Common sense would tell parents
never to send their children to a ballet school.

Common sense would tell teenagers
that there is a wider and happier world
beyond the grueling strictures of daily barre and class.

Common sense would tell the graduating student
that there are infinitely superior ways of making money
than joining a professional ballet company.

Common sense would tell a young dancer
that very few (laughably few) of his or her colleagues
will ever make it to the top or even near the top.

Yet… there remains the dance and the dancer.

Ballet dancers encounter injuries, homesickness, fatigue, exhaustion, work, let downs, blood, sweat and tears, however they still have a drive to reach perfection. Ballet dancers will never accept that they have perfect technique: there is always something better to strive for. Improving stamina, turns, or even just a tendu, there are always the remaining factors that are not up to their standards. Why is this? Why can’t dancers let go of the thought of perfection, and stop abusing their bodies to get closer to that seemingly impossible goal?

The answer to this reflective question is that the physical and mental abuse their bodies undergo for ballet does not dampen their love and passion for it. “For the Love of Ballet,” the title of the 2012 National Ballet School Gala, exemplifies exactly why dancers dance, for the love of it! Ballet dancers work for the love of ballet and perform ballet for the love of their work. It’s crazy to think why dancers must undergo such discomfort to achieve their ridiculously high goals. A ballerina’s mental capacity and physical capacity must never be stronger than her heart’s desire, or she would never enjoy daily ballet classes.

How can this love, determination, passion, drive, be stronger than the abuse the body feels? Dancers know that the foot aches, the muscle spasms and the over-stretched tendons are there, but also that the dancer doesn’t want to miss one class, let alone one whole season.  So I’ve gone into my heart, into my mind, and into my body to figure out what keeps the heart wanting to dance ballet more and more over time.

When I dance I feel special. I feel as though I’m not myself, but I’m also not anybody else; I’m deep down inside my body. With ballet you move and express feelings through movement which is where the initial passion begins. Any styles of dancers have unique feelings towards their movements, and that is what propels those forwards in improving their technique and increasing their love for it. The unique feelings that dancers feel overpower any outside thought. Is money an issue? You will cross that path when it comes; bleeding? Grab a band aid and move on; sweat? What isn’t a good class without it, and tears? A push that will drive you forward faster and longer than ever before. For a ballet dancer, succeeding in ballet dancing is more important than all of these thoughts.

No, I’m not saying that there aren’t times when ballet dancers want to just sit down and cry, or pound their feet into the floor as strongly as they can, but after they have thought about it, they regain confidence and strive for the beauty through their movements.  However, especially ballet dancers can go too far to accomplish what they want, developing anorexia conditions, eating disorders, or smoking to achieve thinner bodies. These are not smart choices. They cause the body to slowly shut down, until a heart attack or lack of muscle strength occurs, which causes injuries. These injuries will not permit any expressions to be perceived by the audience because of the pain the dancer is feeling, and therefore can end any dancers career. It is very unintelligent to make these decisions and create a necessity for them, because they will end your dreams and turn them into nightmares.

Dancers have to mentally create their future in order to correctly balance the love and passion with the mental and physical abuse. Ballet lets you breathe a different air, explore different paths, and put love and determination to great cause. Any mental or physical abuse should never overpower love or passion for ballet because, if it did, ballet dancing would become unpleasant, and strenuous to all.

We dance for laughter,
we dance for tears,
we dance for madness,
we dance for fears,
we dance for hopes,
we dance for screams,
we are the dancers,
we create the dreams.

Emily Mittelstaedt

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