It’s time for our next Adult Ballet feature–say hello to Lorry Perez!
1. How did you first get involved with ballet and what attracted you to it as an adult?
I didn’t get much exposure to the arts when I was a kid. I got a job as an usher at the Music Center in Los Angeles in my teens because it was close to my home and the hourly pay was good. I was able to see wonderful productions and I really loved it, especially dance. But as much as I loved watching ballet, it seemed very distant. It didn’t seem like something that I could ever do.
Attending the ballet has always been a wonderful and even therapeutic event so about two years ago I decided that I would look into seeing if there was even such a thing as beginner classes for adults. To be honest it didn’t seem like a possibility because I would take a beginner class and they always assumed some prior knowledge, which I didn’t have. I didn’t even know how to stand at the barre and none of the teachers wanted to deal with my lack of knowledge or skill. It all was very discouraging.
I didn’t give up though and eventually I found a wonderful teacher who offered classes for adults with zero knowledge and zero background in dance. To be able to feel just a little bit of the magic of ballet – the music, the movement, the artistry – is such an amazing gift.
2. How many classes are you currently taking per week?
I take at least three classes per week, but I would go everyday if I could!
3. What do you see as your biggest challenge as an adult ballet student?
You know, when you are a kid, everything is possible. We are less self-conscious and just freer in our minds and with our bodies. But as adults, we bring all kinds of issues with us. I struggle with my body image, with overthinking, with fear of failure or ridicule; I bring a lot of junk with me to ballet class.
An incredible and unexpected by-product of ballet class is that I am learning how to deal with all of these things both in class and outside of class! For me the biggest challenge has not been physical but mental, addressing my issues and working through them so that I can embrace my beginners mind and take a more childlike approach that allows for happiness in learning this great art. Not to say that the physical part hasn’t been a challenge. None of this comes naturally to me, but arms and legs start to behave better when I worry less and open up more.
4. What brings you the greatest joy as an adult ballet student?
I loved ballet class from the very start, but what has given me the greatest joy is progressing to the point where I now have moments that I am able to dance inside the music. It’s not every step and not even every class, but there are moments when I can really feel how the music and the movement meet and become ballet and that is pure magic! I work really hard to improve in hopes of more of that!
5. Do you have any advice for other adult ballet students?
My number one tip is to take the time to find a teacher who is not just a good dancer or has a great CV but who loves teaching and wants to share ballet with students. I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate my ballet teacher, Michael Cornell. An excellent teacher is the best thing ever; you can’t learn to dance well without one. I want a positive, safe, encouraging and challenging class and I get that and more with my awesome teacher.
The thing about having a great teacher is that it takes care of so much; his instruction isn’t limited to how to plie and tendu but extends to how to prepare for class, what to wear, class etiquette, etc. A great teacher is a great resource for an adult beginner. My advice is to find a great teacher, ask lots of questions, be open, work hard, and let your teacher know that you appreciate them!
Bio: My name is Lorry Perez. I live in Los Angeles, California with my tattooed, bearded husband, a tiny but ferocious cat, and a large, lovable dog. I spend my days as a lead research scientist, a business consultant, and spend an exorbitant amount of time writing a PhD dissertation but my evenings are devoted to attending ballet performances and going to ballet class.