Beginner Ballerina Profile: Lisa Blanchard


This week’s profile is of Lisa Blanchard, who wrote one of my favorite guest posts that has been published on ABP, Jealousy & Ballet.

When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

About 4 years ago.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

No, but my best friend took lessons and we would play “ballet class.” She actually taught me how to spot.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

At the time I was extremely stressed and felt the need to find something I could get “lost” in.

Where do you take classes?

I take class once a week at my local park district with a very experienced teacher.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

For me something magical happens during barre. It feels healing, empowering, demanding and beautiful all swirled together.

What is your least favorite part?

Center because I struggle with the “letting go” part of dance. Movements that require a sense of abandonment like balances and bourrees don’t come naturally to me.

Who/What is your ballet inspiration?

My teacher, Catherine Tully. When she demonstrates at the barre (even with those crazy dance sneakers she wears), she looks stunningly graceful. I try to take mental notes of her hands and the way her limbs move in opposition to each other and I’m just bowled over by the sheer beauty of her movement.

What motivates you to keep dancing?

Improving, gaining strength, overcoming bad habits — all the things that feel like little victories.

Do you take any other dance classes?


What are your hobbies outside of ballet?

I enjoy reading and following blogs mostly about ballet, nutrition, & fitness Recently, I have fallen hard for classical music and I just started a Feldenkrais class.

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

Find a great teacher, buy a book about ballet basics that you can reference, and be patient. It will take a while for your brain and body to produce the kind of ballet you want. When you start to feel things come together, the payoff is huge.

Do you have a blog?

No, but my teacher has a great one, 4dancers.

Guest Post: Jealousy & Ballet

beachI adore my intermediate adult ballet class.  Days before I’m already daydreaming about the music and the rush I know I’ll experience from feeling my body struggle to provide the physical strength and mental concentration dance demands.

When we get a newcomer, a pattern usually emerges.  Things don’t flow for a while.  It takes them time to coordinate mind and body again.  Maybe it was because I had a knee injury and was away for a few months that it came as such a shock to me.  I mean, I should have been glad just to return to class, and I was, but it’s so tough to see what you so desperately want, right in front of you.  And newcomer really did pick the barre space right in front of me.

In the weeks I was gone, it all clicked for her.   I had to admit — she looked amazing.  My rational mind said she probably worked very hard to look like that, but, in reality, it was much easier to think, “Why can’t I look like that?”  Anger and disappointment soon followed — I was jealous!  Jealous and disappointed in myself for feeling so.   Weeks passed and although I’d lost some ground from my injury, I focused on things I hadn’t lost.   One day after class, this newcomer, whose name is Stacey, shared that she had been an apprentice with a modern dance company for a few years.   I admit — it was music to my ears.

Ballet is about pushing yourself.  Personally, it’s also about surprising myself.  Divine little moments where things go surprisingly right.   The beautiful realization that my joy, perseverance and fulfillment come from these magical moments.   That’s so powerful and I’d be a fool to let someone else’s beautiful lines or turnout take that away.

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