7 Ways Adult Ballet Students Can Find Inspiration

If you feel like you’re in a rut, or could use a creative boost, there are ways to get inspired. Ballet has many artistic elements to appreciate. Here’s a list of things you can do for a jolt of inspiration.

1. Listen to classical music.

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The next time you’re in class, let the music flood into your bones. Take deep breaths as you mentally and physically prepare to dance. Music has the potential to excite, motivate, and ultimately change your life. Instead of tuning into the latest hits, consider adding some classical music to your iPod – Delibes, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky. iTunes store has a vast selection you can instantly upload. You can also go to your local used bookstore and skim through the CD section (if you still use them). This is a great way to experiment with different composers and compilations on the cheap. You can even find clearance items for as little as a dollar! Tip: If you think picking a composer is too daunting, try to find a soundtrack of a specific ballet, like Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet, and start there.

2. Attend the theatre frequently.

Ballet

Look for local performance venues and research their upcoming seasons. Some companies offer discounts if you purchase entire season packages, allowing you to attend all performances at a reduced rate. Find out if the local community college puts on a student production in the fall and spring. While these are amateur productions, they’re usually free and offer a variety of numbers you might not see during a major full-length ballet. If possible, find out if major ballet companies plan to visit your area. These shows may be pricier, but seeing a major professional ballet company live is an experience you will never forget.

3. Flip through ballet photography.

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Visual inspiration is a powerful tool for getting your tutu in gear. Of course, the images you choose to focus on should communicate a positive message. Is the dancer in the photo strong and healthy? Or does it have negative connotations? Maybe the photo reminds you of how much you love class, or perhaps it’s a flattering shot of your favorite ballerina. Collect magazine and newspaper clippings. Organize them in a special dance binder, or store them in a shoe box. You can even make a collage to put on your wall. For finer quality photography, consider framing full-page photographs cut from coffee table books. Pinterest is also a fantastic resource for beautiful imagery.

4. Read about a dancer’s life.

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Reading stories about famous ballerinas can be an eye-opener, especially when they pen their memoirs. Hearing the dancer talk about their life in their own words can be fascinating, and it’s guaranteed that some aspect of their journey will peak your interest. There are dancers who have struggled with eating disorders, fought racism, or traveled great lengths to pursue their dreams. Stepping outside yourself to gain a different perspective will not only help you grow as a dancer, but as a person. Some great books to check out:  Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland, Holding Onto The Air by Suzanne Farrell, Prodigal Son by Edward Villella, All In The Dances: A Brief Life Of George Balanchine by Terry Teachout (above: George Balanchine)

5. Change up your wardrobe.

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Not to encourage retail therapy, but sometimes a new purchase can do a lot for your outlook. In my efforts to be frugal, I would wear down leotards until there were holes in all kinds of places. Ditto for tights. Particularly, I would wear sweatpants and whatever old sweater I could find before walking out the door for my warmup outfit. Finally, I broke down one day and bought myself a brand new overalls warmup. Turns out, it kept me warmer than my previous street clothes, and the versatility of being able to roll it down to my waist kept me from shedding layers prematurely. Sometimes, you just need to treat yourself to something nice.

6. Research YouTube.

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YouTube hosts hundreds of inspiring videos. A word of caution: anyone can make a video. If a person is trying to appear professional, but they clearly don’t come across that way, i.e. they are demonstrating ballet technique in their kitchen with a disheveled ponytail, dishes piled up in the sink, and their house cat using its litter box in the corner, it’s pretty safe to say they are not a reputable source of information. Watch videos that are created by actual schools and companies for educational and marketing purposes. See if you can find your favorite dancers giving interviews, or in rehearsal. Rehearsal footage is very inspiring because you see beyond the glitz of the stage and discover all the sweat and hard work involved in preparing for a performance.

7. Take class from different teachers.

Ballet teacher adjusting foot positions of ballerinas at the bar

It’s okay if you really like your particular teacher. But just for grins and giggles, try a different teacher. They may be horrible, or wonderful, but every teacher is different, and you can learn something from each class. You may decide to take the bulk of your classes from your home base, or first-choice studio, and take one class a week from someone new. Attend master classes and summer workshops. These are great opportunities to improve your technique and expand your circle.

We could all use a ballet boost now and then. Hopefully one of these things will give you the inspiration you need!


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