“…Someone somewhere…aspires to move like you…‘Another day, another plié’ you might think, but to the average person you are sensational.”
Dancers: how many times a day do you plié? A plié is simple in our eyes – a movement that’s used as an assist for practically every complex balletic movement. I’m not going to toss out a number, but per ballet class we each do an astronomical amount of these simple knee bends. Writing this, I even Googled “how many pliés does a dancer do in a ballet class?” The results were inconclusive, and I instead was offered topics such as “The purpose of Grande Pliés” or “How to Ballet Dance (with Pictures)” (my personal favorite). That’s proof enough right there that even the basics of ballet are fascinating to non-dancers. The physical strain we place on our bodies on a daily basis is far from acceptable anatomically. But does that serve as a deterrent to the art form? Not at all.
I decided to tackle this topic, in part, due to my frequent interactions with my adult students. I have always found it to be a pleasure working with adult groups-primarily because I know that absolutely everyone in the class is there of their own accord. Time and time again I find myself working with young students, whose own personal passions for dance do not match that of their parent or guardian. But when I step in the studio with adults, I know everyone wants to be there. I do my best to give a class that is comfortable for all levels, yet one that sparks thought and offers a challenge; I “read the room”-I’m not going to give a powerhouse class to a room of tired, mature adults; and I offer options-releve or flat, port de bras or stillness, stretch of your choice, etc. The opinion of this group is probably the one I value most. Because they are there to learn…to better themselves…to enjoy dancing. If I can provide them with anything and everything they are looking for, and they then come back and set aside time in their busy lives for ballet class with me, then I have done my job.
“The physical strain we place on our bodies on a daily basis is far from acceptable anatomically.”
Some of the students I work with regularly are advanced-women or men who have spent a considerable amount of time dancing, either recreationally or professionally. On the other hand, some are fresh to the world of dance. Does this make my job even harder? Yes. But I have great respect for these individuals. The simple movements that professional dancers complexly string together on a daily basis are the building blocks of my beginner adult curriculum. While I spend my mornings “plié-ing” away, I spend some of my evenings breaking down the basics for those who desire a recreational ballet class. The contrast in approach is vast, but the content of beautiful movement remains the same. While we as professionals dare to analyze and perfect our movements, in a recreational capacity, the goal is much simpler (and also, perhaps, more appreciated). It all comes with the territory. The more we advance, the more we take for granted and lose perspective.
So the next time you are going about your day, performing your routine, remember that someone somewhere admires you and aspires to move like you. Yes, perfection of tricks, alignment, and flexibility are all important at the professional level, but don’t forget to give yourself some credit. Ballet is not natural. It’s brutal and unforgiving. But you are a professional, and you have broken barriers with your capabilities. ‘Another day, another plié’ you might think, but to the average person you are sensational.