The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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On Working Your Butt Off October 9, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet,ballet class — theworstat @ 5:16 pm
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I’m going to start by saying that at least one person commenting on this blog has used a term similar to the term in the title of this entry, and that today’s entry has nothing to do with that person or with that comment.  The following article was not prompted by that comment or that person, whose comments I really enjoy.

I’m just making an observation that, if someone has said something truly bad about a dancer and a fan of that dancer is attempting a defense, perhaps “she worked so hard to get where she is!” isn’t a very good defense.

Why isn’t it a good defense?  Because it can be argued that every dancer in every major company in the world worked extremely hard to get where he or she is.  Ballet is supremely unnatural.  Even if one is born with a superior aptitude for it, one has to work day in and day out for years to get into a big company…or even into a little one.  And once there, the work never stops unless one wants to forfeit one’s career.

Because of that, saying “s/he worked so hard!” is rather like saying that s/he is breathing.

A better defense of a dancer is to say that watching his or her dancing transforms your life, that he or she defies the laws of gravity, or that he or she redefines grace.  I’m willing to bet that among dancers there is no such thing as a hard worker among hard workers, although I have read that Darcey Bussell, during her school years, got into trouble with some of her teachers for working too hard.  There was a hint of the same comment made about Joy Womack.  Of course, the verdict on Darcey Bussell has been long since signed, sealed and delivered and she is retired and in the history books; Joy, on the other hand, is just now taking her first baby steps as a professional, and her future is a blank page.

Anyway, I’ll wager that working too hard in school and working too hard as a professional may be two different things.  But that’s for another post.  The fact is, in ballet hard work is THE rule.

I think that in the future I’ll avoid any remark about how hard an individual dancer works, even though I don’t think I’ve made such comments in the past.  Again, in terms of ballet, hard work is the rule.  No one who wants a career dares break that rule.

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2 Responses to “On Working Your Butt Off”

  1. AlineS Says:

    Working too hard on ballet have given me a piriformis syndrome. It happenend back when I was sixteen and, for not treating it properly, I’m nineteen and it still gives me pain. I’m doing physiotherapy now, and my doctor told me I should not dance anymore. Perharps, I’m not going to stop until I don’t have time for it. It could be a huge problem for someone who wants to be a professional dancer, like Womack. Hope she can control herself and listen to her teachers…

    • theworstat Says:

      Womack is now in the corps of the Bolshoi, and I have no doubt she is still working her butt off. I think what her main teacher at the academy said was that, “she wants it so bad that her legs shake,” meaning the tension was affecting her legs. She has had some injuries but I think she survived the school part. Now we’ll see how she does as a professional.

      I was very sorry to read that you have developed a permanent injury. I can only think of Lopatkina, who apparently kept dancing for a long time on an injury until it got so bad she had to take 2 years off. I hope the physiotherapy helps you and the injury stays stable or gets better. Please keep us informed on how you are doing.


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