Ballet state of mind

I’m starting a new type of therapy, which is scary and exciting and hopeful.

I’m just at the stage of having initial assessment appointments. Which can be hugely stressful – I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone through this stage with all different types of talking therapies. And, although it was hard, and exhausting, I feel like it it went pretty well this time.

One thing which I’m turning over in my mind is how my therapist was interested in my ballet classes. Therapists want to know that you have interests and that you are getting exercise, and ballet has been a really positive thing for me in this regard – not just in my general everyday life, but as a thing I can bring to therapy and say Look – I am doing this positive thing.

But this therapist said to me – I am interested in your doing ballet. Because it seems to be a very exacting discipline, and a very self-critical one.

Now, I have thought a lot about the psychological aspects of dancing, and I hope to think a bit more about them on this blog, but this was something that had never occurred to me. Sure ballet is a discipline, it just is, but I had never thought about the critical aspect of it. I don’t necessarily see this as a negative quality – but even looking in the mirror and self-correcting needs a critical eye doesn’t it? If we were not able to be critical of ourselves as we dance we would not be capable of much improvement, I feel. In a sense I mean critical here in a way similar to literary criticism, noticing and analysing and improving. But there is a sense in which criticism is scary, hard to accept, maybe hurtful and destructive at times. Most of us must have noticed the difference between teachers giving constructive criticism and the kind that feels destructive, for instance.

I wonder how this resonates in my life. I am an intensely self-critical person, to the point of being destructive. Maybe this is a reason for being drawn to ballet? But, more importantly, maybe ballet can help me model more positive ways of being self-critical?

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