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Dear Dream Seekers

Dear Dream Seekers,

You are wonderful. You are inspiration. You are life being lived.

I love seeing so many adult ballerinas emerging currently. Particularly on Instagram, it’s like watching these beautiful buds of hidden desires start opening their dare-to-dream petals and blossom into the most beautiful, soulful dancers.

Something I have noticed is that there seems to be an ever persistent pressure flowing from within many of the adult ballet students I see.

Inner pressure to be good at something we love is not a new thing. It is natural to want to progress.

And I am no stranger to that inner pressure. I felt it. I breathed it in and out, day and night. And it happily went and killed my love of ballet (for a while.)

And so I feel a little sad when I see people putting huge amounts of pressure on themselves to be better at something they love.

I mean, if you love it, then you should be doing it for love.

Let’s repeat that: If you love it, you should be doing it for love.

I know that you want progress. And I know that the ballet studio is a pretty intense place regarding your progress — indeed, it can sometimes feel like a comparison festival is happening in each class.

Everything you want is a valid desire. Improvement, enjoyment, strength, musicality, memories, flexibilities. It’s up to you what you want to aim for. It’s your life. Your choice. No-one else can, or has the right to, choose them for you.

But please be sure to think about it first. Think about you and what you really want because of how those things make YOU feel.

Don’t look at what someone else is doing and just follow along. God knows, you might wake up ten years from now able to do the splits but not able to dance in the centre. You might then shake your fists in the air and scream at yourself for following the splits trend only because it was what others were doing — and you missed getting your teacher to help you learn some amazing mini-solo piece that feels like heaven to dance.

Don’t set yourself up to one day wreak of regret.

So, with that in mind, what I do hope you do is sit with yourself a while. Ask yourself what you feel in this moment you want to do — like actually do right now — because you never know what amazing idea might have been waiting to flow through you but just hasn’t had the window opened to it before.

Then, ask yourself what you think you might regret NOT doing in twenty years time. I usually get my deepest inspirations flowing from this one.

Then lovingly think about all the things you, your body and mind, are good at doing. Really appreciate those things. If ballet is your thing, maybe you’re really musical and your body just naturally flows with the music, maybe you have lovely hand expressions, maybe you have a sparkly passion, maybe you have strong muscles, maybe you can smile during class (harder for some than others!), maybe you understand combinations, maybe you are flexible, or have lovely feet, or maybe you feel your soul fill up during ballet class.

These are all wonderful elements of what you do and of how you feel. I feel it’s important to fully embrace them. Soak yourself in the things about you and your passion, that you love.

When thinking about what goals to set yourself, or what path to set off on, I think it’s really important to take stock first, of all the wonderful parts of yourself that already exist within your passion.

I would look at what you love doing now, look at what you would regret not doing, and set your path accordingly.

If achieving the splits for ballet is part of that path then set your goals and go for it. If it’s smiling more during class, or learning a combination, or performing — then set your goals and go for them.

But be sure to start your intentional path with the full acceptance of how incredible you already are.

Be sure that you don’t discount all of your gloriousness and just focus on what you cannot yet do. If you do that you will be starting your journey with a destructive cycle of focusing on your downfalls. You should be real about yourself. But leave the negativity at the door. If negative self-worth is already an issue for you then I would suggest adding that to your goals — “Learn to love myself for all that I am.” That, and if neccesary, see a therapist, because honestly, that bullshit will become a serious obstacle to you fully realising your dreams.

So, in summary…

1) Align your goals with what YOU enjoy doing and what you feel you will regret not doing.

2) Make sure to begin your path to your goals/dreams/passions swimming in self-appreciation for all the wonder you already are.

Always remember why you’re doing it.

Always respect yourself for doing it.

Always hold your head high.

Remember,

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx

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This Time Around

This time round on my ballet journey, I have the power of knowledge alongside me. I am aware of my body’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s funny because, although this time round I have many many more challenges, I am choosing to see those challenges as opportunities to do things the right way for me, and therefor achieve more of my dreams and goals.

Last time, I had hopes and dreams but was continuously failing. I was continuously feeling my body crumble when it didn’t seem like it should.

I was being told my body was perfect for ballet and “should” be able to make all these perfect ballet shapes if I tried hard enough.

I also had a strange fear of movement. I began to get over that fear while I was at the barre — in fact, Iearned to adore the feeling of movement at the barre, and I even started feeling a little more confident with some pirouettes.

But move me away from the barre and I completely froze up.

I remember during my first private class my teacher tried to teach me a very simply pas de bourree with a simple relaxed pirouette on the end.

But it was the strangest thing. It felt like I was learning to walk again. Like everything was foreign to me. Like I didn’t even know my left from my right. Like I didn’t even know my own name anymore.

I used to walk away from centre time feeling so deflated. I didn’t understand why my body felt so weak in the centre and I didn’t feel like it would ever end.

(I do have to add that my in-class teachers were wonderful. They would always say, ‘Just give it a try!’ They could see I was really struggling and didn’t make me feel worse for it. And I am incredibly grateful for that!)

Now, after having experienced such a massive physical breakdown, and doctors finally being forced to pay attention — and that attention leading to the right diagnoses’ and now treatment, has meant that I actually know now why my body was not ‘failing’ but struggling with certain elements and why I felt so awkward doing centre work. Yes, there are actual physiological reasons for it!

So many things make sense to me now.

I remember during my hardest days a few months ago, I would lie there, unable to speak properly, unable to stand up, unable to wash myself, pain searing through my body, and I would try to think of the good things in my life. I found them in my children and my hopes for better times some day. But it was bloody hard to find them. Some days I was too consumed by my suffering to find them and I just wished for the day to end. 

But I never thought I would one day look back at that time and see it as a vital part of my future success.

And that is what it is. (I am not ignorantly suggesting that this is how it is for all chronic illness sufferers. We all have our own journeys.)

There will be many ups and downs ahead. And my daily grind is still a pretty heavy grind.

But now I am armed with knowledge and am moving forward in an achievable way, giving my body all the support and understanding it needs, to get me where I want to go.

And understanding makes ALL the difference. I’m no longer confused. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel more confident that I can achieve my dreams than I have ever felt before — because I have adjusted my dreams and the ways I intend on achieving them.

I may have health issues that are making me see things in this new light, but I think it’s relatable to everyone who may start to feel that pressured feeling about what they’re trying to achieve.

I suggest we all stop comparing ourselves to others and start learning about our own bodies, how we work and don’t work and start working WITH ourselves rather than against ourselves. As that is how I see the greatest growth happening.

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, if you like it… share it! 🙂

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When You Can't Be A Ballerina

A common grief among adult ballet dancers is the loss of ever being able to be a ballerina — of ever being able to truly live the life of a ballerina, the whole 24/7 package.

I’m sure there are many parts of that lifestyle that we don’t fully understand. I’m sure all the blisters, injuries, pain, pressure and rejection are things we cannot fully wrap our tantalised minds around. But the great sense of injustice at finding ballet so late in our lives, that many of us feel, usually overshadows those real-life ballerina issues. Most of the time.

So then, what do you do, how do you fill the ballerina gap, when you can’t be a ballerina?

Well, you can start by celebrating the fact that you don’t have all that pressure on you. You don’t HAVE to keep dancing on that injury or risk losing your employment. You don’t HAVE to do anything in ballet.

For adult ballet dancers, it is all about what we WANT to do.

Sure, sometimes (often) in class our teachers might make us feel that we should be focusing on a million things that feel impossible, but that’s only what the teacher wants — again, we don’t HAVE to do anything we don’t WANT to do.

So, we can set our sights on almost anything! 

Triple pirouettes

Jetes

Stronger feet

Feeling the music

Feeling like a ballerina

Laughing with friends

Fondues

Port de bras

Anything. ANYthing! ANY THING! 

(Well, aside from the pro-ballerina thing)

Remember to believe in yourself. 

You are allowed to set goals, dream and achieve. 

You are allowed to want more. 

You are allowed to strive for the best you can be.

You are allowed to strike a fabulous ballet pose, and feel as proud of yourself as if you were that professional ballerina that you feel is inside you. 

Tiny tots starting their first ballet class, girls graduating senior ballet, boys navigating a seemingly feminine world of ballet, professional ballerinas, adult beginner ballet students, ballet teachers, advanced adult ballet students and audiences who love watching ballets on stage — we’re all part of the same thing. We’re all part of ballet.

So what can you do when you can’t be a pro ballerina?

Whatever the fuck else you can imagine. Whatever else you can dream up.

Go forth and conquer the moment. Your moment. 

Enjoy it. Revel in it. Own it.

And always remember…

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx 

 

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Seriously. Shake it Off.

YOU ARE AWESOME.

YOU ARE JUST RIGHT.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Don’t worry about what other people say. Just be you. ‘Cause that’s what the world needs. Just you being you.

And to back me up on this concept I’ve recruited my fan-girl-crush Taylor to share her awesome words of truth.

P.S – Check out the video. It’s the outtakes of Taylor with the ballerinas shooting her video and it’s fabulous. I especially love seeing the ballerinas at the end of the clip shaking it off. Such a gorgeous pick-me-up.

Advice from Taylor:

I stay up too late, got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say mmm, that’s what people say mm
I go on too many dates, but I can’t make ’em stay
At least that’s what people say mmm, that’s what people say mmm

But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I’ll never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see mmm, that’s what they don’t see mmm
I’m dancing on my own (dancing on my own), I’ll make the moves up as I go (moves up as I go)
And that’s what they don’t know mmm, that’s what they don’t know mmm

But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
It’s like I got this music in my body saying it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Hey, hey, hey, just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and dirty, dirty cheats in the world you could have been getting down to this sick beat

My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She’s like “oh my God”, but I’m just gonna shake it
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won’t you come on over, baby, we can shake, shake, shake

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Big thanks to Taylor for having a personality independent of what other people think of her and for just generally rocking.

Take care everyone.

Bush xxx

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Good News! (and a video of BB's pas de bourree)

This video was taken 3 days before my ribcage injuries and lung issues flared up. Remember my pas de bourree call for help? I got so many beautiful responses. People explaining it to me, one special soul even video’d herself doing it and sent it to me to learn from. I was so overwhelmed with warmth. Anyway, I had been working so hard on getting it right and I kinda sorta got it right and wanted to show you all so I filmed it (as well as a little something extra – bit embarrassing!)

Then as I said, 3 days later everything changed for me and I didn’t get around to uploading the video. Anyway hope you all enjoy — especial RO, I totally threw that last part in for you as I am pretty embarrassed by it 😉

Now for some good news: I spoke to an amazing physio yesterday who is experienced with my condition and it seems I have reason to believe I will be able to return to the barre! She can help me strengthen my weaker areas and figure out which parts of ballet might be aggravating for me. I can have Skype consults which means I get access to this amazing physio from the bush! Waahoooo! Happy dancin’! 😀 No absolutes yet, but I am feeling optimistic for the first time in a good decent while! 

Ahhhhh, feel like I can breathe! 

How amazing is it that I just wrote that “Can’t let go” post a couple of days ago and then I meet this physio on facebook! I find that astounding. Thank you universe! 

I feel so completely blessed. 🙂 🙂

Okay, here’s the video…

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I did it. I let go. And OMG…

Had a great class.

Finished the class.

Let go of my mind. Just danced — mostly practicing the chassé pas de bourreé that I had been learning in Sydney. And…

I felt it.

The love, passion, connection with the music and with myself. The allowance to just be me. The freedom. It literally felt like the chains fell away.

My heart opened, filled, and overflowed with happiness. I felt for the first time, like I could actually move freely. Like I didn’t need to be in my head.

I was all like…

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So amazing. I feel invigorated.

I also discovered I like balancing on one leg while on demi pointe. Who knew? I’m usually so afraid of demi because of my lack of balance, but that must be improving because I just loved being up there. I don’t know why, just felt a little like flying.

I hope everyone else is having a fabulous dance day, too.

😀

Zoë

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Urban Dance Just Blew My Mind

So, if I had a mini crush on Ski Ballet, then I have fallen head-over-heels, love-at-first-sight, in love with Urban Dance!

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. This is about as street dance as I get. (The street dance part is me rocking the hoodie)

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So, I’m clearly no expert. Everything I am writing on this post is just my opinion about this group of dancers.

I had NO idea what was coming when I typed “Urban Dance” into YouTube. A little while couple of hours later, and I’m all like “Get me to Germany, man! No I can’t dance, but damn, I wanna go and watch and absorb!”

These dancers are ah-maze-ing! They are a bunch of dance artists who perform on their own and together, and they put on these incredible Urban Dance Camp workshops each year — in a different country each year (this year they are meeting in Germany!). They are focused on studio styles and street styles. I think this means they basically include everything? From what I gather, studio styles are choreographed when perhaps the street styles aren’t? I’m not 100% clear on this though, and there does seem to be routines that are choreographed but contain many different styles.

They use popping, crunching, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, dubstep (no, I didn’t just make that up), and a whole lot of types of street dance that I don’t know the names of — I tried to find out what they were, I really did!

Some of the routines contain a huge amount of classy swagger, like these two. I LOVE these routines. CANNOT get enough.

This one is danced by Keone and Mariel Madrid, and it makes my heart sway…

And this one is danced by Hilty and Bosch and man have they got some swagger!

Some performances use great costumes, adding to the characters in the dance. This surprised me. I wasn’t expecting characters or a story in these dances at all. It makes them so much more enjoyable to watch and gives them a lot more depth.

They use fantastic music, which they match with their fantastic musicality. They are just all round incredible dancers. Technically great and original.

Are you feeling the love yet? No? Need more convincing? Okay, here ya go then…

Keone and Mariel Madrid again but in a sexy street/contemporary (streetemporary?) dance…

And last but oh so not least, the first Urban Dance video I ever watched. The one that started it all. A performance by Nonstop (Marquese Scott) and Poppin’ John. You’re welcome 🙂 …

You can find many more awesome videos of these dancers on YouTube. And I will be adding these videos to a new “Dance Inspiration” page for future reference.

I hope some day I can delve further into these guys and gals. I’d love to know how and why they all started. And how Urban Dance Camp came into being. And I would really love to attend a workshop to just watch and absorb. So inspired!

I would love to hear from everyone, what other forms of dance you have tried, outside of ballet? Or are you a ballet purist?

I’d sign off by saying, “Now go crunch and pop something”, but just in case any of you see that and think of eating crisps and popcorn, I will sign off with…

So, go fall into the dance form that you love, disappear, and then find yourself. 🙂

Bush