“Stop violence in ballet schools” is a campaign promoting ballet without mental or physical abuse. It is NOT about blaming others. I support it with all of my heart.
People who hurt me were hurt the same way by others, and now it’s time to break this vicious circle.
Too many students have suffered and we don’t have to wait until some next ones commit suicide or even consider it.
The problem is not that a ballet student will hear sometimes “you are nobody and will never achieve anything”, but the fact that during long years of studies, is totally soaked with this statement and finally accept it as a fact. These words drill deep into the core.
There is no excuse for physical abuse. Bruises and scratches will heal, but mental scars will stay forever. It affects every area of life in the long run. I believe it is possible to turn them into strength, but it requires a lot of work and effort.
The saddest is that when you grow up in abuse – this is all you know, your “norm”. You just don’t know any other way. And some people still make excuses for those who use these methods…
This cause is very personal to me, and I will do my best to make a change. Thank you @rebel_ballerina Natalia Wojciechowska the founder of “the art without violence”.
There is a psychological phenomenon that makes a victim of an abuse defend the abuser, in many cases. It may happen in a ballet school and in ballet-related institutions, because it becomes part of everyday behavior and personality. Abuse affect every part of life, both professional and private.
A certain level of stress is good, encouraging and motivates to work. If someone receives a dose of stress, one become more resistant, and mentally & physically stronger. He or she is better prepared for life and work.
However, when the level of stress is too high for a long period of time, it is overwhelming and destructive.
Ballet schools are not three months special agent trainings to prepare them to fight criminals, but schools teaching art, sensitivity and sublimity.
The level of sensitivity is different for each person, because each person is unique and have different personality. It is natural that some feel more intense, some less and there are also individuals completely emotionless.
Children qualified to the ballet school are more sensitive by nature and expected to develop it over the years. It is, for example, sensitivity to music which gives the ability to express it in every move. This is the element that distinguishes a person that is good technically from a real dancer that mesmerises and moves the soul.
In a ballet school it is often said “feel and express your emotions dancing”, which makes sense. However, screaming, stress, unpleasant atmosphere and insults, make a person want to shut down and “turn off” emotions.
This way of stuffing down feelings and emotional wounds is never a good choice, and it impacts the whole being until one decide to deal with it, and learn tools to do so.
The belief of being worthless and lack of self-confidence are often caused by verbal, mental and emotional harm.
Numerous statistics shows that people who have experienced abuse in the past, face the same situations later in life. Lack of self-esteem and the “victim” syndrome are very dangerous, as they are also often associated and contribute to depression and illness.
Ballet schools have great potential to shape healthy, strong, well educated, and outstanding dancers. In many ways they are great, the classes are small and allow for a very individual approach, the technical program goes forward.
However, in this profession, to go out into the world and achieve success you need to have a solid foundation – a sense of value, confidence and love for every part of yourself and your body.
This does not mean that a self confident person will decide that there’s no reason to gain more, quite the opposite, rather will accept the good and bad sides, therefore navigate better and progress. She or he will have more strength and motivation to work because it makes sense. Such people are like beautifully cut diamonds that shine from within.
Tips if you are struggling in ballet:
- look for a person who inspires you, not necessarily a dancer or teacher from 20th century, but someone who you really like and admire, e.g. Kylie Shae, and even people outside the ballet world, e.g. Boho Beautiful.
- find your advantages and think about the way you can use them in dance. Be smart! Do not despair over imperfect shoulder blades, but use what you have beautiful and good. Remember to be patient with yourself, and take baby steps.
- Seek knowledge and expand it. Do you know that for centuries people have been beating the previous records? Something that was once a record is now being done without problems by many other people. We’re getting better yet the human body is similar. That means we are able to make such a progress by being more aware and have deeper knowledge. Check out some You Tube channels, there are plenty of great physiotherapists who understand the body, know many tricks how to stretch more effectively and many more.
- Search for nutrition information and think what’s best for you. “We are what we eat” as Hippocrates said, and if we have an active lifestyle, then we need to have the right “fuel”. I often heard at the ballet school that the cause of “obesity” (I put this word in inverted commas because it has different meaning in ballet) is eating potatoes, but after years I learned that carbohydrates are very important and gives the energy to work, and also for our brains. So potatoes don’t have much to do with this problem problem, just a lack of balance in the diet and possibly too much stress hormone – cortisol caused by excessive and prolonged pressure. Junk food has junk effects.
- Invest in yourself by building your self-worth and confidence. There is a lot of free knowledge on the Internet on this subject, as well as great books and programs. It is your inner power that will lead you to your dreams. Don’t expect anyone to help you on the way, because those people who have a problem with it themselves cannot give it to others and cannot support anyone. Do your job and believe in yourself, regardless of what is happening around you.
Give others what you needed, deep care, sincere interest, patience, support, understanding, positive motivation, warmth. Start with yourself, first give all those wonderful things to yourself, and it will emanate from you naturally.
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