And that needs to start with explaining why I'm NOT here. I'm NOT here to promote myself as a great dancer. I'm NOT here for the look-at-me-tell-me-I'm-good ego-stroking. I'm NOT here to show off my tricks or body for validation. I'm NOT here to become famous in the dance world. And I'm NOT here to compete with the thoroughbred dancers out there.
I'm here because I'm not supposed to be here. I have the genetics of a lumberjack...not a ballerina. I grew up in a small town in Michigan and didn't have access to prestigious ballet schools. I played sports & worked construction (that's right -- tool belt, hammer, nail gun) in the summers. I wasn't born into money & had to support myself financially with many side jobs that took time & focus away from my ballet training. I'm 40 years old in an industry where most dancers start thinking about retirement before they hit 30. Plus, I have some very powerful mental demons that threatened to derail my dance career every step of the way: "Who do you think you are...you'll never be good enough! You should just quit now."
I'm a misfit, an underdog, and an outcast in the dance world. And I proudly accept that...because I didn't let it stop me from doing what I love. I'm still here, fighting to stay in the game. Not because I'm the best dancer; but simply because I love it. It's my passion. And I feel like there are more than a few of you out there with a similar story -- the classic underdog fighting an uphill battle to prove you are enough and worthy to call yourself a "dancer" even though you weren't dealt a winning hand.
But being an underdog doesn't have to feel like a struggle. Through my experience & training, I've figured out how to appreciate my body & optimize what it can do in order to be confident in my art. Here's a hint, it doesn't involve fitting in and copying my ballet idols.
In order to succeed, I couldn't play the same game the thoroughbreds were playing. How could I expect to win at their own game when I was already at such a disadvantage? I had to find my own way of becoming a better dancer. I needed to do more than just take class. I needed something much more potent & effective for transforming my body.
In my younger years, I hated my body & tried all kinds of destructive methods for transforming it -- eating disorders, obsessive workouts, other means of self-abuse. But those things just made me feel worse both physically & mentally. And they definitely didn't improve my dancing. The harder I tried to immerse myself in the traditional ballet world & be a good little bunhead who followed all the rules...the worse I felt. It wasn't until I developed a different, constructive method of training that I started to build confidence in my body and a new level of skill in my dancing.
I needed something to help me recognize my power, my worth, and that I had something valuable to share with my art. The traditional ballet world wasn't giving that to me because I felt so inferior comparing myself to the elite dancers. I had to break away and find another way of building myself up. I did that through my Bulletproof Ballerina training. In the gym, it was just me and the weights...me and my body. No director to impress. No peers to judge me. No audience to wow. Just me. The responsibility & focus were ALL on me to do the work to make myself better. And because the responsibility was all on me...so was the reward. I was no longer relying on the subjective opinions of others to determine my worth...I built it with my own two hands. And little by little my self-esteem & confidence grew.
That confidence is exactly what I needed to find fulfillment in my dance career. It allowed me to be open, vulnerable, and unafraid to take risks in my art. It helped me use my body to the best of its ability. It gave me the sense that my strength & worth were dependent entirely on myself. Not because the director noticed me. Not because I was handed a role. Not because I was praised by my peers. But because I took actions -- actions that I saw & felt results from.
(PC: Rachel Neville Photography)
Which brings me back to why I'm here with my Bulletproof Ballerina system...because I see so much of myself in so many of you. Maybe you got a late start. Maybe you weren't born with good feet. Maybe you couldn't afford the elite ballet conservatories. One way or another, you feel like you don't belong. Like you don't measure up. And you spend your ballet career trying to fit in. Questioning your worth. Agonizing over when you'll feel like you've made it. Worrying that no one sees you or appreciates your art. Feeling the sting of being passed over for jobs. Constantly struggling to win approval & be accepted by whatever high-and-mighty force that needs to accept you in order to feel good enough. Scratching and clawing your way through the endless competition to prove you are worthy.
So many of us are trying to earn self-love & confidence by becoming a better dancer...when the answer is that you need to build self-love & confidence first in order to become a better dancer. You don't do this by staring in the mirror every day and repeating mantras like "I am enough" and "I love myself." You do it through action. Through working on your body in a way that gives you ownership over it. Through understanding & transforming it. Through focusing on how your body can do ballet better...instead of forcing ballet on your body.
The irony is, once you stop trying to fit in, that's when you realize your potential in the dance world. You don't need to be ABT level to feel "good enough." You just need to stop playing by everyone else's rules...or you're bound to be miserable. If you feel like a misfit in the ballet world, you can't train like the thoroughbreds. You have to train differently.
And I'm here to help you do that -- to give you hope that if I can do it, you can too. To inspire you to claw your way through this messy, ego-driven dance world so you can fight one more day. To show you what's possible if you have the right tools. And to remind you that even if you're not one of the thoroughbreds...you still deserve to dance & follow your passion.
Do you know how many people go through life without ever finding true passion? Far too many. So when you find yours...hold onto it. Don't let your demons talk you out of a dance career & smother the thing that lights you up just because you may not have the genetics or ideal circumstances to be one of the best. Follow your passion...but stop abusing yourself for it. Your worth as a dancer is not dependent on proving yourself to anyone else or fitting in. It all hinges on proving to yourself that you deserve a spot on that stage.
Can you relate to any of this? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Shoot me an email!