Forum: Ballet / Ballet - Beginners

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I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 67)
By tutulessmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:10 PM
Edited by TomatoWench (88282) on 2005-07-27 13:07:42
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2006-02-11 19:01:29 someone asked me eons ago to make this a sticky, and I forgot. So, I'll do it now!
Made unsticky by pharmadancer (87219) on 2007-07-24 11:12:49
Edited by pharmadancer (87219) on 2007-07-24 11:13:21

In this part of the forum especially threads about late starters that made it into companies pop up like weed in our backyard.

Listen people, maybe 1 out of 100 000 late starters will actually make it into a company.
Heck, only 1 out of 1 000 people who start ballet as a child make it into companies.

If you are a late starter and want to dance ballet recreationally, fantastic. Go for it! I wish you the best of luck and hope you will enjoy yourself.

But please, it is simply highly unlikely that you will make it as a prima ballerina anywhere when you are basically lacking ten years of training and have long surpassed the stage where your body could be modified to adapt to the demands of classical ballet.

I don't know how many times I have read the comment "If you follow your heart, anything is possible".
Anything is possible within the reasonable.
When I was a kid, I wanted to become the Princess of Sweden. It was my heart's desire and I followed my heart by desperately trying to get some Swedish prince to hook up with my 10-year old self. Still I'm no princess now... Hmmm.

Many people don't have the potential to become Princesses and many people don't have the potential to become ballerinas.
Let's face it, if you are naturally a bit chubby, have not the best of turnout and can't do the splits to save your life, it is highly unlikely that you will ever make it as a professional ballerina.
Recreational ballet, yes. No problem, but actually get paid for dancing? Nuh-uh.

Now I can already see you getting ready to tell me "B-b-b-but, Misty Copeland!"
First of all, when I hear her name one more time in one of these You Can Do Anything Your Heart Desires replies, I am going to scream.
Misty Copeland lived with her instructors. She got worldclass ballet training 7 days a week, several hours a day. Plus she was physically perfectly suitable for ballet from the start. And she has an amazing amount of talent.
Still Misty is only in the corps de ballet. Hmmm.

There are many graduates of world class ballet schools (Royal ballet School, School of American Ballet, you name it) who already have difficulty finding a job.
Ballet is a very tough working field. Jobs are rare and when there is another, just as talented girl in the room who has had 10 more years of training than you then chances are high that they will take her over you.

Ballet isn't getting any easier. technique developes and gets more difficult all the time. Catching up with girls your age is not getting any easier, but harder all the time.
You might or might not notice that most late starter stories happened years ago, mostly around the 1970s. Ballet dancers were much rarer back then, there was more need one.
Nowadays, talented aspiring ballerinas with perfect technique are all over the place.

You think I am crashing dreams? Well, I probably am, but that is what auditions do as well. Crash people's dreams.

This Follow Your Heart mentality will not help you at all when you are standing infront of the director of some company.
He or she won't care the least about how much you love ballet and how you always wanted to be a primaballerina. What matters is how good your turnout is, how high your developpé, how many fouettes you turn and how effortless your bourrées en pointe look.

I simply cannot see the point in making people believe that their obscure goals are more possible than anything in the world when actually chances are close to none that they will ever get near fulfilling their dreams.

Girls who have started at age 3 and are in the best professional schools get told everyday that they are actually not suited for ballet. Why should it be any different with people whose technique is simply worse than theirs?

If you really want to dance professionally, then maybe look into modern. Or set your goals on some mediocre local ballet company. But don't expect to get in only because your heart is set on it.

Oh, and same goes for all these "Am I too fat to be a ballerina" posts.
If you dance recreationally, you can weigh as much as a baby elephant, nobody will care. Just maybe lay off the pointe shoes unless you want to ruin your knees.
But professional ballet is about being skinny. Sure, you have to have muscles at the same time, but flabby thighs simply look awful in a tutu. Period.

Much Love,

PS: Oh, and before you even breathe the name Nureyev. He was a guy. It is easier for guys to make up. They don't necessarily need 180° turnout for example. And guys are simply more sought after. Easy as that.

309 Replies to I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By MuffinHeadmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:20 PM
Huzzah! *raises wine glass to toast*

Good post. Karma. Hopefully these posts will stop now. Or at least become more realistic.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:25 PM
* I agree with tomato 100 %. I bet "some" poeple will flame you for this.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By shootingstar
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:26 PM
I couldn't have said it better myself. Sure, it's nice to think that one day you could be a principal ballerina for ABT after only four years of training, but...It's not realistic.

Of course you can strive to be the best dancer you can be, and have fun with it. But realize that the chances of being in a professional company as a late-starter are extremely slim.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By DejaDerangemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:31 PM
*has wenchie's babies* I love you!!!!!!!

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By tutufun
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:49 PM
Edited by tutufun (73508) on 2005-07-27 13:46:40
BRAVO, Tomato! I agree with you 100%.

Starting ballet at ANY age is possible, fun and good exercise. Go for it! Don't ask OUR permission or opinion.

However, starting ballet too late, not training at a pre-professional school and not having the typical ballet body, assures that you will be little more than a RECREATIONAL DANCER, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I have to wonder if those of you that ASK, and those of you that GIVE the "follow your heart" drivel, actually even subscribe to dance publications and/or read non-fiction books on the topic?

For if you did, you would be EXPOSED to the highly competitive world of ballet, the training that pre-pro students receive and the plethora of gorgeous, lithe, technically proficient dance students out there that never make it to a corps of a major company, let alone become a soloist or prima ballerina.

Giving false-hope to someone without a snowballs chance in hades of making their "dream," makes you both fools.

Also, glad to know that I'm not the only one who wants to scream at the Misty Copeland analogy. OBVIOUSLY, those using Misty as an example that the dream is possible, know little more of her story then her age at the time of her first lesson and the company she is dancing for currently. For if you KNEW the full story, you wouldn't cite her as "inspiration," for she is a MAJOR exception to the status quo.

Phew, I feel better, TEMPORARILY, until the end of the week when the question, complete with the "follow your heart" responses appears YET again.

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By tutulessmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:56 PM
To be honest, I find anyone who actually believes that loving it is enough to make you become a professional ballerina to be highly offending and disrespecting all true professionals out theres.
They did not get into ABT by merely setting their heart on it.
Implying that all you need for professional ballet is a loving heart is very ignorant for all the blood and pain (yes, literally!) it takes to become a professional.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 3)
By fouettegirl
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:56 PM
I agree with you, Tomato. But one of the reasons why (lately) I've been going with the "follow your heart" thing is because I usually say the opposite. I'm naturally a critical person. So imagine my surprise when "follow your heart" was my response to some of the posts I read yesterday.

The reason why I brought up Misty Copeland is because we danced at the same studio. People often say "well, Misty started when she was 13 and got into ABT, etc". They have to keep in mind that she got plenty of private lessons and coaching for free and that her teachers were completely focused on developing her talent and ability. Not to mention the natural ability that was already there. And even if there is an exact same situation, the outcome is unlikely to be the same.

But seriously, if someone wants to be a dancer, then they should go for it. The probability of them "making it"? Slim. But if that's what they really want to do, then they should just try. Who are we to say "oh, no, you're way over the hill"?
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By katsepmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:57 PM
that's so right. Thank you. Karma.
I personally think that ballet is much more fun if you aren't doing it to become professional. Pro dancers have to give up their personal lives too ofen and have to worry about their weight in a ridiculous way (I mean, one pound isn't that important like company directors think) and so on, and so on
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By PurkleStarsmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 01:58 PM
Woohoo! You've hit it right on the head.

I think that sometimes people are too nice. Nice is good, but you dont have to be overly nice and lull people into a false sense of security. It'll only hurt more in the long run when they fail.

I've been dancing for 16years and I am under no illusions that I'll ever get anywhere near professional.

I still think I am going to be a princess though.......I'm just looking for the royalty on my family tree or my boyfriends then haha the world will be mine! :D

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By tutufun
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 02:01 PM
The examples of Kristi Boone and Melissa Hayden, plus others, are given in Starzeth's sticky. Do I smell karma-farming?

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 5)
By TuTuLismember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 02:02 PM
I do agree with you... at some point.

I believe that those people hoping to go pro have the talent and the right body type and very intensive dance schedules other wise they are being very very unrealistic...i am sure they would have noticed that there are just NO chances in regular ballet class. Also I am sure they know how slim the chances are..

Sometimes we need some encouragement and that was all it was meant for. Kristi Boone is not from the 70's either..

A ballerina being 3 year old doesn't know how her body type will be and if they have the talent. A lot of those late starters may be slimmer then a lot ballerinas with more training.

Having a private teacher you can learn tecniques faster then in class...

If nobody would persue their heart and dream then the world would have missed out on a lot of things.

I have a friend who has never danced ballet a day in his life (i know it's a guy....but there are many other ballet or dance examples) with 24...1 year he trained like a crazy animal at the south african ballet...after one year he got accepted and after 2 years dancing with them he got promoted. he has been dancing since 3 years with them.

nobody said it would be easy..the chances are slim. but if nobody tries then this world wouldn't have achieved a lot of great things.

I or any late starter never meant to just step up and say we have more chances then any of you not late starters 'cause we don't!
but sometimes the door is open ..being at the right time at the right place.

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By hkLolamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 02:15 PM
I'm sick of Misty Copeland too. And I'm a late starter, ugh, I mentioned her maybe one time. And tomato, yeah, you brought her up in IM to me, I don't wish to hear it that you don't like her.

I'm all for follow your heart or whatever, like fouettegirl cause I usually am not. As you can tell in the modeling thread. I usually am the most honest person alive and I usually take it to PM so not to embaress someone in public if there is something I really wish to say that might be something not for the public to see, you should do the same. I can't picture myself giving karma for this because it's simple, you don't like it, just ignore it!

I do realize a lot of people come here saying "oh I wanna be a prima ballerina" and really have no chances... either too fat, too tall, too short, older than 20, no turnout, no flexibility, no natural talent, no musicality, no artistic ability whatsoever and so on... but before saying no you really have to get to know someone before deciding for yourself, had I listened to what I was told her 2 months ago I wouldn't be going in advanced classes already, and I wouldn't have found out from multiple teachers that I do have the ability to make it somewhere because I do have a lot of "born with" traits that benefit me in ballet, since my last pictures I have gotten my hips squared, foot pointed, and my arabesque to almost 90 degrees (I'll get new ones this weekend) but I have always been able to get flexible pretty fast if I want to, and also lose weight at the drop of a hat, which also helps. Now maybe I'm an exception, but maybe some people are, you just don't know. I don't jump to conclusions about people here, I simply try to understand who they are, what they have done, and what they have to work with before giving them the bad news.

And yeah, men I don't bother to put in the same league as women, men don't have to be perfect because men are so scarce in the ballet world.

These girls simply should be asking their teachers, "do I have a chance to go pro, attend U of Utah, yadda yadda yadda?" and they can give an honest answer if they are professional teachers. I have asked 3 and all answers were positive. One trained at RAD, the other teaches at a college and trained in NYC, and the other is another RAD who has past students dancing professionally. It's the easiest way to go because I'm sick and tired of some people saying no and others saying yes without a clue of who this person is. ugh!
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By RaphaelaPremium member
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 02:31 PM
Just a thought on the "follow your heart drivel": recreational dancers get discouraged too. Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated when you KNOW you should have turnout and you KNOW you should be slim and flexible, but you simply AREN'T. That's why I think most of those posts are there to lift our spirits, to remind us recreational dancers that as long as our heart is in it and we enjoy dancing, it's fine.
If you take the "follow your heart" posts for what they are - encouragement and motivation - I think they're okay. That's not to say that there've been way too many of those recently, but that's a different story. And if you make long-term plans for your life based on one of those posts instead of the facts then there's something wrong with your decision making process anyway.

Just my two cents.

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By fairy_dustmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 02:36 PM
I agree, there is little to no chance of being a pro for most people, even the ones who are talented, properly trained, and/or started young. But not getting into a company doesn't mean you can only dance recreationally. In the performing arts in general, it's best to be a triple threat (singing, dancing, acting) because it means you're versatile as a performer. You can still get paid to perform (which may include some dancing) even if you're not a prima ballerina in a company. Company directors are all pretty much looking for the same thing, but play/movie/tv directors all look for different things, which means that you can still perform for a living even if you're not a company star.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By hkLolamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 02:40 PM
Fairy_dust, That is why I continue to do music and art, not as much as I used to. I probably should have stuck with music since I've been in music since most of you started ballet but I plan to double major in instrumental music and ballet at U of Utah. That way I could play in the orchestra doing ballets or singing, another thing I do (I'm an artistic person all around). It is a good idea highly to have a back up career, but that is something anyone in the entertainment field should be aware of.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By Ammie
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 03:01 PM
I agree with what fairy_dust said, when auditioning [even if it's not for a dancing part] even having that you attend ballet classes could help you get noticed.
I'm a late starter and I understand that there's a very small chance that I'll be able to make it professionally, but I am following my heart, well I suppose, more so putting all my heart into it.
I almost feel sorry for the girls that post saying that at my age [16] they want to make it as a professional and that's <i>all</i> they want to do. I attend art college and also have dreams of making it as a fashion designer so I'm set up for not making it as a professional dancer [that's not to say I'm not trying though].
However, I wouldn't discourage anyone with those dreams just wish them the best of luck and see how things turn out for them.

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By tutufun
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 03:01 PM
Citing late starting male dancers is like comparing apples to oranges. It's not germaine to the topic of professional ballerinas. Men do not need pointe training, therefore, obviously they can start later.

A triple threat and a professional ballerina are not comparable either. Ballerinas need not know how to sing or recite lines, although they must be proficient at mime.

A dancer for industrial films, corporate events (like the auto shows), music videos, Las Vegas type revues, Broadway, the Rockettes, etc. will benefit in most cases from ballet training, HOWEVER they do not require the same intensity of training that a professional ballerina with a company would.

Late starters can certainly attain a level of proficiency suitable for the afore mentioned profession dance jobs, but since this is the BALLET FORUM, let's not add ALL types of dance into the mix.

We're talking about the ability to earn ones living as a professional ballerina. Serious training at an academy level begins at age 8. One needn't start at age 3. The QUALITY of instruction is crucial as well, as well as the frequency of classes. You cannot compare training from your local competition studio, with that of a pre-professional level school, IF you wish to become a professional performing ballerina.

Also, the term "go pro," is used without an explanation of what EXACTLY is meant by the user. What is your "professional" goal? Teaching at a local studio requires less training then that of even a professional dancer with a small regional company.

Late starters can have a great time performing at the college level, or with a community ballet company, which could be a suitable and attainable goal.

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 2)
By Valdazarmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 03:09 PM
It also makes for a nicer life and a better-feeling self image to just go throug life pretending all that elite stuff doesn't even exist. You know... what if there was no ABT or NYCB or even the hoity-toity bad-attitude pre-pro regional wannabee companies? That's more like a realistically nice life for us artistic types.

I think initiative and creativity gets more done for ya than "following your heart". If that doesn't work, try manipulation or blackmail.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By tutufun
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 03:18 PM
Hum...just let me have my "dream" and don't bore me with the reality of my situation. Let me waste my time "playing ballerina" in my dream world, instead of preparing for something I may actually suceed at quite nicely. "To dream the impossible dream...." Fairy tales are make-believe, your chances of being struck by lightening are better then your chances at winning the big lottery jack-pot, and your odds for a successful future are greater if you apply yourself to something that you can do well, not something you "wish, hope and dream for."

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality
By stripedballerinamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 03:46 PM
I agree with both points of view.
First there is the "if you follow your heart" thing going on. Following your heart won't make you primaballerina, dreaming about going pro is not enough. You have to work very hard, every day, there's no room for laziness in the ballet world and, give up on your personal life if that is keeping you too much time. This goes for everyone who wants to go pro not only for late starters.
On the other hand, I think there's nothing wrong about looking for inspiration, it doesn't mean that because they made it we can make it by just staring at them. But they help you go on.
Anyways we lose nothing by trying.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 4)
By Starzethmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 04:04 PM
I'm a bit torn on my opinion of the whole "late-starter dreaming of a professional career" thing. I agree that if you start later than say 11 or maybe 12, then you might as well give up on your dream of being a principal among the likes of Julie Kent or Paloma Herrera or even Jane Doe of Small Unknown Ballet Company. Its not likely. Its not probable. And its not something to put your ENTIRE life into.

However, I do believe that if you ARE a late-starter seeking a professional career, you better take a damn good look at yourself. You have to KNOW that you look EXACTLY like the bodies in these professional companies. A little flabby? Low arched feet? Imperfect turn-out? Sorry, better raise those grades so you can get into a good college, graduate, and work in a cubicle. But if you DO have the perfect body, excellent training, and everything going for you, why not give it a try? It won't hurt to try. It doesn't hurt anyone at all to try, actually. If you have problems taking rejection though, this definitely isn't the business for you. But if you're at the point in life that you're deciding to seek a professional career, you should already know all this.

I'm rambling. I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer for a while. I'd still LOVE to do that but I know its not in the cards for me. That doesn't mean I'm shutting out all other options though. Teacher, studio owner, modern dancer, etc. There's SO much more out there to consider. Its just a matter of late-starters being too stubborn to see that they're not good enough. Its a harsh reality, but its the ballet world.

Many girls want to dance, but hell, many girls want to be with Brad Pitt too. Both are unlikely for all but a VERY select few.

re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 2)
By Mendelmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 04:06 PM
Anyways we lose nothing by trying

Well, you could lose quite a bit. Here are a few I can think of off-hand:

1)Money. Lots of it. Consider not only the money you spend on ballet, but also the money you might have earned during the time you tried to go pro if you had instead worked at something you're truly skilled at. Most people will be bitter about this if their ballet dreams don't come true.

2)Time. Ballet is not the ONLY field that you have to have experience in at a young age, although the age requirement is more rigorous. Most skilled job fields are getting pretty competitive now and want people coming in with experience at the high-school as well as college level, although it is definitely easier to go into most other fields at an older age than it is to do ballet. But if you're in your mid-late 20s and decide to go into, say, a government-related field, you'll be competing with students who've done all kinds of internships in state offices etc. while in high school and college.

3) Being with friends and family, especially if you go away to train full-time at a prestigious school.

Pursuing your dreams is never without cost.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By Valdazarmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 04:13 PM
Edited by jdavidb (55163) on 2005-07-27 16:10:23
and there's ballroom, latin and swing too!

It's the all-or-nothing mentality that causes people to maneuver themselves into these kinds of traps. All-or-nothing is closely similar to closed-mindedness. People see ballet, and they get sucked in with tunnel vision. They ignore every possibility of other dance styles, and that's where I really think the ballet-minded late starters screw themselves over. They do not allow themselves to like anything until they obtain "all" in ballet, and it's real miserable to live like that.
re: I'm sick of this Follow Your Heart mentality (karma: 1)
By stripedballerinamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jul 27, 2005 04:29 PM
I now that my biggest dream is to go pro on ballet but I do have a plan B, there's so much I can do that is related to ballet and is more reachable. I just want to dance.
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