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Stage Fright

Do you know that feeling when you feel anxious for days before a big event? Well, despite my love for ballet, I feel very anxious before any show… Every year, with my final showcase and my students, all the preparations, the tutus, the music, the choreography; I might spend a week not eating or sleeping properly because of my nervous system.

But this year, this is all very different because its with myself, again. When I was just a ballet student, of course I was nervous, but, somehow, it was different. Now I’m a teacher and I’m also dancing with the company for the first year. The first performances were in may and I thought they went quite well. But now, that we are rehearsing again for the reposition next weekend, the director said that my performance wasn’t great and that she expects a lot better from me. Those words shook me so hard and I’m feeling even more nervous, because know I have to be better than myself. And, when I feel nervous, I know that I’m not good, I’m just a nervous dancer… That’s not right!

So, to everyone that feels like me and suffers from anxiety or stage fright, here are some things that can help to relax and forget the nerves:

  1. Breathe in and breathe out. Feel the air entering your lungs, use your whole lungs;
  2. Meditation. Or, if you have never meditate before, just take some time for yourself, to clear your mind and to relax, daily. Try to start a few days before the big event;
  3. Organize everything that you need in advance, so you don’t have to be running for everything on the last minute;
  4. Listen to your favorite music;
  5. Remind yourself of all the hard work you had to get there and that you deserve to enjoy yourself and have fun doing something you love;
  6. Don’t be hard on your self. Of course everyone can always be better, but you are at your best at that exact moment and that’s what you have to work with;

And let our love for what we do be bigger than our anxiety πŸ™‚

 

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Carnival in Ballet Class

Today was Carnival day in Portugal. So, yesterday, was Carnival Night. Like in Brasil, we have many traditions, parades and many other ways to celebrate this day. In class, imagination is the best way to do it!! It was really fun to teach a ballet class to a rabbit, a devil, a clown, a lemon, a bee… My adult students found their way to bring something to class and still be able to dance! What a great class it was…

  
PS: That’s me with the Venice mask in the middle of the group πŸ˜‰ 

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Enough is enough

For the past 5 years i’ve been teaching ballet in a small kindergarden near my hometown. I started in a small dance room, with mirror and barres, but the floor was too hard for ballet and the ceiling was falling appart because of the rain. The room was could and there were anta everywere… Everytime I talked to the principal, he would say that it was a transitory situation because they were about to buy a new place for all the activities (ballet, karate, etc…). And, like that, the years passed… Last year (without the new classroom), I said I was tired of the situation and they decided to do some construction work in the room (yey!!!). Except, they transformed it in a small school library. So, by the end of the year, I was moving the shelfs before and after every class to adjust the room to my porposes. This year (in October 2015), they contacted me again and I said I needed conditions. Problem solved, they said I could teach in a gym nearby. “Great! Problem solved” were my thoughts. Of course they had to ruin it. It’s a 5 minute walk form the gym to the kindergarden (a bit more when you are walking with a group of three year old’s) and they asked me to be the one accompaniyng the children from one place to the other. It is worth mentioning that I teach three classes without breaks and the I drive for 10 km to teach at another school. So, with the time lost with those walks, the time of the class is shorter than it would be without all that walking… Now, think about the rain, wind, cold. It’s not easy. And, every single time I would get to the kindergarden to pick them, they weren’t even ready. I had to be the one to help them. Yesterday, the principal had the nerves to tell me: “You know, you have to teach the class for the expected time. The parents are complaining that the children don’t have ballet for a whole hour” and I politely ansewered “I know, it’s not my job picking up the children, help them get dressed and protect them from the cold and the rain. You said the situation would be solved years ago…”And the discussion went on and on. He said I needed to be patient and collaborate more. I say it’s time to scream “enough is enough”! After writing all this I realized I’ve been a fool for too long… And, you know, it’s not even worth what they pay me. It seems that, if you have a good heart, if you are a good person, people will abuse. Well, not anymore!

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From a teacher’s point of view #1

There are many words and thoughts out there about being an adult ballet student/dancer but, how about being an adult ballet student’s teacher? Well, this is my word on the subject.
About three year ago I started teaching adult students. I must confess that, at the beginning, was odd to have so much students older than me (I’m 24), some of them older enough to be my parents.Β Rapidly, that feeling was transformed into marvel. I was astonished by my adult students and there ability to work, focus and always keep trying to go further. Nowadays, those are my favorite classes. I’m with them twice a week and I’m happy to be with them every single time. Because, you know, they are really special, and I can tell you why.

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  1. They really want to be there;
    You won’t have any other student more willing to hear you and to learn than your adult student. No one makes them to be there and they understand that, if you want something, you have to work hard.
  2. They are really focused, all the time;
    Sometimes they even scare me with their serious expressions. And they’re only that serious because they are thinking about everything you said and they are trying to do it all at the same time. They know that they only have that hour and half to work and get better so, they do it.
  3. They know how to accept corrections;
    Because they are humble and understand that they are there to learn and you are there to teach. As simple as that.
  4. A compliment, is all you have to say to make them smile;
    It simbolizes their effort and their accomplishments. And also, for them, it’s a sign that you really care and you really pay attention to what they are doing. They like to be acknowledged of their work.
  5. They are capable of thinking with their brains, no only their body;
    When you explain something, some movement or step, tu an adult student, they understand it clearly. Sometimes, with children, they only try to do or perform the movement without even thinking on what they’re doing. Not with adults. Though, sometimes, they tend to overthink πŸ˜‰
  6. They value your time and theirs;
    So, the class simply flows, without interruptions. Only pertinent questions and opinions.

    It’s very different from teaching children and teens and I’m enjoying every bit of the experience! I can say that I also learn with them πŸ™‚

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Do what you love β€οΈ

Wake up early every saturday to go to work… And almost every saturday I wish I would stay in bed a little bit longer. Then, I come to school and that feeling simply disappears! It’s in this little moments that I realize: I’m very lucky to be able to do what I really love as a job! If you want a piece of advise: try as hard as you can to do what you love for a living πŸ˜‰  

  
 

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The Unfortunate Truth

Last week, a young girl came to the school where I teach ballet to enroll herself in ballet classes. She was 6 years old and her mother was with her. After filling in the papers and formalities, her mother asked the receptionist:
“How is the ballet teacher? Is she nice?”
And the receptionist promptly answered:
“Yes, she is nice and very sweet with young children.”
The mother continued:
“She doesn’t insult them?”
It was like a slap in the face for the director of the school, who was listening to the conversation. “What?!”
Then, the mother explained that the former teacher of her daughter, used to call them bad names, like “dumb” or “lazy” or “fat”… I wasn’t at the school that day but, it was horrible to hear that there are people, so-called teachers or so-called professionals, that are capable of treating children like this. It’s really sad… But this whole situation only made me think further into this question, only to realize that this, unfortunately, is common practice among ballet teachers (!!!)
As I talked to the director about this, I became more and more angry! It’s not fair for the children, they only want to have fun and do something they really love. They shouldn’t be listening to these things. Of course we all have lazy students, or badly behaved students but, there aren’t any other kind ways to lead them and their work? I don’t believe we have to insult them!! Teachers, please, think of the consequences of your acts. A children who is called “fat”, my become anorexic; a little girl who is called “dumb” may have confidence issues in the future. Remember, your students just want to learn, have fun and be loved. Not everyone is born to be a ballerina, not everyone is born skinny or with high mental capacities. We are all born different, but we all deserve the same opportunities and treatment.