What I Learned From Ballet: Just Keep Dancing (Guest Post)

"What I Learned From Ballet" is an ongoing series at the ajennda (you can find Jenn's post here) and we are privileged to have the wonderful dancer and blogger Nicole LeBonde offer her wisdom and insight about the art.

I started ballet very late- I was 12. I had been in love with ballet for years, but due to financial circumstances in my family, and the fact that we lived in rural Pennsylvania, ballet classes were not an option.

I was persistent. I begged. I got books out of the library and practiced in my bedroom. I got ballets and musicals at the video store (remember those?). So, when a friend asked me to go with her for "Bring a Friend Week" at her dance studio, I was allowed to go. And then, we signed up, for ballet AND jazz! I was in heaven.

Starting as late as I did, I was really behind. I ended up in a different class than my friend, who had been taking dance since she was 3. While I was disappointed, I just kept dancing.

That studio had a company, that I desperately wanted to be a part of. A few years later, I auditioned and didn't make it. The director, however, was so impressed with my dedication and effort, that she asked me to be a management intern with them. I got to go to rehearsals and learn some of the rep. I went with them to gigs, and would make sure everything was set up, and sometimes introduce them (this became my first taste of stage management and public speaking). I even traveled with them to Israel and got to actually dance in 1 performance there. And, I just kept dancing. 

My junior year of high school, the studio closed. I had to find a new studio. I did, but it was over 30 minutes away, in the next town. I drove myself to class. And my after-school job went to help pay for my gas, my classes and my costumes. And, I just kept dancing.

When I went to college, I didn’t think I was going to study dance. I didn’t think I was good enough. So, I chose a school that had dance classes, and dance as a minor. But once I got there, I was in love with the dance community. And for the first time, I was introduced to modern dance. I had found my home. I became a dance major, and I just kept dancing.

Since then, I’ve made my living teaching, creating and performing. I have created my own dance fitness company, CABARRET- which combines ballet barre work with burlesque/vintage jazz. Sometimes, I look back at that 12 year old girl, and am so impressed with her tenacity. She was determined. She knew what she wanted, and was going to do it herself if need be. And she kept going. High school and college are not easy times, and to be discouraged by a thing you love makes it extra difficult. But, I made it. I’ve never been the best dancer in the studio. But, I have solid technique, an even stronger work ethic and a heart and performance quality that makes me irresistible on stage. And, I kept dancing.

Ballet taught me tenacity. It taught me that being a dancer is not the only way to make a living in dance. It taught me that when you want something badly enough, there is a way to keep it in your life- maybe not in the way the 12 year old you imagined, but in a way that is fulfilling and real. These are incredible life lessons, that I’m thankful for everyday, and I’m regularly amazed that this in my life.

About the Author

Nicole LaBonde wants to live in a world where all women are confident with their voices, bodies and lives. As a multi-preneur, she’s been featured in Business Heroine, Philadelphia Magazine’s BeWell Blog, and multiple ebooks on Health and Fitness topics.

When she’s not running her 4 business, you can find her voraciously reading, listening to podcasts or webinars, usually at the beach!

Her first 10 minute workout— Thigh Toning and Booty Blasting — is now available on CABARRET’s website.

Find out how to work with Nicole at www.nicolelabonde.com.


blake said...

great writing!

Michelle Liew said...

This is great. Ballet, like all forms of art, needs lots of practice, dedication and resilience!

Jenn Romano said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story and insight, Nicole! Excellent post :)


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