I am not the jumping kind

I used to freeze and forget anything I had learned as soon as the allegro part of a class would start. Those 15 minutes of allegro were my biggest nightmare, and the more I was convincing myself that I could never improve, the worse my jumps were getting. I was convinced that I was not the jumping kind.

I knew about the importance of allegro: Agrippina Vaganova, in her book “Basic principles of classical ballet”, states that allegro is the foundation of classical ballet, the moment where real dancing begins. I was desperate: I believed that because of my jumps, I could never make it as a dancer. But one day, something changed.

The day I jumped for the first time

It was a Friday evening. I was taking ballet class with teacher Cristopher Matt. My focus was to feel movement, to deeply connect with my own body and pay attention to whatever was happening on the inside.

Strangely, when the allegro section began, instead of my usual negative attitude, a voice inside me said: “Let’s do this! Let’s improve those jumps and learn something new!”. I was approaching each exercise with enthusiasm, seeing it as an opportunity to grow instead of an opportunity to beat myself up.

We finally got to the last combination of the class: a beautiful grand allegro, ending with a grand jeté. The pianist started playing Solor’s variation from the second act of La Bayadére and I started picturing myself jumping freely on a huge stage.

Then the great moment came: I was doing the combination to the left (also known as “my side that needs more work”) and Mr. Matt told me “High! Think high!” right before the grand jeté. I felt suspended in the air for a second and Mr. Matt noticed the difference as well! I couldn’t believe it: I jumped.

I found out how it felt to be jumping, and I loved it! I have to say the truth, after that day, my jumps have not magically become amazing, and I keep working on them one jump at a time. But since then, I felt an improvement, my teachers noticed the difference and I am now looking forward to allegro in class.

What made the difference? An ensemble of elements: the teacher’s encouragement, the inspiring music, focusing on lowering my heels to the floor, but most importantly, my mindset. Allegro is now my chance to work, to challenge myself and to improve.