The Minimalist Dancer
How embracing Minimalism can help the adult dancer succeed
When I first started taking ballet as an adult, I was also doing a lot of other stuff; and like most Americans, also was constantly acquiring a lot of stuff, because I was still in the mindset that more is better. Amongst my activities there was obstacle racing, yoga, fitness competitions, meditation, gardening, lots of different crafting, and of course, work and school, and side jobs like public speaking appearances, ocasional concerts, and attending events that I was invited to! Amongst the stuff I continually kept buying you can count clothes, shoes, accessories, subscription boxes, pet stuff, cooking stuff, home decor, art supplies, music and videos, gifts for all occasions, and quite a lot more miscellaneous. I figured if I liked it, I must posses is, and also keep it. Now, I was always pretty good at cleaning out my closet periodically, but definitely not enough, and usually the stuff was quickly replaced with new things!
Once I realized that I wanted to take ballet more than once a week because I wanted to get better faster, I decided to figure out what my available resources were, and how it would be best to use them, since ballet has its costs, both of time, and money.
It was around this time that I came across the website THE MINIMALISTS. I seriously recommend you check it out, because is life changing advice! Basically The Minimalists posit that in order to focus on one truly loves to do and to live one's best life, one must let go of all the unnecessary things, activities and even people, that do not significantly contribute to our life in a way that enriches and uplifts us. This resonated deeply with me, and I began to put their advice into action.
Over the course of the next couple of years, I took these steps, to declutter my life, and make room for not only ballet, but a more meaningful and mindful life:
* I tackled my closet first, getting rid of all the stuff I did not wear. I also decided to limit the color palette of my wardrobe, since I always tended to go to certain colors first, those in a neutral palette. I realized I only needed about 10% of what I had, so thats how much I kept. I was able to sell a lot of quality pieces I had, and donated the rest. My current wardrobe reflects my style and personality, because is properly curated, and a lot of things can be mixed and matched.
* The kids and husband's closets were next. Let's just say that in this case, it is easier to ask for forgiveness, than permission. At the end, no one missed any of the stuff I got rid of.
* I went trough the kitchen cabinets, keeping only the tools, small appliances and cookware that we used on a regular basis and letting go of everything else. This included pet supplies as well. I mean, my two tiny dogs do not really need a full wardrobe ! The junk drawer had a good cleanup as well, being renamed the "necessary odd things drawer"
* The home library was next. 80% of all physical media was let go, since most of it can be obtained digitally. Photo albums and memorabilia was all digitized and stored on the cloud. The technology we currently have available to access all types of media and images digitally, makes it archaic to just have a room full of paper.
* I continued this process in every room, and every drawer of the house, eventually applying the same principle to home decor and furniture; if it was not in good condition, getting used regularly, and providing aesthetic pleasure, it had to go!
* This letting go of physical junk naturally led me into taking the same approach with my circle of friends, and the activities I pursued. The way I approached was like this; would I rather do this, or have more time for maybe ballet, or just spend time with my family? Since a lot of these activities are also financially costly, this freed a lot of resources. I suddenly had a lot more time for what I wanted because I also learned to say no to invites that I really did not care to say yes to.
* Finally, I also made it a point to declutter my laptop and iPhone, only keeping the apps and files that I do use and enjoy.
*And lets not forget the mental clean up! I took some time to do some introspection, and got rid of all the mental patterns that also no longer served me, like over-worrying, analysis paralysis, insecurities, and trying to make everyone happy. So I learned to understand and accept how I feel, be able to observe my feelings without judgement, and act accordingly. This last process also allowed me to be realistic about my dancing, as well as to continue to challenge myself without having to compare myself to anyone else, or to have to justify to anyone why I do what I do.
Let me say again, that this process took a couple of years, and it requires maintenance. At the beginning of each month I take stock, to make sure I am still on the minimalist track, and still focused on whats important. I always find things to improve upon, and new things to let go of, that might have been a keeper 6 months ago, but no longer are. Being able to enjoy things in this detached manner feel quite good! and I feel like new beautiful things and experience keep flowing trough in my life, enriching it. And I do not need to hold on to them forever.
My family has slowly embraced this lifestyle, and now they readily come to me when they get some new clothes, with a little pile of old ones to donate, because they know the rule; something comes in, something goes out. We life in a loft that albeit spacious, is not big on storage space, which is a blessing for a minimalist! We are always on the lookout to have the place looking great and without clutter.
Since I am not trying to do a bunch of other activities, I find time for a ballet class pretty much every day, somedays to take, and some days to teach. Instead of going to the gym for conditioning, I do a routine at home when I first wake up, saving both time and money.
Being careful when it comes to shopping, and not buying things unless I really ned or want them, also puts extra money in the bank for ballet related expenses. If I need something, I always look resale websites like POSHMARK or Facebook Marketplace before I pay retail for it. These are also great places to sell the stuff that you no longer need, but someone else might!, so not only are you living minimally, you are living sustainably!
When it comes to gifting, I am not shy to tell anyone that might be thinking about getting me a physical gift, to consider gifting an experience instead, like for example, tickets to a great show. I try to do the same, and gift experiences instead of physical things that are just going to accumulate in peoples' closets.
As an adult ballet dancer, who is also a graduate student and who loves her family, Minimalist has beed very transformative. It has been the catalyst that has allowed me to go deeper in my dancing, and still have time for a balanced home life, by eliminating all the things that I liked and needed less.
Is Minimalism something you practice? how has it helped you? Do you think any of the aspects of Minimalism would be a challenge for you? I welcome your feedback and questions!
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Keep dancing, and keep Transcending!!! Much love to all!