Monday, June 20, 2011

How did you know you loved ballet?

The other day I was asked this question and I didn't really know what to answer. Ballet has been with me during a really long period of time in my life and I think there is not a "real" moment in which I said: "oh my, this is what I like best!" (even though I think of that everyday; you know what I mean!).

So I have been reading some other adult dancers' blogs, such as DaveTriesBallet, PointeTilYouDrop or AdultBeginner, and I have seen that some of them have written this "why I started Ballet" blogpost, so I thought this was my turn to tell you my story. I warn you: it's a very long story. Here it is, from the VERY beginning:

Believe it or not, this tale starts when my mother was 16 years old and she went to school. There, she had a friend that went to ballet lessons since she was a child. This girl was probably the only person in that school that took those lessons. One day, she asked her teacher at school if she could perform "The Dying Swan" at the end of the year party. Of course, she was told a big YES. My mother saw the performance and was absolutely amazed (or at least, that's what she told me).

More than 20 years after that, in 1996, I was at school at the age of six, when suddenly my mother told me that there was a new activity organized by my school: BALLET. I guess you all understand that at that point I had no idea what "ballet" was. But my mother insisted, so she asked the ballet teacher (let's call her Mrs. R) if my sister and I could attend her lessons even though the term had started a month ago or so. Of course we could. But I have to admit that I was not happy with it. My first class was a complete mess. I was a very shy person (I still am) and I didn't know how to interact with my older classmates (some of them were 12); they already knew the positions, so I felt kind of stupid when Mrs. R said "à la seconde" and things like that in French.

Anyway, I managed to finish my first year of ballet and got prepared for the final show. I recently found this really old picture of the performance (June 1997). I am the little girl down, and my sister is right behind me:

And that's how I spent the following seven years of my life. I ended up enjoying ballet lessons a lot. I started pointe when I was 11 and my teacher, Mrs. R, kept saying that classical ballet was "my thing" and my feet were amazing. Yeah, I felt really proud because the first day I put my pointe shoes on I could walk normally en pointe, while my classmates kept saying it was too painful.

When I was 13 we did our first "on pointe" performance. It didn't look really awesome (I've seen the video now and it's a little ridiculous), but it felt so good back then! And some months after that I had my first solo in front of an enormous crowd during a fashion show. My dancing lasted about thirty seconds or so, but I felt so HAPPY I can't even explain!

And then... STOP.

Why? Because another dance teacher came to teach ballroom dancing at my school and her prices were a whole lot CHEAPER. As a result, Mrs. R had to stop coming, since she had no students to work with. My sister and I wanted her back, but it's normal she didn't come. It didn't make sense financially to go all that way. But she did suggest us to go to the county town everyday and finish our training. What did we say? "No", of course. We were little girls studying at a little school and we couldn't make a half-an-hour trip with our parents to go to a real dance studio everyday. Impossible. And guess what. I've regretted my decision EVER SINCE.

As a young little girl... you don't know what you want. You don't know what you have until you lose it. I wanted to keep dancing with my whole heart, but I started to have difficult exams at the High School and knew that it would be impossible for me to go to town everyday and "waste" my time while I should be studying. Between 2003 and 2007 I started to forget the idea of ballet, but I still remembered those lovely lessons and performances.

Now I'm watching my wall of stuff and I can see my ticket of "Sleeping Beauty", by Saint-Petersburg Ballet in May 2008. That was probably the first whole and real performance of classical ballet I saw. Yes, I guess that's possibly the first day I thought "I LOVE THIS; I want to take lessons again to be able to do THAT". What was the problem, then? Again, my studies. I was still in High School. It was my last year and I had to study a lot. So I thought I could wait until I started university.

I did wait. I came to Salamanca, which is a county town with many ballet studios. But I wasn't outgoing enough to take the initiative. I was shy and I didn't feel confident to go to a ballet school and asked if there was a place for me in there. I didn't want to be in the same class as little girls that would surely be far more talented than me. So I kept going to ballet performances and quietly wanting to be one of those ballerinas. Until December 2009, when I watched "Swan Lake" by Moscow Ballet and was absolutely overwhelmed. It was amazing. It became my favourite ballet ever (I wrote a whole blog entry in Spanish about it... here). And I made the decision: after my Erasmus in London, the following year I WOULD GO to a ballet school and learn how to dance.

My Erasmus experience also helped a lot. I lived in London, so I could go to Covent Garden everyday if I wanted. I found the Royal Opera House spectacular, though I didn't go inside until a few days before coming back to Spain. In May 2010 I saw "Electric Counterpoint / Asphodel Meadows / Carmen" in there and it was wonderful. I could finally see my idol Tamara Rojo performing in real life and I can't explain how much I loved that day.

Well yes, I can explain it: when the following academic year started, I went to a ballet school and had the courage to ask for information. The recepcionist was so nice with me! She asked me if I had danced before. I told her that even if I had danced for seven years, I felt like an absolute beginner, so she invited me to go to an adult beginner's class.

And that's where I have been ever since. At the beginning I didn't feel very confident. Mrs. lovely C doesn't teach the same way as Mrs. R did, but I have to say that I'm learning a lot more with her. I'm learning to know my body, my muscles and my position. And after eight months of lessons I'm starting to actually feel like dancing again.

That's why I love ballet.
Because nothing feels better than that.



  1. Nerea, thank you so much for sharing this! I have recently written my own ballet story, and I just loved reading about yours. Even got teary eyed... I am so happy you started dancing again! I am hunting for a ballet school, but it has been VERY frustrating, considering I live in london!!

    It is Nina from Ballerina head BTW! having a hard time commenting heheheh
    And thank you for linking me to your blog! I have now worked out how to reciprocate!

  2. I'm just starting ballet and i think its fun, Nice topic, Thanks for sharing.I'm inspired to your story, next time i visit a ballet school,