Ballet Life Lessons

When parents register their children for ballet classes, we hear a variety of different reasons why. A few of those reasons include developing coordination, good posture, and grace. Another is to build self-esteem. Reasons that we don’t generally hear, but are applicable, include enhancing academic development and building critical thinking.

 

  1. In ballet class, dancers are taught tools that help them develop as dancers and process the vast amount of information for which they become responsible. Many of those ballet tools become life lessons. Students learn that behaving in a responsible manner creates opportunities for them and helps create a pleasant environment. One example of responsible behavior is arriving on time for class and rehearsal. This insures that they don’t miss valuable material that is covered. It also shows respect for themselves as individuals, and for those with whom they are working. Another example is being prepared for class and rehearsal (bringing usable pointe shoes, dressing in their uniform, putting up their hair appropriately, going to the restroom beforehand, reviewing the material covered in the prior class or rehearsal, etc.). Again this helps build self-respect and shows respect for others. It also demonstrates common courtesy. The young dancers learn that they can positively impact their immediate environment. They also learn that responsible behavior yields opportunities that would not otherwise have been available.
  2. Hard work pays off. If a student does their work during class they progress. They get promoted and move through the process of training. They learn that their behavior can influence the path their life is taking. They learn that this progress leads to accomplishments and those accomplishments bring them joy. They are then on the path to learning how to be self-motivated and build self-esteem.
  3. Students learn through their training process that staying focused enhances not only the progress they are making, but also helps put their thought processes in order. This helps them learn how to learn. This teaches young dancers that they are capable, and that they can and should take an active role in their learning process.
  4. Dancers learn how to connect the dots. Information learned at the barre is the foundation for what is done during the remainder of class. Each piece of information is a ballet dot. The students need to learn how to take that information with them to the center part of class and weave it all together. As the center of class proceeds they are given more ballet dots that then have to be added to their training tapestry. They need to learn to connect their ballet dots in order to learn how to dance. This process is similar to a child connecting the dots to make a picture. The dancers learn how to think and retain material.
  5. Put it all together and young dancers realizes that they have the capacity to make progress, to be self-reliant, and to be disciplined. They learn that these accomplishments bring them joy and satisfaction. Through these personal accomplishments, they learn to develop self-esteem. Self-esteem does not come from the outside; it comes from inside of one’s self. It has to be learned. The tools that initially develop self-esteem need continual nourishment for the process to evolve. These are tools for life, which help bring peace, contentment, and success.
  6. Critical thinking is honed through classes and rehearsals, by asking students questions like why? and what makes that possible? Also, by having them explain their thought processes regarding certain steps or aspects of technique, by requiring students to answer questions or explain class material in their own words, etc. These are some examples that demonstrate how ballet promotes and develops critical thinking. Students realize that they are capable of thinking ideas through and sharing their thought processes. They learn to think for themselves and to communicate effectively. They become sheep dogs and not sheep.
  7. Resilience is learned by ballet students. Not everyone can be Clara or the Sugar Plum Fairy. Young dancers learn that life does not always play out in the manner in which they would prefer and the coping mechanisms necessary to deal with those circumstances. Disappointment is a normal part of life. An equally normal part of life should be learning to successfully deal with disappointment and that is not life shattering.
  8. Ballet students learn that there is beauty in the world and how to create it in their individual lives. They also learn how to share that beauty with those people who share their lives. They become co-creators in their universe.

 

So you see, ballet class is never just about learning ballet. It is about creating a wonderful and successful life.