What is J.O.D.? If you are someone I have encountered on my numerous ballet adventures throughout the past 3-4 years, you have probably heard me referencing, joking, superstitiously calling upon, or perhaps even yelling excitedly about the J.O.D. I have to first give credit where credit is due, however, because I did not come up with it entirely on my own (A shout out to Darrell Pucciarello, a ballet teacher of mine from Massachusetts). The “term,” official or not, stuck with me, and I have been spreading the word like a catchy pop song throughout the two ballet companies I have called home for the past 4 years. I’m not even sure if the J.O.D. was originally referenced as an acronym. I may or may not have carried it to that point on my own.
So that is the brief history, but what exactly does it mean? Very simple, and accessible via the title of this lovely blog too, I’m sure you have figured it out by now – Joy. Of. Dance. Cheesy, dumb, “competition school-esque”…whatever you want to call it, you have to admit that it does exist. It may not be something that every dance enthusiast understands, but the more you dance and perform the more you need to channel this feeling. From dance student to prima ballerina, we all have those days where we find ourselves asking, “Why am I putting my body through this?” “Why the heck do my feet not look like Paloma Herrera’s by now?” or thinking “One more time, really?!”-as we prep for what feels like the millionth corps run at late night rehearsal in the theater. Because no matter how much you love ballet, like any normal human being you will doubt yourself. So the “pointe” of my first blog is this-If you’re going to make it work, you need some J.O.D. It might not always be there 100%, but it needs to have a small presence in order for you to succeed and, most importantly, in order for you to be happy.
In my experience the past 4 years as a professional dancer in the regional ballet community, I have found it to be an absolutely necessary state of being. It is not news to anyone that a job in the arts, big or small, does not generate much income. Unless you are NYCB caliber and at the absolute top of your game, if you’re a female in the arts your life is bound to be a challenge from day one (You better be ready to cry, understudy, and altogether kick…butt). There will always be someone one step ahead of you or even one step behind you (learning your part and possessing a secret desire that you wipe out on the marley or spontaneously become ill). You have to be a tough cookie. But you also have to genuinely want it. If you don’t, it shows. It’s in your everyday approach, and it’s in your eyes. To get through the day-to-day politics, rehearsals, and marathon days of dance plus a second job, you must have intention. That is why I believe in the J.O.D.
This all probably sounds pretty dramatic. (I wouldn’t be a ballerina if I wasn’t dramatic though would I?…) I realize that by putting this out there, criticism will follow, good and bad. So take what you will from it. I don’t want to necessarily stir the dance-world pot, but I want to make a mark. I’m fresh and (hilariously) funny, but I’m also realistic. Yes, ballet is virtuosic, glamorous, and an intense physical challenge, but let’s get real. It’s also constantly being in character, breakouts from too much makeup, and evenings spent with Netflix and your feet in a bucket of ice. We love it, but we hate it. I do love it though. I really do. Ballet is like a boyfriend I verbally abuse and maybe even consider leaving at times. But I stay. Because I believe in myself, and I know I have many people behind me who believe in me too. One of those people was my grandmother. Three years ago today she passed away, and I miss her every day. So today, I dedicate this to her. No matter what happens, I’m gonna bring that J.O.D.-for her and for myself.