“Because you’re a ballet dancer…”

My physio said this to me in my last appointment whilst he was trying to free up some movement in my impinged ankle. I have to admit, it made me feel a bit weird.

I mentioned it a couple of days later to one of my teachers, who looked at me like I’d gone mad and said “but you *are* a ballet dancer”.

I protested on both occasions. Because I’m not. Or am I?

Instinctively I define myself by my day job, the thing I do between 9 and 5 that pays the bills and ballet lessons and pointe shoes and dancewear…

Ballet is my hobby. It’s something I do in my free time. It’s something I fell in love with. It’s something I can’t not do.

But I’m not a ballet dancer. I’m a [my day job] who happens to also take ballet lessons. And I just happen to have an injury that is typical to ballet dancers.

Essentially I don’t know how I feel about being defined as a dancer by somebody else.

But I wonder, at what point do you become a dancer?

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8 Comments

Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), random stuff and nonsense

8 responses to ““Because you’re a ballet dancer…”

  1. My teacher refers to his late mother as “non-professional flamenco dancer”. I liked that and I used the same phrase on my Gravatar and my twitter profile. Later, I deleted it because I felt ashamed. I do not consider myself a dancer, rather a student. But I have been dancing for many years now, and I feel I need to take responsability for what I am doing in class or when I am practicing on my own. I feel I must watch myself with a critical eye and try to correct mistakes before teacher points them out. However, even if I consider taking responsability a part of the process of becoming a dancer, I am not going to call myself a dancer anytime soon.

    • Yes, I think that sums up how I feel about the whole process. It’s almost fraudulent to describe myself as a dancer because, well, I’m just not…

  2. katherinea

    Also I think with identity there are always shades of grey, We are rarely 100% anything, we all have composite, changing identities and yeah, sometimes you’re not sure at what point something merits a label. I mean I’m a baker compared to the average person in my office, but compared to some of the people on the internet, not so much…

    ISTR the French have a different sense of the work amateur than we do, in the sense of being a lover of, rather than the slightly sneery overtone it can have in English. I like the French sense. (Also googling French and amateur gets you some interesting results to do with another sort of loving)

  3. Now, one of the (many) things I identify as is “a morris dancer”. And that’s with a two hour weekly practice session, plus the odd performance here and there.

    It’s not the sum total of my identity – but it’s a very important part of my identity. I’m a dancer, among other stuff, because I dance. Because I love it. Because it’s part of my being: and because I can’t be without it.

  4. I was actually thinking about this same thing the other day. I guess I would define this side of me as “someone who dances ballet.” I tried to think what I would call someone who plays basketball for a hobby, and I am not sure if I would call them a basketballer or “someone who plays basketball”. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end.

  5. I also can’t bring myself to refer to myself Using any label that I don’t have a degree in, spend 90% of my day doing, or earn a paycheck by. I usually use this test: what labels would an acquaintance use? Dancer? Shuh. Costumer, mother, brunette? Definitely. Person who takes ballet? Maybe, if they know me that well, but I don’t expect it. And that’s cool.

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