Quite simply, it brings beauty and grace into my life. As I practice the movements I imagine myself as tall and straight, lithe and muscular, lean and strong, beautiful and graceful. When I am successful at practicing basic ballet movements on a regular basis, I find myself carrying my body in a very different manner. I walk more gracefully. I hold my body erect. I hold my stomach in. I elongate my neck. I feel beautiful. No obstacle is too large. Life is grand. Life is a joy.
Ballet exercises strengthen my core physically, mentally and emotionally. Basic concepts include:
In order to practice ballet successfully, I must keep these ideas in mind when moving my body. As a result I begin to embody these qualities. All I have to do is bring to my mind the image of the graceful dancer and I begin to move as a graceful dancer. Coincidentally, these are qualities that I value in my life. I want to live a balanced life. I want to exhibit strength and endurance through the hard times. I want to have control of my destiny. And living in Grace is the epitome of success for me. So it’s pretty handy to be able to call on these skills at will.
Balance and Control
The practice of balance requires me to be present in every moment. There is no other way for me to attain and maintain balance. This is an extremely important skill for me as I have a tendency to want to run and hide when things get tough – especially the more extreme emotional experiences we all have from time to time.
When practicing balance I begin with the image of my body in a straight line, as in the numeral 1, with a string extending from the top of my head attached to a point directly above me. To maintain that image and subsequent physical body balance requires me to be aware of every square inch of my body and where it is in relationship to every other square inch. Concentration, focus, and control along with direction of every square inch of my body can develop. Once I have that down, I can practice movement from a point of balance.
Strength and Endurance
I perform ballet exercises that isolate specific muscles and muscle groups. Strength and endurance flow naturally from the repetitive nature of the exercises. Muscle memory is developed. Once the muscles “know” their movements, I can move freely and easily without so much conscious thought. After all, that is how I learned to walk. Only now I am walking with much great balance and control. Shorter sequences are combined into more complex dance steps.
The continuous slow movement of the lower limbs, usually with arms extended, exercises basic core muscles. Over time my abdomen has become taught. My pelvis has stabilized. Movement is precise. It seems effortless. And indeed it is because I have taken the time to build my foundation. This strong foundation provides a place from which the movement can begin to flow in the dance of life.
Beauty and Grace
Ballet exercises sculpt the body. Have you ever seen a ballerina with a disproportionate body? While I don’t strive to look that “perfect” I do appreciate the added degree of beauty and grace that ballet brings to my body and movements through life. And I strive for the underlying qualities as I’ve described to be evident in every moment of my life. I’m satisfied with my accomplishments so far. And I’m learning from a master teacher who is 75 years old and still teaching. He looks great too. Can I expect the same results? Perhaps.
Using ballet as my exercise of choice puts together balance, control, strength, endurance, beauty and grace in every aspect of my life. I feel perfectly capable of creating beauty in my life and moving through it gracefully. So that’s me . . .
What about you? What do you love? How do you define your life? Does your exercise reflect those qualities? Does it bring joy to your life?