Have you ever felt compelled to pursue an art, discipline or field, even when it wasn’t necessarily practical to do so?
That’s me with ballet.
I’ve made some headway in learning about ballet as an art form and social catalyzer over the last several years, but I tend to pour every penny I have – or don’t have – into ballet classes, clothes, shoes and more.
Yet, after all this time I’m still looking for new ways to learn and perform ballet locally as an adult, too often coming up empty-handed. I know I’m not alone in this.
Now, after investing much sweat, tears, maybe a little blood, and a lot of money, I’ve found a way that I can take things to the next level.
I started Finding Ballet to bring more awareness to the need for adult ballet programs and to showcase the ones that currently exist.
Here’s the story behind my idea.
2016: The drive to “do more” with ballet
I returned to ballet in 2011 and became more serious with it between 2012 and 2014.
Around 2016, I began considering the idea of a blog that would allow me to delve deeper into the meaning of ballet in my life and to “do more” with ballet overall, but I wasn’t sure what the blog would be like.
What I did know, very well, was my own frustration stemming from the lack of pointe classes and performing opportunities for adults.
A blog seemed like a good fit because I‘m a freelance writer. I thought it could be a way for me to positively channel my energy surrounding ballet, but I felt strongly that it had to be about more than just me in order to be truly relevant.
So I kept pondering.
2018: Turning points that helped me develop my idea
With a new year came new motivation to “do more” with ballet, so in January 2018, I set up an Instagram account and it honestly changed my life.
I “discovered” an entire world of adults who shared their ballet stories and progress in pictures and videos. I began to do the same. Sure, I had previously read blogs and forums about adult ballet, but none of them indicated just how big adult ballet really was.
On IG, I was able to see so many dedicated adult ballet dancers in one place. I saw what they were working on, what they were struggling with, what they enjoy about ballet, where they were from – and in many ways, I was no longer alone.
At that point, the only other adult ballet dancers I knew went to the same studio I did. Although a few worked – and still work – to prioritize ballet in their lives on a grander scale, most would typically attend one ballet class per week. I just wasn’t able to see the extent to which adult ballet was a thing across the world.
Simultaneously, there were a few new adult ballet classes developing locally that I wasn’t yet aware of. Since I’ve tried those, I’ve been able to personally meet more serious adult ballet dancers in my immediate area.
Two months after getting on IG, I stumbled on a post that led to another major turning point: someone – I don’t remember who – shared a flyer about an adult ballet intensive in NYC; one that included a performance.
This was big news to me.
It turned out that the intensive was organized by master ballet and pointe technique teacher Kat Wildish, who performed with major companies such as New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. I had taken Kat’s classes at Broadway Dance Center when I was 16, and for many years, that period of time stood out in my mind as a formative youth experience.
Once I found out that she offered this intensive alongside master teacher and choreographer Matteo Corbetta, I knew I had to be there. One year later in March 2019, after quite a bit of planning and budgeting, I finally arrived.
Sometime before my trip, though, in the summer of 2018, I was talking to my husband about the potential blog and he mentioned the significance of me “finding ballet.”
That was it! With the name, I began to connect the dots and more clearly see the possibilities.
Not only had I found ballet by returning to it as an adult, but I could literally go out and find adult ballet programs in a way that I had not been able to do locally – all the while documenting it to help other adult ballet dancers find new experiences for themselves.
Today: Experience that will help me going forward
You might ask yourself, “Isn’t it a little crazy to do a blog like this?” Yes. Yes, it is.
But I’m dedicated to the idea.
One alternative was for me to focus on myself as a dancer and document my own progress. Though there’s merit in that idea, I personally felt that it would be more meaningful if I could advance adult ballet by focusing on programs that are available to everyone – the kinds of experiences so many adult ballet dancers are looking for.
In some cases, I’ll travel to programs, but I’ll also write about them remotely.
As a freelance reporter for a local newspaper, I’ve learned to be able to write about a wide variety of people, places and events from home, so I know I can do the same with Finding Ballet.
That being said, I’m open to interviewing dancers who have participated in programs they’d like others to know about, and program directors who want to share their programs with a broader audience.
I’ll also share posts like this one explaining why I’m interested in certain topics, classes, intensives or performing opportunities.
The overall message is to show what IS available, not what isn’t available; what we CAN do, not what we can’t do; and how much potential there is to expand on adult ballet programming going forward.
Contact me on Instagram @jamie.dreams or @findingballet, or via email a firstname.lastname@example.org.