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  • Writer's pictureHannah Box

Aliveness and Why I Love Ballet

After my last blog post, my professor asked me: “What does ‘aliveness’ mean to you?” This question absolutely stumped me. As someone who suffers from emotional “ups and downs,” my sense of “aliveness” feels like a constant pendulum swing… and I’m somehow running alongside the pendulum - just trying to keep up.

I will not share my deep emotional experiences in this blog. I simply do not want to. I will be very honest - I sometimes feel frustrated and resentful that artistic reflection within academia pokes and prods at one’s emotional state without considering the impact that that can have on an individual. This is a feeling I have had since starting my undergraduate degree, and it has never quite felt right to me. Although I have ultimate power as the "author," even the act of writing this blog feels a bit raw and uncomfortable - and I am constantly editing what I say… the requirement of sharing and openness to be academically successful in the arts drains me in a way that I do not quite yet have the vocabulary to describe.

I know that honest reflection is an important aspect of the artistic / academic process, which is why I am still happily writing this blog! However, I do believe boundaries are important and are not always discussed enough... okay, rant over. Back to the prompt!

I will say that I believe that personally, balance and stability are my ingredients for “aliveness.” Instead of chasing a wildly swinging pendulum, I can pace around just a small surface area - feeling the highs and lows of the normal human experience. I have been pursuing this balance as my ultimate life goal for a few years now, and I believe it is going very well. I meditate, constantly check in with myself, and take time for solitude and joy whenever I can.

Although minor life changes have been very impactful, the greatest thing that has always given me balance is ballet class. When I was younger, I would tell my mom that ballet “stacked my brain.” There is something about the habitual format and rigor that has always made me feel better. If I felt like my mind was going in a million different directions - take ballet class and just focus on your silly plies. If I felt sluggish and unmotivated - your ballet teacher doesn’t really care (in the best way), just do your plies. Now, as a teacher, I can feel something similar. No matter where my mind is, my students deserve to be taught by the best version of myself that I can muster in that moment. They just want to do their plies.

I truly feel the most “alive” when I can explain a concept to my students and it “clicks.” Or when I get to witness the moment where a young child really falls in love with ballet, and you just know that they are hooked. I think this passion for teaching really comes from the objective truth that ballet has been my saving grace in my life. I feel so lucky that I get to give back to the art form that continues to save me, with the added bonus of maybe helping another kid save themselves too.

The idea of “aliveness” is complicated when you’ve had a complicated relationship with yourself. But I do know that dance makes me feel like everything is going to be okay… and I hope I can explore this idea more in my choreography. Ultimately, I believe I want this project to be a celebration of the “aliveness” and balance ballet gives me on a daily basis. This question from my professor really solidified my desire to celebrate resiliency - not unpack trauma.

I don’t know. I just like dancing.

The moment I was hooked... posing with my first teacher - Miss Kristen

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