More than 20 years ago, I allowed the first love of my life to slowly slip away. We were then reacquainted 10 years ago for a brief, happy, but not overly fulfilling affair, after which I was convinced that my passion for ballet – my first love – had fizzled out and that I would find joy through other forms of dance.
Unexpectedly, and in a totally unplanned manner, a series of circumstances found me back in an adult ballet class about 4 months ago. I was persuaded to join a class “just for fun”; I thought I’d do one, two classes at most, then probably give up.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Although I struggled to keep up that first class, I was hooked before the 90 minutes was over. As a younger dancer, I loved the challenges that the quest for perfection in ballet presented, the exhilaration of expressing myself with my body, being encouraged and pushed to give my very best, and the thrill of making little achievements. Much credit has to go to our teacher, Tibor, who within my first two classes, managed to push all those buttons, and who has been very instrumental in re-kindling my passion for ballet.
Coincidentally, my return to ballet occurred a few weeks shy of my 40th birthday, inspiring me to set myself a 52-week challenge – to re-build the strength, flexibility, technique and artistry required to be able to stand beside the other dancers in class and dance with them; to experience the joy of dancing ballet again, which I have rediscovered absolutely soothes and nurtures my soul.
At the start of my challenge, I decided to keep a journal of the 52 weeks and to share the journey online as a blog, simply titled “52 weeks”. My initial reasons for the blog were humble ones – to keep myself honest to the goal I had set, and to ensure I kept up to date with my entries. Along the way, if I were able to inspire others to take on a similar journey themselves, perhaps provide teachers of adult dancers an insight into our minds and what motivates us, or if I were able to make friends with those who share in the passion, it would be more than I had dared to dream.
But as I write this guest post for 4dancers, a quarter way into my 52 weeks, I have found that the blog has grown in its purpose.
Writing a personal blog and sharing my thoughts and feelings so publicly challenge me on many levels, and take me out of my comfort zone; adding yet another personal development dimension to my challenge. Looking out for material for my blog has also made me much more conscious about my whole experience – the things that happen to me and around me. It has made me reflect more diligently on the lessons I’ve learnt along the way, and to ask more questions of those around me.
Never having been one to keep a personal journal, I have surprisingly found that blogging about my journey has become a weekly ritual that I look forward to and find very comforting to do.
It has also given me a vehicle that allows me to participate in and contribute to the online dance community, which I’m finding is a very supportive one filled with interesting and wonderful personalities. One of the first people I’ve met online is Catherine (owner and editor of this thriving 4dancers.org blog) who so generously provided me the opportunity to contribute this guest post. (Thanks again, Catherine!)
Over the weeks, it has occurred to me that I’d love to use my blog to give a voice to adult ballet dancers whom I’ve been meeting along the way – all of us with a shared passion but with such different reasons for doing it, and having travelled such diverse paths over the years to arrive at these same classes. There is so much I’ve been wondering about adult ballet dancers (having just become one myself); How do adult dancers inspire themselves? What do they work towards and how do they know they’re improving? Do they need to have defined levels of achievement (as most of us had as younger dancers, with exams and certifications) or is the joy of dancing enough to keep them coming back to classes every week? Does it matter whether or not their teachers correct and push them to their individual limits, or do they prefer to be left alone and allowed to just dance recreationally? I hope to explore all these questions and more over these 52 weeks with the many dancers I dance with, and blog about what I discover.
In my blog, you will meet Tibor, my teacher and coach who has agreed to travel with me on my journey to provide the guidance and inspiration I need. While in my first few months of blogging I’ve been rather conscious about writing too much about Tibor, I have finally decided that my blog will also be a tribute to him as an outstanding teacher, and that it can be as much about him as it is about me. It sounds so clichéd, but I have never been taught nor been so positively affected by a teacher as inspirational as Tibor and from the outpouring of love, respect and affection I’ve seen shown to him by all whom I dance with, as well as his talented pre-professional teen students, I know that I am definitely not alone in feeling this way; it is my hope that along the way, I will be able to capture and share through my blogs the essence of a great, passionate, generous and inspirational teacher.
The journey has just begun, and I know not what lies ahead, but I know I’m excited by most possibilities. It has already been one big roller-coaster ride so far, and I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it, especially the lovely and interesting people I’m meeting along the way, and despite the dull body aches that have become an almost constant companion. If you find the time, please do drop by at www.52weeksofballet.com and join me on my journey! I’d love to see you there.
BIO: Jean Kyle is an adult ballet dancer from Sydney, Australia, who recently rediscovered her passion for ballet unexpectedly. She has set herself a 52-week challenge to re-build her strength, technique, flexibility and artistry in order to really enjoy dancing once again, and is sharing her journey through her blog www.52weeksofballet.com. She hopes to capture and share the highs and the lows, the triumphs and the frustrations, the lessons and anything else that come her way on this journey. In the process, she hopes to make some new friends who share in the passion.