A friend and colleague recently posted a quote on her Facebook page and it got me thinking. Mr. Balanchine once said: “If you don’t feel challenged, it’s because you’re not doing enough. Ballet should never feel comfortable. Comfortable is lazy! If you’re comfortable when you dance, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. 100% is not enough. You have to give 200%. One tendu takes years of hard work and will never be perfect. Everything in ballet is a challenge.”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard from my students, ‘Ballet is boring.’ Now, I’m going to get up on my soap box and give one of those, ‘in my day,’ speeches that is sadly, long overdue. I never remember feeling this way and I never remember any of the kids I grew up with ever feeling this way, let alone saying it to an instructor. In fact, I wouldn’t want to imagine what would happen to us if we had. The world is definitely changing. Students today think that a challenge is doing multiple, badly performed pirouettes, fouetté turns and big jumps. They want to perform the steps, but they have no care about how well they execute them.
I highly dislike and get frustrated when I hear students say a class is not challenging enough for them. Margot Fonteyn notoriously took beginner classes several times a week in order to perfect her technique. She challenged herself in the lowest class levels even though she was at the top of her profession. I’m sorry to say that none of my students that have told me this is a Margot Fonteyn and never will be with that attitude.