I have been lucky enough to teach hundreds of aspiring ballet students in the last few years and impart to them the secrets of prima ballerinas and world renowned professional dancers.
But... before I tell you how I can help improve your dancing, let me start off by telling you how I got here and why I am writing this.
It all started at my first ballet class.
I had no idea what to expect but like many others, I always wanted to be a ballerina, so I built up the courage and finally made it to a class. When I arrived I quickly realized everyone else had been dancing at least a couple of years already and here I was, the newbie, standing in the middle of the studio not even sure if I was wearing the correct ballet attire.
My mother had never danced and knew nothing about ballet, so I couldn't ask her for any advice. Like many other mothers, she really wanted to help but she just had no idea know what to do for me. You could only imagine the embarrassement and intimidation I felt as a teenager standing all by myself in the dance studio with all these experienced dancers and caring 110% about what everyone else thought of me.
The teacher must have seen how nervous I was. She came over and started asking me some questions about how I found the studio and what I was looking to get out of ballet class. Being a little old to be starting ballet I got the impression she didn't think I was going to be around very long.
She showed me a few of the basics so I could at least keep up with everyone else before they got into the advanced stuff. She then addressed the entire class and we started our warm-up at the barre.
"Let's Start With Pliés" Called Out The Teacher.
That I could handle. Although I had the gracefulness of an elephant I at least could bend my knees. I only just survived the rest of the barre by watching the others in front of me and trying to mimick them as best as I could.
Then came centre practice with temps lié and pirouettes. Apart from not having a clue what these movements were, I could hardly balance on one foot in a pirouette. The teacher was telling us to snatch our foot to retiré, spot our head, use our arms, relevé right up onto demi pointe and hold our centre tight. This was all a little overwhelming because I didn't know what half of the words she used meant and I was still just getting use to the plié.
Then came allegro and she called out things like battement jetté, changement, and pas de bourrée. I was totally overwhelmed with all this french stuff. My dream of becoming a beautiful ballerina was very quickly fading away.
When I got home after class I burst into tears and felt like giving up. It was just too hard. I could never see myself becoming a beautiful ballerina. I now understood why so many girls drop out of dancing.
Somehow I managed to pull myself together
I returned to ballet class the next week and asked the teacher "What can I buy to help me get better?". She looked at me with a saddened expression on her face and said, "There's nothing currently available that will really help you improve. You just need to keep on coming to ballet class."
Unsatisfied with that response I nagged mum to buy me books so I could teach myself how to be the ballerina I always wanted to be. To my dissappointment, my teacher was right. I found a few good tips here and there but nothing really made the difference for me.
After not finding anything that could really help me I just kept going to class and I worked hard at improving. I progressed through the ballet syllabus achieving honours in my initial exams and constantly pushing myself to work harder.
I worked SO hard that I achieved the award "Top In Dance" for both my senior years at school.
I kept dancing for years after school and ended up becoming a teacher myself.
Then it happened...
One day one of my ballet students came up to me and asked "Is there anything I can buy to help me get better at ballet?" Those words hit me like a tonne of bricks.
This student was just like I once was. She desperately wanted to achieve her dream of becoming a ballerina and knew she needed more than her one class of ballet a week to get there. I realized that without any extra help, it took me over 4 years for things to actually start clicking; To be able to recite the french terms and understand what they mean and to be able to perform any ballet movement without having to think about it.
That night I got out a pen and paper and I started writing. I wrote down all the things I had learnt in my struggle to be the best I could be and all the things that I had learnt while teaching. I knew I had to write a guide that was 'to the point' and contained the inside info that students need to really help them grasp the concepts and understand the movements quickly.
I finished my first draft and I called it The 3 Simple Rules of a Prima Ballerina. Nice and catchy.
I started sharing what I had written with fellow friends and associates but I didn't know what to expect. I had no idea what their reaction would be.
What actually happened I could have never expected.
One of them wrote back to me and said, "Anita, I know about 20 people who need this information. I'm sending them your details right now."
Another said, "Just about every aspiring ballet dancer I know desperately needs the advice in "The 3 Simple Rules of a Prima Ballerina". What can I do to help you spread the word?"
I started publishing my guide online and excited responses like these just kept coming in.
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