Photo by Jeff Drongowski
“Courage is grace under pressure” ~ Ernest Hemingway.
To have courage means you have the strength to leap forward toward your goals, Courage fortifies you to persevere over self-doubt and to withstand your fears.
It means believing in YOU. It means embracing YOU. Yes, YOU, everything that is YOU.
I’ve loved ballet since I was 4 years old. Ballet is my passion. I truly need to do ballet. Ballet is me. My love of dancing paved the way to my love of teaching. For years, I wanted to start my own ballet company and call it Ballet Kalamazoo. But I was afraid. My self-doubt held me back from my dream.
The slippery slope of self-doubt
I’m not good enough
I don’t know what I am doing
What if no one wants to learn from me?
I don’t deserve to be a teacher or a ballerina
WHAT IF I FAIL?
I could think of every “what if” scenario telling me why I shouldn’t start my own ballet company, but my life’s journey reached a fork in the road. My daughter was a year old. It would be a big enough job to stay at home with her.
I could be happy.
But what if I did start Ballet Kalamazoo? What if I believed in myself and chased head-long after my dream?
To take the leap towards success, creativity and self-fulfillment, I needed to face my own fears and self-doubt. I spoke to one of my mentors about my fears. I told her about Kalamazoo and how it is such an amazing arts community. There are many places to take dance. Do we really need another studio? Her answer was YES. Each teacher is unique. That’s what makes it special. I needed to embrace who I am, what I can bring to ballet because of my own experiences and gifts.
Encouragement, self-reflection and my own inner drive empowered me to start Ballet Kalamazoo. Starting a business wasn’t easy. This path I chose was a great risk and responsibility, and, once begun, there was no turning back. I needed courage to push forward to become the teacher my dancers deserved. I learned quickly that it wasn’t just me alone with a dream. Ballet Kalamazoo was built by dancers with their own dreams and trepidations. A critical part of my vision for Ballet Kalamazoo was the essential need to inspire and nurture my dancers to pursue their goals bravely.
Photo by Jeff Drongowski
I’ve learned that it is okay to feel afraid or unsure when under pressure to succeed. These are natural human responses to challenges. Your belief in yourself has to be greater than your fears to achieve your goals. In the past, I let my fears hold me back. I let them get in the way of my dreams. I lost my way but there was this voice inside of me that kept pushing me to find my way again and, thank goodness, it kept getting louder.
I came across this quote last year:
I’ve learned that when I lead from my heart that that is when things work. It is real, and it is me. Instead of crumbling under the pressure last year, I felt excited and ready to take on the challenge. I loved problem-solving, I loved thinking of new ways for us to grow; I loved creating a special place to learn ballet. I know Ballet Kalamazoo is something special. It is still young, but I am so excited thinking about what it is becoming.
This year, I saw new dancers arrive at a new studio and a new class for them. This could be so scary. I saw dancers have the courage to overcome their fears right before my eyes. Even at age 3, the dancers made the choice to try the class even though they were scared -even though it was easier to go home with their parents. I saw how everyone responded to their fears and found their courage in different ways. For some, it was a quick weighing of the situation and making the decision to jump in. For others, they needed to observe and take their time. The most inspiring aspect was that they all got there. They had the courage to overcome their fears and tried something new.
My fledgling company just completed our first extremely successful season. Ballet Kalamazoo became what I had hoped it would be. My dream was surpassed by reality. I was overwhelmed by the commitment, generosity, and support of Ballet Kalamazoo’s amazing little dancers and their families.
Take a peak at our original ballet production of "Snow White" here:
I now have a responsibility to my students and their families, and I have a responsibility to myself. I need to be the role model that I want my students to emulate. I don’t want their fears to stop them from becoming what they want to be. I want them to know how special they are. That being themselves is what makes them beautiful. I want my dancers to see challenges as a part of the process and that struggles do not prove there is a flaw in who they are. That it is not always going to be easy, but it will be worth it. I want them to know they have a whole studio of dancers and families that are rooting for them and are on their team. I want them to feel strong, empowered, confident and proud of who they are.
Where am I today? I know I don’t know everything. But I can learn. I know I am not as experienced as someone who has been teaching for 20 years. But I will be. I know not everyone will want to learn from me. But the right people will. I know I will have challenges, but I will get back up. I will keep following my heart. I will keep being me. I will have courage.
We have our Moana themed Tropical Ballet Open House on August 16th from 6-8pm. We will also be celebrating Ballet Kalamazoo’s first birthday! Join us for tropical tutus, Leis, Moana and ballet inspired arts and crafts and, of course, a dance party!
This is a great way to see our studio, meet us and sign up for fall classes. Stop by or stay the whole time!
Find the event on Facebook here to let us know you are stopping by! webcal://www.facebook.com/ical/u.php?uid=542884335&key=AQBaGgC3rA7pX7Cl
I look forward to seeing you soon!