Today we remember one of America’s greatest heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. This wise and courageous leader left us with many inspiring thoughts. One of them is my daily mantra:
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
When I first started teaching 44 years ago, I mainly taught professionals who were skilled dancers that required barre exercises that developed slowly in complexity and speed, and center combinations that were choreographed like short dances. The classes always ended at performance level with dancers flying and turning across the floor with dazzling speed and expertise.
Today, I no longer teach advanced professionals. Instead, at The Ailey Extension (and around the world with my streaming videos and DVDs) my focus is on teaching amateur adult beginners.
Because most of these adults are non-dancing professionals (doctors, lawyers, administrators, office workers) moving forward for them happens slowly. But steadily.
My personal challenge each day is to continue moving forward by thinking backwards – distilling ballet technique to its most simple and learnable elements so that regardless of a person’s age, anatomy, background, or aptitude, it is possible to learn how to stand and move with balance, strength, and grace.
As I watch my “adult babies” learn each exercise with childlike wonder and practice each exercise with rapt concentration, they reaffirm my deep belief that the art of ballet teaches one not only how to dance, but, more importantly, how to continue moving forward in the journey that is life.