I often imagine ballet as an old white building. An institution or memorial we pass by with respect but take little time to stop and reflect on what it really embodies.
Monuments are built in reverence to the courageous. They are constructed to remind all future generations of the timeless values that were upheld through challenges and difficulty — an ode to the triumph of goodness. Most of all, they stand as inspiration to reawaken the inner monument that resides in every human being. A bold calling that all of us can become “monumental” in our own right.
If dancers were re-imagined as monuments, what would we stand for?
Life as a ballet dancer is a road less traveled. But why is ballet still relevant after hundreds of years? How has it stood the test of time and society? What does ballet uphold that is so important that people from every walk of life look to it for a small glimpse of what is seemingly Divine?
As dancers, we often forget the immense responsibility we have to the world around us. To our audience, our community, and most importantly, to ourselves. Our duty to be grace and beauty. To live with integrity and kindness. To work diligently to create magic onstage and be walking temples of inspiration off. To lay down our human tendencies of perfectionism, fear of failure, craving for applause… To leave our ego at the stage door because we cannot create meaningful art if we are only seeking to satisfy ourselves. Ballet calls us to think big, dream big, move big. The path of a dancer guides us to our own freedom if we are courageous enough to face everything we are afraid of.
Ballet brought me face to face with both my ego and my greatest fears, parts of me that I wasn’t proud of. But once I learned to accept everything about myself, it then showed me who I could become if I just kept moving onward courageously. It uncovered the vision of becoming extraordinary, powerful, inspiring. To be delicate and bold, timeless and authentic, brave and grace-filled.
However, these qualities could not reside only in my head. I was also being called to build them into the fabric of my daily life. The layers of stones that are the foundation of who I am. And what am I made of? I discover everyday that I am made of a Spirit that moves. A joy that dances. A body that is powerful in its vulnerability. And a mind that is courageous in spite of all of its fears.
Ballet has inspired me to become a living, breathing monument.
What makes us monumental is what we stand for and who we are in a world that tries to tell us who to be.
There is no greater offering we can give this world than the beauty that lies within us.