Are ballet dancers really independent? If I may open up about this subject, me, a freelance ballet dancer, I can agree with much of what the Dance critics have to say about it. No, ballet dancers are not entirely independent: we must take care of every single thing we say, dance, eat, think, do, don't do. We cannot show our true selves not even on stage.
This is a feeling that has been damaging my physical and mental health for years. But I am lucky in one thing (or not): I am a freelance dancer.
I have tried to adapt myself to the trendy contemporary field. But rapidly realized that my main language is ballet. I love the diversity of dance, and can gladly work with choreographers (of course, if I am good enough for them), but to me, personally, I am deeply connected to ballet. It is the language I speak. The only problem is that I was not able to speak my mind with it. I am only allowed to speak the choreographer's mind, or a whole institution's prestigious mind.
I was born in Bolivia, a country with an extremely rich dance and music culture, my native roots have provided me experience that only I can express.
I used to believe that I was just a dancer, I wanted to be in a corps de ballet, swan #26, there in the back row. I am still up for doing corps de ballet work , because I like to be part of things that are bigger than myself and I still love Classical Repertoire (probably I will never stop appreciating it).
But this doesn't take away the fact that I still have stories to tell, and experience from which I want to create. And if ballet is the language that I was educated into, an art form, I might as well start writting and polishing my grammar, right?
After all, Giselle was a peasant, and ballet can be for everybody.
Introduction to the laboratory
As you can see on this website I have already started to explore my choreographic skills, by telling my own stories. I cannot deny that my life experience has given me other tools that I would like to explore and exploit more for my next creations: graphic design, music, ballet history, bolivian culture and cinematography.
In order to do this, I need to reinforce my ballet training in two main root fields:
Injury prevention: Being a freelance ballet dancer means that I possess no privilege in the dance medicine area, but there are solutions to this. And I have been studying Eric Conrad's Placement Method for a year and a half already since before the pandemic. And the difference in my body has brought me a lot of inner and outer peace. I don't burnout with a 10 hour workout per day, my training is very intense, but shorter and smarter. I also don't burnout with toxic positivity. Which is great for my mental health. Now I have time to read, to think, to write, to grow intelectually in order to create. The Placement Method is a healthy approach of turnout, and to study it has changed my mindset about ballet. I now have less tendencies to have eating disorders, I am less anxious, my technique has improved, my turnout has improved, and even my physique has changed. But this experience I will explain more with photos and videos in detail further in this Blog.
Enrichment of ballet vocabulary: when I see videos of Soviet Ballet, or some other old ballet videos, I see an incredible wide range of expression. I am 100% sure that some vocabulary of the ballet language is in danger of extintion. I did not realize this by myself though, I am obsessed with ballet and its history. And by discussing with teachers, with other ballet dancers, I have discovered many interesting things. In these last "discoveries", or better said, "REdiscovery", I came up with Julie Cronshaw's "Ballet Secret Code", in which she shows a glimpse of the lost vocabulary of Enrico Cecchetti. Watching his approach of the port de bras, the combination of steps, the musicality, the emotional and communicative meaning behind every movement, has surprised me so much. And saddly I realized that my ballet vocabulary is not as wide as I wish it was. Some of the steps of Enrico Cecchetti's method I have never done in my life, and I wish I did, because not only it would make me a better dancer, but also it would expand my ballet grammar so I can keep creating and choreographing.
With the support of DIS-TANZ-SOLO, I will be able to get deeper into this research in order to expand my creative tools and being more independent as a ballet dancer/choreographer. I will be posting here on my blog videos and articles that I will write about my experience of the assimilation of these two methods, but I will also be sharing my view on the extra tools that pushed me to create: bolivian indigenous culture, graphic design, cinematography and mostly my experience as a citizen, as an immigrant, as a human being in a globalized world.
Before I start with this research, I would like to clear one last thing: each person's path is different. For a long time I have been trying to make my path similar to the average ballet path. But the truth is I was not even born with the "right body type" to do ballet. And it is a life coincidence I made it into the professional European Ballet world.
I used to envy normal ballet dancers so much, having the privilege of studying in a prestigious ballet school, having more oportunities, winning gold medals, auditioning with very few financial limits. Having naturally flexible beautiful bodies.
But I got to experience the real world as it is, not being part of this "elite". I had a normal childhood, met normal people from whom I learned a lot. I was never fully raised into this ballet bubble despite the fact that Ballet is my number one love.
So for me it is more important to stay true to myself, and to keep walking my own road. To keep my individuality intact regardless of my contracts or my work life as a ballerina.
I see myself as if I was in a jungle, where there are no roads, so I have to keep moving forward by cutting the leaves to make my own path. And from time to time I must go back, and look back, to see if it was right to cut those leafs and not other ones...
This is how I shape my career. Intuition guides, logic provides.
But I never forget that the logic part is extremely important too, so don't be susprised if at some point I speak about subjects like discrimination, decolonization, indigenous feminism, human rights, politics, history, literature, other fields of the Arts and many other subjects that I need to address at some point of my creative laboratory.
Ballet was never superficial. We made it superficial by changing our standards, by creating more and more aesthetic rules, instead of focusing on mental and physical strength. I am sure that Ballet is a tool of liberation specially for little kids that live in developping countries, but to me this liberation has been often damaged by the elitism from the industry and the mentality of the professional world. I still see ballet dancers crying in the open professional class, this is a "normal" thing. And it should not be. If ballet is art, then we must make it a liberation tool, we must not keep it as a prison for our minds and philosophical views on the world and humanity.
Because only by being grounded we can jump higher. (if you study Placement Method you know this is scientifically right, hehe.)
Welcome to the Classical Laboratory of Creation!
Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverbands Tanz Deutschlands.