Moving forward

Do you remember the scenes in Wall-E with the humans? The ones who are stuck in their hovering chairs: lazy, weak, and uninterested in anything that requires effort to attain? I see now why the animators made them.

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The way we look at those scenes must be similar to the way prehistoric humans would look at us today. How could humans ever get that way?

In this modern age, we no longer really depend on our bodies. And our connection to our bodies has loosened to an incredible degree. We’re not at the Wall-E human level, but we’re not so far away. Look at the way we get around. We get up from sitting on a chair or a couch, we walk a few steps to our car, and proceed to sit immediately after getting into work. Often, our entire day revolves around sitting.

This is a worrying trend. Not only is this neglecting the body, but it does damage to it as well. Physiologically, we require movement to be healthy. We can find many scientific studies that confirm this, but we can also just look to common sense. Most of us know we don’t give enough attention to our bodies.

And to a certain extent, we aren’t to be blamed. Look at the world we live in, look at the comforts we have all around us. How many prehistoric humans had couches? Stoves? Washing machines? Chairs? … Hoverboards?

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All of these things allow us efficiency, but they mean we need our body less. And if we’re using the free time gained to spend a few more minutes (or hours) on Facebook, our bodies are losing out. In modern life, we aren’t forced to pay attention to our bodies, and without a strong will and/or the right environment, keeping in shape is extremely difficult.

I was lucky. I had the chance to make moving my profession. I moved every day and got paid to do so. This caused some other problems in my body, because ballet isn’t exactly natural. But there is one piece of knowledge that even when I’m not dancing every day I bring with me: you don’t forget your body. I understand that being able to move is a blessing. It’s something that we don’t necessarily realize until it’s severely diminished or gone.

And unfortunately, when we are stagnant, our bodies’ ability slowly decreases, almost invisibly. So by the time we realize we can’t touch our toes anymore or that our back is causing us chronic pain, many years have gone by and we have to make an extreme, prolonged effort to come back. Once we’re in some kind of shape, it’s easy to maintain – but it’s incredibly difficult to work ourselves back into shape.

So I want to remind you: Your body is incredibly important. It is intricately connected to your mind – so if you’re neglecting your body, you’re also neglecting your mind. Don’t ignore your body.

If you don’t already have one, find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly. Your mind will thank you for it, and you will benefit in the long run.


This PSA is brought to you by health. I don’t want to proselytize for any one kind of training, as different possibilities for movement abound – all I want to do is remind you, dear reader, that your body is an important part of you. Give it some love!

Here are a few links to different kinds of movement, each of which is designed to keep your body healthy in a well-rounded way:

There are many different types of yoga

Essentrics, a workout based on ballet movement, built around lengthening and flexibility, recently introduced to me by a dear friend

And Tai Chi

These are all interesting ways to cross-train with ballet, by the way. For you ballet dancers that read up until here thinking “I already do something physical. Check!” let me remind you that we can always learn more from other approaches to movement. Each different approach contains its own kind of wisdom. It’s up to us to learn what that is.

Maybe everybody who reads this already has a fitness routine, and you all already know how important your body is. How happy that would make me. What do you do to keep in shape or cross-train? Anything I left out that you particularly like? Share in the comments below.

And then get away from the screen and go enjoy having a body!

Return from Plum Village

Hi everyone!

Many of you may not be aware, but I’ve been off at a meditation retreat for the past three months.

I realize this is pretty unusual for us in the western world (though not in Asia), but I’m very happy to have done it. A meditation retreat at Plum Village was one of those things that fit in neatly with all of the reasons I detailed in my previous posts about leaving the world of professional dance.

This is going to be a kind of mid-year analysis with myself to see how things are going. Sorry, this post might be a bit self-indulgent… but I thought it might be an interesting exercise to revisit the four reasons I highlighted for leaving the dance world and to see where my life fits into those ideas five months later. Think of it as a reality check.

Continue reading “Return from Plum Village”

Why I quit my job as a professional ballet dancer

This might be the most personal blog post that I write to date, but it’s something that’s a long time coming (apologies for being away from the blog for so long!). I’ve been avoiding writing this post because it feels like a behemoth of a post, I’m a bit out of writing shape, and I don’t want to release something half-ass-edly. For those of you that know me, I didn’t want to simply tell you all that I had quit and force you to guess why (and receive all sorts of crazy comments); I wanted to share my decision along with the detailed reasoning behind it. This decision was not an easy one to make.

So… I’ve decided to quit being “a professional ballet dancer.”

For at least this year, I will not perform in any shows with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo or any other well-established professional company. Call it a gap year.

Why would I ever step away from the lifestyle that has given me beautiful moments, increased my status in society, and led me through my adult life to the place where I am now? This is a question that I too, have been asking myself. It turns out to be a rather hard question to answer.

Continue reading “Why I quit my job as a professional ballet dancer”