Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Evening With Anne Polajenko: "To Quit of Not to Quit?"


Recently, a student asked me if, at any time during my dancing days, I was ever tempted to just throw in the towel and quit. Since my students know how committed I am to what I do, I guess my answer shocked them. I laughed.

“Sure,” I chuckled, “several times.”  The truth is every professional dancer goes through periods of self-doubt, disappointment or just sheer mental and physical exhaustion. The temptation to quit can be quite overpowering at times, especially when the grass looks so much greener on the other side! Imagine a life with a schedule like “normal” people, week-ends to sleep in, holidays like everyone else, no dieting, no daily class, no shin splints, no grinding discipline and, above all, no Pointe shoe sewing. Heaven!

Well, almost.

When you have reached a certain level, dancing is not something you put on and take off like a pretty dress nor is it a hobby you can take or leave at will. It is a commitment, a lifestyle, a vocation. It is in you. When you leave it, after a while you begin to notice that it is still there and shows itself in different ways. Your body misses the daily class you so hated, your soul misses the camaraderie of fellow dancers, your brain begins replaying choreography you loved to dance. Life may be easier in some ways but less stimulating in others. Now you find yourself wishing you had thought your decision through a little better.

Quitting before your time takes some serious thought whether you are professional or a student. It should not be an impulsive decision because it is almost impossible to come back. Seeking advice is always a good idea but beware of (not so) well-meaning colleagues or even directors. In my case, I turned to family members who could give me a more objective perspective.

It is perfectly OK to question why you are dancing. If nothing else, it makes us re-assess our progress, our ability to balance demanding schedules with everyday life and our overall commitment to what we do. 

           ----Anne Polajenko


    Hope you are all having a great week, 

                        Love from your humble blogger,

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