There's a dancer in my class who is phenomenal, but instead of feeling inspired I just feel jealous. It's hurting my dancing, and I hate feeling this way. Help! —Rachel
We've all been there—it's easy to feel jealous of others, especially since ballet is so competitive. But it can chip away at your self-esteem and feed immature behavior. I remember growing very jealous of one of my classmates. She had extensions for days and amazing feet, won full scholarships to all the major summer programs—and was two years younger than me, to boot. When the local paper did a full-page story on her, I shut myself up in my bedroom and burst into tears.
There's an old saying that's always helped me in this situation: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Make an effort to socialize with your classmate to get to know her as a human being, as opposed to a rival. Once you know someone personally, it's easier to gain perspective and grow more supportive of each other. (Besides, I bet your colleague admires qualities in your dancing, too.) When I started offering my classmate rides home after ballet, we gradually opened up to each other. I learned she was not "perfect," but was struggling with a lot of insecurities. My jealousy softened. I stopped seeing her as a threat (and myself as chopped liver) and gained a wonderful new friend.
While it's probably not your gut reaction to want to learn from your competitors, there are advantages to being surrounded by phenomenal dancers. Observe—or simply ask—how she approaches steps you're having trouble with. Take note of her artistic nuances. Rather than feeling defeated in the presence of talented dancers, see this as an opportunity to push yourself to a higher level.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at: firstname.lastname@example.org.