At the moment, we are preparing for the April 30 premiere of Balletaften: an evening made up of August Bournonville's Konservatoriet; Johan Kobborg's new work, Alumnus (composed of Les Lutins and Salute); and Harald Landers' classic, Etudes. For me, these evenings are an education unto themselves. I've learned more of the Bournonville style--new to me--through Konservatoriet. Being a part of the creation of Salute has forced me out of my comfort zone and into a girly, very "not me" sort of character; convincingly conveying a coquettish, flirtatious personality has never come very easily to me, a dancer who has always felt more natural in plotless works. And Etudes is a lesson in and of itself: the releve section gives me butterflies just thinking about it, and at the end of every rehearsal, my legs and feet are quite spent. All of these work-related lessons got me thinking about what other kinds of lessons I have learned, and am trying to master, this year.
I think I have changed a lot in the past year, both as a ballet dancer and as a human being. The results of lessons learned in the studio can (hopefully) be seen onstage, but the others--those daily bits of knowledge we pick up; the life consequences that teach us most of all--are less showy. In my second season with Royal Danish Ballet, I have learned to seize opportunities when they come, and to take those chances and run with them. I have come to realize that letting people in can be a good thing. This one is an unmastered study: in times of stress or frustration, I often become offensively introverted and shut people out, usually the ones closest to me. I now know that if a dinner utensil proves unnecessary during the meal, thus remaining clean, it is wise if one does not put the clean utensil on the dirty dinner plate at the meal's end. This is thoughtless and only increases the amount of dishwashing. I am trying to master a difficult lesson, which is that in times of work frustration or ballet-related stress, one should not bring those problems home. It can be very hard for me to leave whatever happens at work, at work; I used to be very good at this when I was younger, and I think it's extremely important for the preservation of personal sanity. And so, I'm taking great pains to remaster this skill. When one does laundry, do not forget about it and make sure someone is home to hang it dry. A very close call has caused this particular lesson to become quite ingrained in my brain. Do not, under any circumstances, return to old bad habits or dark places, no matter how enticing or comfortable they may seem. The consequences are simply not worth it, personally or professionally.
But perhaps most important of all: never take the ones you love for granted. My grandmother, who had been quite healthy, suddenly underwent kidney surgery recently, and I realized how fragile--and beautiful--life can be. I have started to look at my life and the people I love, and I have come to the distressing conclusion that I do, more often than not, take it for granted that my family and friends and boyfriend will always just be there for me. It is a shockingly easy thing to do, and often it isn't until we almost lose or do lose someone that we are jolted awake to the fact that the people we build our lives with are, in fact, very special commodities. Whether it's family, a friendship, a relationship, even a pet, I think the most crucial lesson I have learned also happens to be the most recent: to remind myself daily how freaking lucky I am to have certain spectacular people in my life, and to treat them accordingly. This lesson goes hand in hand with some of the above (not shutting people out; keeping work stuff at work; etc), and it's a new work in process for me, but I have a feeling that it is a very important study--and one that won't bring on any nervous butterflies.
2 hours ago