Answers 4 Dancers
Dale, Grover, Dance Magazine
TONY AWARD-WINNING CHOREOGRAPHER GROVER DALE IS EDITOR OF DANCE & FITNESS MAGAZINE. FOR THIS COLUMN, HE DRAWS ON HIS EXPERIENCES AND ASSOCIATIONS WITH 16 BROADWAY SHOWS, 8 FEATURE FILMS, AND OVER 100 TELEVISION SPECIALS.
IF I DIDN'T DOUBT MYSELF SO MUCH, I COULD BE A BALLET DANCER!
When I was 12, I fell passionately in love with ballet. I began taking a beginner class, but the teacher, who was probably wrong, told me I was too old to seriously pursue ballet. Everyone else I knew seemed to agree with that. So I decided to switch to modern before I got too old to be serious about that, too.
Now I'm 15. For the past three years I've been studying a type of modern that is very related to ballet, and I have been doing well. But for some reason a desire to dance on my toes will not leave me, and I cannot stop thinking about how deeply I want to be a real ballet dancer. I have recently started taking classes at a good studio, and my teacher told me she doesn't think it's too late for me to be a ballet dancer. I was ecstatic when I heard this. It seemed as if a whole new world had opened for me. But I can't help wondering--after all the years I've wasted doubting myself, is there really any hope left for me of becoming a professional ballet dancer, or would you consider it wisest for me to study modern instead, although that isn't really what I want?
You're very lucky and you're very smart. You found a teacher who's encouraging you to become the ballet dancer you've always wanted to be. That's great! You've also come to recognize that doubting yourself may not be the best use of your energy. Both are healthy revelations. Congratulations!
Now that this whole new world has been opened up for you, you seem to need a little extra encouragement to get yourself on track. Your teacher is the advisor to turn to. Talk to her. She's the one who's witnessing your progress in class and can give you feedback about where your next improvements can be made.
I can, however, offer this: The arrival at professional levels in any form of dance is not determined only by age or the number of years devoted to it. It's also determined by how dedicated and committed you are to the process of getting there. If you have the appropriate body type and are willing to roll up your sleeves and take on the work, the training, the grooming, and the research, your arrival at whatever level you desire is truly in your own hands. …