In 2016, I was assigned to write an article for Pointe magazine about confidence. Not a small topic. But of course, since the intended audience was the younger end of the professional and pre-professional ballet dancer demographic, we narrowed the focus to the tricky business of defining, and then finding and maintaining, a healthy sense of self-confidence. Self-assurance. Self-worth. Perspective.
I remember feeling daunted but excited by this assignment. It's such a wide topic with many difficult aspects to it, including the underlying common assumption that ballet messes with one's head, making a dancer either full of self-loathing (constant criticism, comparison to others, seeking daily for an unreachable ideal), or tormented by inner conflict (am I good enough? Do they only like me because I have good feet? Why do I work so hard but that other girl gets the part? I must be terrible!). My own insecurities paralleled those of the dancers i'd be writing about. Could I really do this? Could I balance a positive, encouraging and inspirational tone with the heaviness of the issue?
In this instance, having the word count limit and firm parameters of Pointe's format was a blessing. I knew I couldn't get too far into the weeds and would mostly get sources who'd talk about finding ways to feel good about oneself separate from what happens in ballet class, remembering that everyone has their own flaws and struggles, that no one's perfect, that if you're frustrated today, well, tomorrow's a chance to start anew.
I did get some great sources, including a dancer with Miami City Ballet named Emily Bromberg. What she told me about the games her mind played on her as a student and young pro-- despite the fact that she was immensely gifted and had immediate, early success, she was wracked with self-doubt-- were startling to me, yet also instantly relatable.
Pointe recently reposted the article on Twitter, and rereading it six years later, I felt really good about how helpful it could still be to people today. And yes, I do believe it's not just for dancers. With the right approach, guidance, surroundings and comrades (friends, peers, family), what a dancer figures out, whether they realize it or not, really does carry them through whatever else life throws their way.
Enjoy. As always, I welcome and look forward to your comments.
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