In my experience, ballet teachers who tell you to be yourself are very rare.  When you get a step wrong, most of the time they will tell you to watch another girl in the class and do it liker her, or that girl will be called up to the front of the studo to proudly demonstrate for the whole class.  Everyone is then told to copy her.  In general, it seems like most dancers learn by copying, rather than knowing when they are doing a step right or not.


When I first started studying with a private coach at 12, she was aghast at how little I knew about ballet steps and positions.  She would quiz me about what croise, ecarte, or en face meant, or what the different arabesques were, and couldn't believe that I didn't really know.  I was just used to copying what the teacher showed, or what the other dancers did.  She called this "monkey see, monkey do" dancing, and proceeded to thoroughly reeducate me. The problem was that I had been looking up to the other girls in my class as the standards of perfection, instead of learning to appreciate my own dancing.  It's so important to know your craft inside and out, so that you can really become an artist, not just a very good mimic.


However, we all have our idols.  Mine is Sara Mearns, from NYCB.  I wish I could dance like her--so full of attack and abandon, yet lyrical and and soft when she needs to be.  Everyone has a dancer they admire and want, or try to emulate, but it's important not to lose confidence in knowing that your own dancing is worth emulating as well.

Latest Posts

Getty Images

7 Eco-Friendly Choices Dancers Can Make to Green Up Their Lifestyles

Ballet dancers are known for their empathy and willingness to improve, so it is no surprise that many are educating themselves about the environment and incorporating sustainable habits into their lives. "I recently read that there are more microplastics in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy. That really hit me," says American Ballet Theatre corps member Scout Forsythe, who has been making an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

Although no one can fix the climate crisis on their own, we can make small, everyday changes to help decrease waste, consumption and emissions. Here are some suggestions for dancers looking to do their part in helping our planet.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Alexandra McMaster

Start Your Dance Day With This Delicious Berry Breakfast Crisp Recipe

When it comes to breakfast, I want it to be easy and convenient but still taste delicious. My Berry Breakfast Crisp is just that. You can bake the crisp on the weekend as meal prep, then enjoy it throughout the week cold or warmed in the microwave. It freezes well, too!

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks