“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
In Ballet, everything is about position. How you get to the position, how you hold the position, how well you perform the position, and how you look doing it. It is odd what happens when you grow up in a ballet studio. Some girls come out saying their years in the studio were filled with unhealthy habits and terrible memories.
My experience was a bit different. Let it be said that my studio is based on Christian principles, although the studio does not explicitly state it. A main focus of the studio is the health and well-being of the dancers.
Of course, how much the studio actually supports health depends on the teacher. Many studios only have one principle teacher. The studio I attended worked like this: a certain teacher normally was assigned to a certain level, and often two or three levels. Those levels were nearly always consecutive, and differed on different days.
For example, if I had attended level four ballet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, every class would be taught by the same teacher. To move up a level meant to change teachers. Not all studios are like this. Many dancers train under the same teacher their entire young careers.
That is the first reason I say my experience was different.
Second, you hear a lot about how much focus goes into physical appearance. This focus is so acute that it often results in teachers consistently giving better parts to thinner girls. It should also be of note that many of these observations are aimed towards the girls who do not quite fit the standard. Who are perhaps a little larger than the rest of the class.
What would the experience be for a dancer who was better than some others? Well, the other dancers would pull away from her, as the student began to feel like an outcast. That was more my experience, although I did not know it. Kids do not really understand that they are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than anyone else, they only notice when people start acting differently because of it.
At the age of eleven or twelve, I can’t remember which, I went from being a level 3 to a level 5. This type of jump is rare and only happens to the girls the teachers see the most potential in. My only knowledge of what had happened was that I suddenly ended up in a class of people who did not seem to like me, and no friends.
I never actually had any close female friends through my entire time at high school. The only girls I became close to were part of my church or other organizations. When at dance, I was constantly a loner.
Remember what I said about the dancers who are a little different sticking out? Well, when you are average size in the middle of a group of girls who all are terribly underweight, you begin to believe that you are fat.
Everything was about position. I think the only reason I did not outright quit dance was because I loved it too much. Although I did not have the best mental relationship with dance for a long time, I did know that nothing else made me as happy as being on stage or in the studio.
But how do we respond to life in one position? All too often, I get my brain wrapped around one idea: sometimes its prayer, then praise, then worship. More often it gets intertwined into ideas like depression, anxiety, negativity, and general irritation. When we trap ourselves in the position, we instantly begin comparing ourselves to everyone else.
How do their relationships look? Why do I not have a boyfriend/girlfriend like that? Why do they seem so put together all the time? They are always happy/cool/funny etc. etc.
We attack ourselves constantly. In this culture, we put a ton of stress on success. How far your personal life dwindles is of little importance. We know that our emotions will get out of control and our lives will become a mess, but we run ourselves to the ground anyway.
God made the sabbath on purpose. You know, God doesn’t make anything without a reason? If He set a day apart and went as far as to put a command about taking a day off in the Ten Commandments, don’t you think it would be important?
Keep the Sabbath. Keep it Holy. The words we would use today are: take a break. Let your soul get back to where it needs to be.
When we try to pour out of an empty bottle, nothing happens. We must get into a new position. One of prayer and of receptiveness to the grace, peace, and rest God has set apart from us. Do not be afraid to take a break.
I went back to my studio as a teacher’s assistant. The teacher I was helping was explaining why we don’t want to get injured. She said, “we want you to be healthy dancers who don’t get injured. Because when you are injured, you have to take time off dance, and then you lose technique, then you will never get better.”
I heartily disagree. I have been injured for the past year and nothing better could have happened. I took time off, but I am getting better. I improved over the time I was in rehab.
Sometimes, a little rest is all we need.
Be blessed today.