Happy Valentines Day everyone!
This is a transcript of the solo episode (#9) on the Balanced Ballerinas podcast…
I’ve just finished teaching my Seniors (50+) ballet class and thought I’d drop into your ears for a little valentines day episode to remind us all why we love ballet so much.
I also love Valentines Day, which is probably why I’m doing this episode! I have always been a fan of today and I know I know – it’s a commercial holiday thats only great for florists and chocolatiers blah blah. But my Mum always gave us little chocolates in our lunch boxes or cards that said I love you…
Mum treated Valentines Day as a day to remind her family how much she loved them. Which I think is just beautiful and a memory I’ll never forget. Now at 28 years-old, she’ll still get me my favourite chocolate (which is freckles by the way!) or write a lovely card… and it’s a tradition I’d like to continue one day if I ever have children.
So whether I’ve been single, happily coupled up, not so happily coupled up or listening to a girlfriend complain about her boyfriend not getting her anything for valentines day, I’ve always loved this day and used it to remind those around me just how much I love them. So I encourage you to do the same today. Even if it’s a simple text.
Now lets get on with the real reason I’m here – to tell you why I love ballet so much…
Now I’m going to do something very narcissistic and quote myself… only because it perfectly captures the tone of todays podcast. On Valentines Day back in (2017) I wrote on my social media platform;
“To my first love, ballet. You made me the woman I am today; my discipline, tenacity and essence is all thanks to you.”
You see, this is why I love ballet. Because it truly extends far beyond physical benefits. Although it has plenty of those too!
While it’s always nice to have toned calf muscles and excellent posture, you’ll receive so much more than aesthetic benefits from taking regular ballet classes. I say ‘regular’ because many people expect these benefits after one or two classes, which is very unrealistic. As everyone knows, consistency and repetition is key.
So let’s break this down into three categories, starting with the physical. We’ll move from health, to performance & finish on one of my favourites – community.
Not only will regular ballet classes keep you fit and healthy, it will also IMPROVE your health.
I’ve had many people (who attend regular classes) come to me after six months or a year and claim to have improved (or beaten!) chronic back pain, mental illness or another health issue thats been ongoing.
Now I’m no doctor, but my clients are too smitten with their improved health to be lying. And the proofs in the pudding. I witness changes in my clients over time and even they make the connection between these changes and their ballet practise.
In ballet, every inch of your muscles are actively engaged which makes a dancer incredibly aerobic fit – this means your bodies ability to take oxygen and use it to produce energy in the muscle cells. This can only be fabulous for many health issues.
Still on the topic of health, let’s talk increased brain function! It’s no secret that during a ballet class you use a lot of brain power. Not only are you concentrating on WHAT you’re doing, but HOW you’re doing it, in time with the music WHILST having corrections thrown at you left, right and centre.
Speaking of music…
Classical music has been shown to stimulate ‘alpha’ brain waves which are responsible for making the mind calm and meditative. When your brain is in ‘alpha mode’ it enhances your ability to learn, communicate, think and it increases your intuition. Cool huh?!
Speaking of all these benefits; in 2018 Queensland Ballet released Stage 1 of their research report into ‘Ballet Moves for Creative Health’ which focussed on adults participating in ballet and other dance classes. This research was supported by the Queensland Government, which is huge! This means that finally ballet and other creative movement is being taken seriously by health professionals.
I constantly thank ‘ballet’ for my ability to be disciplined throughout all aspects of my life. For example; running my own business requires a huge amount of discipline. Some days I’d rather go get a coffee or head to the movies instead of sitting down (all alone) with a mountain of paperwork.
Ballet has taught me to soldier on, work through difficult times and most importantly keep my head held high during the process.
The act of repetitive exercise with constant challenges only improves your ability to work harder and more proficiently at anything you come across in life.
An unsurprising fact (also found in the Queensland Ballet study I mentioned) was that adult participants had deep emotional ties with their study of ballet. Whether is was because they were filling a child-hood dream or because they felt like they finally found their tribe, the majority of participants didn’t participate in ballet because it was ‘fun’ or ‘something to do’, they participated because they felt a sense of belonging.
Physical exercise was also commonly reported as a motivation, however it was not discussed with the same enthusiasm or to the same extent as the emotional and social motivators, suggesting that while exercise might have been considered a reason to attend ballet classes, it was not the central motivator.
What I love about my own adult ballet community is that they are so supportive of one another. There’s no judgement or competitiveness. Everyone just nurtures and supports one another.
I love seeing groups have ‘me time’ in class and then head off to coffee with some of the others! It seriously makes me so happy that I’ve been able to provide a space that fosters such a loving and healthy community. Seriously, so happy!
With children, a dance studio is a home away from home. The amount of students who tell us things that have nothing to do with dance but are deeply troubling them is astonishing. However this means they feel safe and that’s a positive thing.
Also, if a student is having troubles at home or being bullied at school, their dance studio is hopefully a space they can come to relax, connect with themselves and enjoy some peace. This is why I’m incredibly protective of my own studio space. If I sense any kind of bullying or negative vibes I hit it on the head straight away.
But in conclusion, whether its children or adults – a regular ballet class provides social connection with like minded individuals who share a love of movement, beautiful classical music and a passion for focus. This can only bring good things to someones life.
So if you’re joining ballet classes with the hope of losing a few kilos, you’re going to be a little surprised when you find out you’re benefiting far greater than dropping a dress size!
So that’s basically the three main reasons I love ballet!
Now, since it’s all about love today… I’m going to ask a favour. I would LOVE if you could share the love by writing a review on iTunes for the BB podcast. It helps the podcast keep running and be seen by more balanced ballerinas around the world.
Speaking of around the world, a big thanks to Melissa (from the UK) for the review of the week,
“I’ve just finished all the podcast episodes. I can’t wait for the next one! It’s relatable, informative and just blooming brilliant!”
Thank you Melissa! Truly, thank you.
As always, have a beautiful week everyone (full of grit with a little grace) and Happy Valentines Day!