Changing my Ballet Technique

"Push your shoulders back," they said. I pulled them down even harder, not understanding what they meant. For four years straight, I received this correction continually from multiple teachers including my pilates instructor.

Unfortunately, my dancing stayed the same. I just didn’t get it.

It wasn’t until Magaly grabbed my shoulders & pulled them BACK that I KNEW what I was supposed to do! It felt so foreign to me, I felt like I was over arching and putting my head above and past my heels. I think I even asked her “is this where they’re supposed to be?” She gave me an emphatic “Yes!” with all the gusto of her Cuban Ballet heritage.

I knew I could easily forget the correct posture with it’s “wrong” way of feeling so I spent the rest of class walking around with the uprightness of a warhorse leading the victory march and attempted to do combinations. Don’t ask me about the petit allegro that day. Small jumps are the hardest for me, mentally and physically.

For the next 9 months, I practiced this correction consistently! Even walking around my retail job with this mentally demanding posture! When I adjusted the positioning of my hips a year later, I saw an incredible change in my dancing! Turns came easily on a regular basis! More fluid and graceful than ever, I enjoyed moving like I rarely had before! What had happened?

Turns out, my entire spine had been curved inward and tucked in ways that made graceful movement impossible. My arms had no freedom and my legs were clenched in a perfectionistic paralysis. Don’t get me wrong, I was already good at this point. I’d gotten positive feedback from a company audition where they could only hire a single guy. But now I’d broken through a glass ceiling and reached another level of capabilities!

Why do so few dancers get to this point?

Why do so few human beings reach this level of freedom?

Change is hard. In my case, I was shifting entire “paradigms” I had based my movement around for Years! Rewriting them required complete trust in my teacher facing a level of awkwardness I was very uncertain about. But it paid off in the end because what I received was far better than what I had been holding onto so tightly before.

Sometimes I’ve felt like changing my ways of thinking have been very similar. I’m exposed to a concept in a fresh way that forces me to think differently and as I face the awkwardness of adjusting, I experience more freedom and joy in living.

So what is something you’re challenged to change? Does it feel awkward to you? Have you experienced the joy of reaching a breakthrough?

Oh, and for the record, I’m still opening the wrong silverware drawer.