As a child, I was obsessed with dancing, and becoming a ballet dancer was my most desired dream for as long as I can remember. Performing for my very first audience - my parents, I was simply following my imagination; however, I was already quite confident of my uniqueness as an artist.

As we all know, professional ballet education mostly starts at a quite early age. When I turned four years old, I visited a ballet studio for the first time. When I stepped upon the long way of achieving my dream, a few important rules came up immediately. First of all – I must listen and follow the advice of my ballet master thoughtfully, and secondly – I must always check on my reflection in the mirror and correct myself. The education of future professional ballet dancers inevitably includes daily painstaking work, and our reflection helps us learn by ourselves and understand the significance of the aesthetics in classical ballet directly.

Ballet Star
Jean Arp, Star

Nevertheless, in the process of nurturing our bodies day-to-day, we may start losing our self-confidence as unique artists, due to endless polishing of our bodies, which serve as our primary instruments. Even as a kid, I was – more or less – enjoying hard work in the ballet studio. At the same time, though, I would constantly have to listen to people pointing out my mistakes during ballet classes, and eventually it made me feel like my steps were wrong the majority of the time. I guess that my ballet master was reluctant about praising her students, since she wanted to make them work even harder, and that is exactly what I was desperately trying to do. The ballet classes were more than just training to me; they were the tiny steps to achieve the most desired World. Thus, I was only focused on my mistakes, and it was clearly affecting my self-confidence. Even though my family and friends were always by my side, I had never considered they could objectively assess my efforts.

Upon enrolling a ballet college, I kept on working fanatically like before. The feeling of the upcoming professional career inspired me greatly. Despite recieving several prizes during international ballet competitions, I still had to deal with the problem such as accepting the imperfection of my body. Obviously, for me it was related to hardships of accepting myself as well. Apparently, a dancer can be an artist and a creator simply by using their body as an instrument. But I also felt how sometimes it prevented me from the natural self-expression on stage. And it was the main reason to acknowledge the problem.

Is there any chance for the young artists to accept their body as it is and take their daily hard work rather as a fascinating process, supported by self-respect and awareness of their uniqueness? This idea was born in my head when I was already a member of the National Ballet Company, and performing on stage became the most important, interesting, yet difficult challenge for me.

Hard work at the ballet studio is the key to the success on the stage. At the same time, we must not deny that the eyes of the audience are always on the most prominent dancers who are not afraid of manifesting their extraordinary artistic expression.

I have been watching principal ballet dancers in the ballet studio, from the wings, or the audience, on the records. Such dancers had already went through a long professional career and they could express themselves sincerely through the dance telling us a certain story, while all technical demands of the dance were naturally there already. I was always so eager to find out for myself how to become one of them.

Year by year, my ballet career was developing. I was leading a lot of performances. I became much stronger in terms of technique which allowed me to think more about the freedom on stage. Going through this issue, I had realized that avoiding the problem of self-confidence would not let me develop myself any further.

If you think about, I had to go back to my childhood memories of my strong desire to become a ballet dancer and the emotional context during my ballet education later. I sincerely needed professional advice. It encouraged me to rethink my mistakes that regularly occur during daily work in ballet studio, it made me regard them as a process in which everyone is growing up as professional. I realize how sometimes we may see imperfections in body from our own perspective, while objectively those imperfections might as well be our special features. After that, the working process in studio became much more interesting and it let me get to know myself deeper.

For ballet dancers, each new performance brings new technical and artistic tasks and new ways to find our individual solution to new problems. This individual work may help a lot to understand ourselves better. And first of all, it is based on our uniqueness, which I believe is the clue to performing pure art on stage.

This idea made me accept my body as the reflection of my personality and my soul, too. While working on the new character, or even telling a story to an audience, I may now rely on my intuition, trust myself by following the music. Each time this kind of discovery makes me feel confident and free in creating my own art within the choreography.

At the end of the day, I think that during the education of future ballet dancers it’s quite important to take care of mental health as well as the physical. It should help students feel their uniqueness, not just as artists, but as humans as well. I believe that it may inspire everyone to be creative and strong in their own way. In such circumstances, early age students would be getting to know their individuality while also nurturing their bodies day-to-day. I’m sure that in the future it may help dancers find their unique style on stage, which will make performances unforgettable for the audience and bring new experiences for the dancers, eventually helping them develop constantly.