Opinion: Becoming A Mystique Dancer For a Day
Blue poms and nude jazz shoes were strewn across the floor, girls clustered in small groups before warm up and anxiety filled my chest as I walked towards the group.
On a dare, I had become part of Mystique for the day.
I was raised in a studio where we were taught to hate competitive dancers. We placed ourselves on a pedestal holding the belief that because we had “more” technique, we were the better dancers. Technique was crucial to our dignity. A place where to be a competitive dancer was an insult to dance. It was pretty extreme.
And there I was. Dirty pink ballet shoes, hyperventilating and about to destroy my reputation as a dancer knowing the studio I grew up in.
To warm up in ballet class, we usually start at a barre with articulating and focusing on each muscle and body part. Each exercise at barre directly corresponds and prepares our body for the movement we will be doing in the center without the barre.
Mystique started off with cardio. I haven’t ran in two years. It took work to keep up with these dancers and I have fairly decent stamina. I could already tell these dancers were strong and were going to meet their dancing with a lot of force.
After we had finished three minutes of abs, it was time to stretch. This was pretty standard in my experience with dance, usually stretching for five or seven minutes to ensure legs were at their highest.
Next, we learned a few dance combinations.
It was intense. These dancers were about hitting the shapes and the movements with force and speed. Much different than my primary ballet background. Ballet is meticulous in that there is a great deal of effort in arriving at the position, holding the position and coming out of the movement fluidly into the next.
The movements themselves were similar to jazz as far as technique. About this time was when I realized it isn’t that they don’t have technique. It is just different from what I am accustomed to.
Ballet has a similar set up in technique. There are different kinds of technique – Vaganova, Balanchine, American Ballet Theater, and while none of them are “wrong,” they all are different and focus on different things.
The team also presented feedback in a collaborative effort. It wasn’t only the captains, but it was everyone on the team that wanted to help me to succeed. The girls were extremely kind in how they gave feedback.
The girls on Mystique are some of the sweetest dancers I have ever met. I love how they foster teamwork and are really encouraging. Even though I was new to the team, they didn’t treat me any differently.
Overall, it was a really positive memory that changed my opinion on competition dance. Even though their style of dance is different than mine, they have a technique and are beautiful dancers, but their hearts are even prettier.
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