Julian has been working really hard in all his dance classes, and this week he began taking the pointe class on Thursdays, although he is not doing pointe but rather “boy stuff.” I watched his jazz class on Wednesday night at Studio 10, and I was amazed at the progress he is making there. And Julian informed me that he feels great in all his classes at TDC.
However, I heard Keith Banks telling him to find a middle road between not trying hard enough and trying too hard, and Mark Foehringer told Julian that he is being kept in that “lower” modern class and the one “lower” ballet class so he can be slowed down (different from “held down or held back”). The reason for this is simple: His teachers want to be sure he gets the fundamentals, the basics, and doesn’t get hurt.
We are not something new. At Ballet San Jose School, Julian pushed to be moved up in levels, but Lise Lacour held him back telling us he still needed to get some technique down and build muscle. When he tapped with Anthony LoCascio, Anthony kept him in the lower tap class even though Julian was perfectly capable of tapping with the more advanced class. Why? Because Anthony wanted him to tap “clean.” He wanted to be sure Julian learned the basics and got the fundamental technique correctly before he moved on.
Here’s the issue at its core: Julian, like most boys, likes to move fast. He gets the step and wants to move one. He doesn’t want to perfect it. He wants to go on to the next movement. In dance, just like in other things in life, it’s important to do things well. And that’s the lesson here. In dance, you have to move slowly and make each movement perfectly before you can go on to the next one. (That’s why ballet dancers spend so much time at the barre doing the same movements over and over again, isn’t it? Practice makes perfect.) Or, maybe more correctly said, you can go on to the next one, but you have to keep going back to the first one and repeating it until you get it right each time. Then, you can move on…or up, as it may be.
Boys like to move fast. Julian walked at 9 months. He was trying to stand from the time he was tiny, hanging onto my fingers and pushing on his little legs until he was upright. Movement is his way of being in the world. It’s hard to slow him down, but slow him down his teachers must, even if he doesn’t like it. And that’s the lesson he’s learning.
Surprisingly, he has decided it’s an okay lesson, and, as I said, he’s working hard and moving forward by leaps and bounds in spite of – or maybe because of – his teachers and his determination to improve. He sees this as moving up, but the words are just different. All that matters is that he’s getting where he wants to go…fast or slow….he’s getting there.