• Natasha Connell

MERDE! Adult Ballet Wants All of Me!

Updated: May 22, 2019


have a confession to make; for a long time, I ignored my true self, although alignment with my best self has always been my mantra. I failed to see that my best self is so intertwined with ballet, that the best way I can serve the greater good is by sharing that, and only that. I spent years in the fitness industry, because I have always had a natural inclination for knowing how to create fitness programs and helping people that needed help. Growing up dancing probably has something to do with that, since dancers are so attuned to their body and what it needs to be better. But in reality, I never fit in as a "fitness girl", because i'm a freaking bunhead! I liked having slightly larger than average muscles when I was involved in fitness competitions, but maintaining them was a full time job, without dancing. I began teaching ballet to adults about 3 years ago, but I did it part time, because the whole fitness world seemed so much bigger. I opened a boutique fitness studio, with the idea of incorporating adult ballet as a viable group fitness modality. I developed other fitness modalities and created customized fitness and nutrition programs that worked for hundreds of clients, because it was easy (the creating, not the business part, that was crazy hard!). The practice of ballet for adults was just one of the things I encouraged my clients to do.

But just because developing effective fitness programs and implementing them came easy to me, it did not mean that it gave me the level of joy that teaching, and practicing ballet gives me. Being involved in so many different aspects of fitness was also exhausting, So, I lived various iterations of being a successful, very stressed out, entrepreneurial fitness professional, with a ballet problem. After a somewhat unexpected move due to my husband’s military career, the blessing in disguise came in the form of me having to start over.


The military assigned my husband to a new base. Logistically, it was not conducive to either my mental health or the quality of the service I am used to providing, to leave my studio in someone else’s hands, so I closed up shop, mourned the loss, and and got a job teaching at a local fitness studio in our new city, Columbus Georgia. I was given the opportunity to teach my own modalities; adult ballet, yoga with weights, and my own version of a High Intensity Interval Training circuit. So, I went along, teaching about 20 hours a week, splitting my energy between these classes and being a doctoral student of Health Psychology. Pretty much the same thing I was doing at my own studio before. At some point, I checked in with my feelings, and I realized that I only felt on point and on purpose while I was teaching the adult ballet classes. Not because I did not like my other classes, after all, I created them myself, is not like I was obligated to follow some box format of mindless corporate regurgitated group training. No. It was ballet. It needed more of me. I felt that unless I gave it all the energy I had in me, I could not achieve what really wanted; to elevate the practice of ballet by adults to a new level that went beyond hobby and beyond fitness, into the realm of respected artistic and physical discipline.


Ballet is like that. And it is such a great metaphor for life; it requires your full attention to be merely decent at it. And it makes you uncomfortable if you digress. Once the discomfort of not giving ballet my full attention became unbearable and the work I was doing became more of a daily grind, I put in my 2 weeks’ notice, and started driving around town, with the purpose of finding a home for my adult ballet class, because I knew that teaching that class, was my connection to my best self, to my flow state, and to a deep connection with my students. Once I made the radical decision to refocus my career 180 degrees, abandoning the persona of a fitness professional that I worked so hard to create. (because I thought it was more relatable to a wider audience), amazing things began to happen; I found Company C Dance Academy. This dance studio is housed in one of the most amazing historic buildings in town. Their larger upstairs studio room with a sprung floor and panoramic windows, is so incredibly inspiring. They welcomed my idea for an adult ballet program with open arms, and even invited me to teach ballet to their teenage students. This is a competition-focused studio, but the director understands that ballet training is fundamental for the success of any type of dancer. As these paragons of the local dance community welcomed me so warmly into their dance family, I knew that I am finally living on purpose!! Many other great things have happened since I decided to put all my focus on ballet; I got invited to be an ambassador for ArtemotionUSA Adult Summer Intensive at Ballet West, I found a dance partner, David Coleman, with whom I get to practice Pax de Deux on a regular basis, and I did an amazing ballet photo shoot with.Keep Calm and Take a Photo, a local photographer collective. I will also be teaching a dance class at CSU next fall. So you see, when you lean in, and zero in on what really gets you out of bed in the morning, the universe starts conspiring with you!. I must acknowledge Tom and Lisa Bileu from Impact Theory, and Robin Sharma's 5 AM Club in helping me find the clarity and drive I needed. The resources they provide are invaluable for personal growth!


So it all worked out in the end; I made the decision to focus on ballet, feeling that it is the best way I can contribute to making the world a better, happier place, by teaching people to find their confidence, and their fitness and grace in the practice of ballet.


Ballet also took over my doctoral research at Walden University. Inspired by the work of the great Dr. Dance, Peter Lovatt, I realized that I can use my specialization in Health Psychology to study the many ways adult ballet changes lives for the better.


And I made another decision; I realize that my experiences In the adult ballet world are relatable to a growing community of others with the same fire, women and men that refuse to stop dancing just because they grew up. I then completely rebuilt my website and other social platforms to focus on that, and to make it into a virtual space where all the adult dancers can come for information, support, and community. I aspire to join likes of Jana and Abby from Ballerinas by Night, Natalie Danza and Nicole x 2, Linda and Bethany from Ballet for Adults , amongst many others in the mission of elevating the practice of ballet by adults to new heights and making it accessible to as many as possible, regardless of age, gender, experience level or body shape.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to finally live in my purpose like this, and now that I am here, it seems silly to me that I did not see it before. But I will probably write an entire another post on that, because clarity is kind of a big deal.

So, this is me, this is what I have, this is what I live for. I will lay it all out here and share it with anyone that feels the need to dance, no matter their age. Because the sharing is even more important than the doing. I will dance until I can’t, and then I will continue teaching it, researching it and sharing it, until my very last breath on this earth. And after I am gone, that will be my legacy.


How do you feel about ballet for adults? I really really want to know! Leave a comment, or a question and I will respond!

Much love,

Natasha


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