Beginner Ballerina Profile: Zoe Simms aka Bush Ballerina

Our first nominated Beginner Ballerina is Zoe Simms, aka Bush Ballerina. Check out the profile below and make sure you follow her blog to read more about the upcoming ballet classes she’ll be attending with her daughter!

River Ballet 1

When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

I started ballet in March this year (2013). I was 35 years old.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

I only took a handful of ballet lessons in my childhood. I did a little jazz and tap.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

Ballet was a style of dance that I had never tried properly as a child, and it had always kind of baffled me. It looked complicated and intense. I was overwhelmed by it. Especially the ballet language – “You want me to pirou-what?” I mean, I thought it was absolutely beautiful and enchanting, and I had always wanted to learn it. But I was too scared.

I decided to start ballet as an adult to help me fight my way out of a depression. It was essentially therapy. I needed to spend time each day focussing on something that was completely new to me, and was only for me – not for anyone else. It needed to take me out of my comfort zone. I chose ballet to do that, and it worked.

It’s amazing how something you can be so afraid of can end up being so healing.

Tenterfield ballet 1

Where do you take classes?

I live in the bush and don’t have access to any adult classes, so I teach myself. I read books on teaching ballet and I search the internet for great ballet videos to learn from. So I take classes in my lounge room. And sometimes by the river.

I will be travelling back and forth to Sydney for some medical treatments for my daughter soon, and I have lined up some ballet classes at Studio Tibor while I am down there. I’m really looking forward to that.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

Ballet soothes my soul. That’s my favorite part.

What is your least favorite part?

Not being able to do everything I wish I could do. Why can’t a retire in releve be easier to hold?

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?zoe ballet hilltop

Oh, I have a mega Polina crush (Polina Semionova)! Haha. Actually, the people who inspire me the most are those who aren’t technically supposed to be dancing ballet but are doing it anyway. Traditionally there has been discouragement around starting ballet any older than teenhood, but now there are all these people starting ballet all through adulthood . It’s both beautiful in contrast, and courageous.

I’m also inspired by the teachers who are not only instructing adult dancers in ballet, but are holding them to high expectations. Those teachers are telling adults starting ballet that they shouldn’t expect less of themselves just because they are not spring chickens. I think that is an inspiring way to view life in general.

What motivates you to keep dancing?

The acute awareness that one day I won’t be able to dance anymore, and that I may be unable to dance sooner rather than later, is a major motivational factor.

I have a connective tissue disorder which makes my body pretty high maintenance. I need to work really hard to keep my body functioning (sometimes only semi-functioning). Ballet has become an important form of physical therapy for me. It’s also, as I mentioned earlier, my emotional therapy. So basically I become a a bit of an all round mess if I don’t dance! Lol.

Do you take any other dance classes?

No. But I would love to have a go at some of the ballroom styles before my dancing days are over. That would be even harder to learn on my own, in the bush! “Bush Ballroom?” Haha.

What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

My blog. Watching movies. Attempting to fish. Oh, and I am an unabashed Dancing with the Stars geek. Our Australian version just started a new series, so that is my Tuesday night hobby at the moment!

What advice would you like to give to those who want to start ballet or have just started?

You won’t always be able to dance your heart out. So do it while you can.

Remember that every day you are able to dance is a blessing. It’s easy to feel disappointed and frustrated with our physical limitations (especially as adults entering ballet) but it is a blessing to even be in the position that enables you to feel that frustration. Feel blessed that you have a studio or a lounge room to walk into for ballet. Feel blessed to have a teacher or access to amazing teachers who wrote books that you can learn from. Feel blessed when the music starts. Feel blessed when you move your body – even if it’s in the wrong direction. It’s kind of neat that you have a body you can move, because not everyone has that. Ballet really is a gift.

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