Ballet is about creating art. And, like it or not, the “look” of the human body is a part of that art. Learning how to control and manipulate your body to not only perform ballet technique masterfully but to mold an aesthetic with your physical form itself that will create a unique artistry are essential for reaching your peak performance state.
The unique look of your body will be just that...unique. I like to call it body art. It’s not about trying to look like the thoroughbred dancers you idolize. You don’t have to be super skinny and frail. You don't have to get lean and ripped, either. It’s about discovering what works for your body – what makes you feel confident; what gives you lightness and power for your ballet technique; what makes you feel vibrant, alive, and healthy. It’s about understanding how to optimize your unique body. And, that is going to look different for every single dancer.
I get a lot of criticism for my "look." I’ve been called:
But, none of that bothers me. This is my “look” that gives me power, physically and mentally, to go out there and slay in life. I’m certainly not saying I am the greatest dancer ever…but honing my unique look has given me the confidence to pursue a career in ballet despite not being the greatest dancer. It has given me the confidence to pursue things in life I would have been too scared of before. It’s given me the confidence to walk my own path and stop judging my worth by how I compare to others. It’s given me the confidence to love myself and not give a f*ck about what the haters think.
Your task is to find the "look" that is unique to you and your art, the look that gives you your power. Not by comparing yourself to the dancer next to you, but by learning how to optimize your uniqueness. This involves not only enhancing the areas you have control over but also accepting the genetic features that you can’t change.
Make no mistake; our bodies are a part of this ballet art we are creating. And, until you gain control and mastery over manipulating yours...your art will be missing a piece of its beauty. If you never focus on optimizing your body aesthetics and only address your ballet technique, you are neglecting half your art. Working on the "look" of your body is not vanity…it’s living up to your potential.
You don’t have to starve yourself to get skinny. You also don’t have to accept mediocrity & genetics as your “fate.” There are plenty of tools to adjust your look in a healthy way. There is no right or wrong look. And, your "look" will be completely different than everyone else’s. But, if you never try to find it, hone it, create it, you are missing out on a big piece of the puzzle.
Journal Exercise: Craft Your "Look"
- What are the features that make you feel powerful & confident in your body?
- What aesthetics are unique to you?
- What physical factors can you enhance and manipulate?
- What are the traits you can't change but can start to appreciate & mold into your unique "look?"
Photo credit: Steve Vaccariello