Be Great

I just read an article about the talent myth and greatness. It was really inspiring because it basically said you don’t need talent to be great – you need obsessive practice. I find this really inspiring because it confirms what I’ve believed in my head for years (but no one else seems to believe). You don’t need talent to become a great dancer. You need hard work. In fact, even an interview in Pointe magazine with the Royal Ballet’s Johan Kobborg confirms it. They asked “In reaching the top, how much is talent and how much is sweat?” He replied, “For me, it was definitely more determination than talent. I know principals all over the world who are actually not naturally talented, but have worked very hard.”

There. It’s a fact. It’s hard work, not talent, that make a great dancer (or a great anything for that matter).

While with dance certain innate abilities (like natural flexibility) can certainly help make your journey to greatness easier, they are definitely not prerequisites. No one seems to believe me when I spout this idea. When I asked my studio director about having a career in ballet, he told me “You chose dance. Dance did not choose you.”

Excuse my language, but what the fuck?? Hasn’t he ever heard of hard work and determination?? Of course, I understand now that there are other genetic factors that would limit my success in ballet (because let’s face it, ballet is sort of stuck in its ways when it comes to body types), I still felt very offended at that comment. It’s like all my hard work I had put in thus far meant nothing, all because I wasn’t “naturally talented.”

Screw that. I’ve always believed that I was going to be great, in some way, shape, or form. I fully intend to do that, whether I’m “naturally talented” or not.

Anyways, back to the article. The article really inspired me to pursue my dreams with absolute, fierce determination. It also reminded me of how much I would have to sacrifice in order to achieve such an ambitious dream. There’s so many things I want to do and experience in college, there’d have to be a trade off. Dance or a social life?? Dance or being able to afford to treat yourself?? There are so many trade offs. I think it’s worth it – but I’d have to be 100% committed.

Like I said, there are other things besides “talent” that would limit my success in the professional ballet world, namely my non-waif like body type, age, lack of pointe skills, and lack of flexibility. Flexibility and pointe work can be developed, but the others I’m stuck with. Luckily, modern offers me a solution to that problem. And I’m still feeling committed to my desire to do modern in college. Modern dancers tend to have more “normal” bodies and there’s no pointe work involved!! Plus, it seems that modern companies seem to be less strict about the age limit of their dancers.

This is just my grand plan. I waver back and forth because sometimes I think, “Oh I wouldn’t like being a professional dancer” and other times, it’s all I can think about. Like I said, I’d have to commit myself 100% to this dream. It’s still up in the air as with everything right now. I’m in a transition period in my life. I still have to find out if I like modern!!

But yes. This is just my little rant for the night. I just want everyone to know – screw the critics!! If you believe you can do it, with enough hard work and determination, you can!! As Fort Minor said, “It’s 10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will. 5% pleasure and 50% pain and 100% reason to remember the name!!”



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. classicalballetteacher
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 18:16:20

    I am a big believer in hard work over talent. I’m just sorry to hear that it took so long for you to get some validation on this point.

    By the way, I’ve been reading backwards from today’s post to this and I just have to comment that I think you’ve really matured dramatically in your thoughts and plans since I first started reading. It’s been very interesting to watch you form ideas, flesh them out and form hypotheses. Your dialogue seems increasingly intelligent and rational. I hope you’ll keep writing … maybe one day you will write that book. :)


  2. emilleejoyce
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 20:43:12

    Thank you. I like to think I have matured too. It’s amazing what can happen in 1 year. And I definitely plan to keep writing. I’m about to enter one of the most pivotal periods of my life and I definitely want a written record of it.


  3. Lauren
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 00:22:17

    I envy you so much!!! I have always wanted to take ballet but my mom said no. I was planning on taking it in college but was then told that i was too old. Do you think this is true? And do you have any advice for late starters?


  4. emilleejoyce
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 01:06:17

    I don’t think you can ever be too old to take ballet. The best advice for late starters I can give is to just be confident in your abilities, especially if you have to wind up taking classes with kids much younger than you. And of course, to try your best. You can never go wrong with that!


  5. Rebecca
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 18:30:31

    Hey, I loved reading this. I’ve been dancing for 4 years and it’s definitely something I want to continue. The problem I face is that I’m not a stick. I’m Spanish and have a butt and curves. However, everyone compliments me on my dancing and I love that I have long legs, so I fill the stage a bit more. I’ve mostly heard criticism from my family, saying I’m too big for ballet. I’m happy to say that I’m on pointe and get better every single day. Never give up on your dreams and keep writing! :]]


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