedication in dance with students, including adult ballet students, that adds quality to their lives, and quality to our cultures in general.

Ballet training is a kind of boot camp. Especially a summer or other holiday intensive. There is no complaining about heavy schedules, schedule conflicts, demanding teachers, sore toes or aching legs. Everyone is jubilant to be there.

No one has to explain to another dancer why they are there, why they love dance. Everyone else understands the blood, sweat and tears of it. The agony and the ecstasy...shall I go on? The good, the bad and the....nitty gritty.

I spent many years in ballet schools where the chosen very few got picked to be trained. In fact, as time progressed, the ballet staffs I worked with knew less and less about how to train all but the very few, because it was no longer required of them.

Gradually evolution swung back again in favor of the recreational ballet dancer, and as schools grew, non-professional courses were accommodated better than before. And the fact that there are now so many full-time teachers' courses, that shows the cultural appreciation for well-taught classical ballet and other dance styles.

Many adult late starters choose ballet for fitness classes. They get a full-body workout, a kind of pace, or interval training, and stretching. Along with all of that, women and men in ballet get to experience their own capacity for artistry and elegance.

Dedication in dance shows up in all of these individuals who make the base of dance in our cultures. After all, who is putting out $150+ for the tickets every season? While I occasionally read a snarky comment on the fans' forums, the general attitude toward the favorite ballerinas and premiers danseurs is more like worship.

I went to a local dance recital and saw the most amazing accomplishments on stage, by students who would have been considered totally unteachable in a more elite school. Which proves the point I've always made - if you don't tell someone they cannot do something, they will, in their ignorance, go ahead and learn how to do it.

It takes special teachers to draw the talent and finer details of artistry out of a highly strung, perfectionist, self-doubting top-talent professional student.

It also takes special teachers who will get a whole school of lesser or "ugly-duckling" ballet students, motley crews of physiques and late starter men in ballet, to perform excerpts from the classical ballets in their recitals with considerable polish.

If you love ballet or dancing in general, how to dance ballet your best is what matters. If you study recreational ballet dancing, your dedication in dance is your dedication to yourself, and the inner world where you dance. Thanks for letting us catch a glimpse of it.

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