Trust Yourself

Today, as we do on most Saturday mornings, my mom drove me to the dance studio for my private lesson.  I love to dance, but lately I have been disappointed in my performance.  I was moved up mid-way through the year to the next division, which was great.  I am dancing more – more classes and longer classes.  Classical ballet has been a big change for me.  It is extremely hard on your body.  It requires focus and discipline that is different from my last six years of recreational dance.  I took ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical, and musical theater – but the focus was less on technique and more on choreography.  Classical ballet is all about building strength through small movements and artistry through technique.  It is very challenging and makes me doubt myself.  My Friday night class is the same way.  My teacher is really strict and serious.  She gives out a lot of corrections and I get way more than my share.  My mom says this is good because it means that I am learning, but it messes with my confidence and then I blank out and lose focus.  I end up messing up, and forgetting combinations, and losing my form.



After today’s lesson, my private instructor told my mom that I had improved a great deal, but it doesn’t seem like it to me.  She told my mom that I am too hard on myself.  In the car on the way home, my mom said that my biggest problem is that I don’t trust myself – not my mind, not my gut, not my body.  She said that I doubt myself and second guess myself and that a lot of my mistakes come from that.  She also said that power and success come from trusting yourself.  I have been told that I overthink things.  My teachers at school even say it.  At parent teacher conference last week, my teachers pointed out to my parents how I will answer a question correctly on a test the first time; then I doubt myself or overthink the question and end up choosing another answer.  I end up choosing the wrong answer the second time around and if I’d only trusted myself, I would have gotten it right.  It happens all the time!  My mom said that her granny used to tell her to “go with what your first mind tells you.”  She said that once she started to do that, she had less regret.  It happens to me in dance too.  I get nervous and scared and it causes me to mess up.  I have to learn to trust myself enough to know what my mind knows and what my body can do.  Once I am able to do that, I can let go and dance without thinking about it.  No overthinking.  No fear.  No disappointment.  No regrets.  I promised my mom that this was something that I am going to work on.  I promised myself too.  Trust yourself, Ainsley.  Trust yourself!

African-American Ballerinas

There are African-American Ballerinas you know?  The most famous right now is Misty Copeland.  There are others, but not a lot of others.  Misty Copeland is the third African-American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre and she is trying to expand ballet to more students of color through her Project Plié program.  Last week I was talking to my dance teacher, Ms. Erica, about whether or not it would even be possible for me to be a classical ballet dancer someday.  She said that it would, even though there are still a lot of people who don’t think that African-Americans make very good ballerinas.  Even Misty Copeland, as small as she is, was told when she was starting out that she had the wrong body type for a ballerina, that she was too muscular.   I am tall and muscular and built “solid,” like my dad says.  I hope that I will get so much better as a dancer and if I choose to pursue classical ballet as a career that somebody will see the artistry in my dance and in my body and give me a chance to dance for a ballet company, not because I’m black, but regardless of the fact that I am black.

Look at these articles, which will tell you more about the subject.
NY Times: Where Are All the Black Swans?
Huffington Post: Misty Copeland, Ashley Murphy & Ebony Williams Cover ‘Pointe,’ Proving Black Ballerinas Rock

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