Welcome to Barre None, my new video blog exclusively on Huffington Post. I'm Sara Mearns and I hope to be your tour guide into the world of classical ballet. You might ask yourself, "Why a video blog that goes behind the scenes of a classical ballet dancer's daily life?" Because what you see on the stage does not begin to capture what ballet or our lives are all about. You see the performance, but what you don't see -- the rehearsals, the costume designs, the frazzled nerves, the learning of a new ballet, the constant travels around the world, the injuries and the oftentimes long, painful road to recovery that lead us to wonder if this is the injury that can end a career -- it's all a part of what we do and who we are.
I'm only one dancer, but I hope that by giving you a window into my life as a principal ballerina at New York City Ballet, a door will be opened to more interest, curiosity, and enthusiasm for this artform that I, and so many others, love and work so hard for. So come on in, pull up a seat, and join me every Friday. You'll have a great time. I promise. Barre None.
Ballerina With A Twist
How much is too much for a ballerina to handle? This could refer to rehearsals, personal life, theater life, relationships, family, public apprearences, performing, body health, and even hair styles. I wish I had the answer to this question and I also wish that I could see the warning signs of when it is getting to be too much for me.
When I signed up for this job ten years ago, I never thought I would be in the position I am today. It excites me everyday but also scares the crap out of me. When I returned to the stage in January after an injury, I knew it was going to be a roller coaster ride for next six to twelve months. However, I never anticipated I would experience the most exciting time in my life. I want to experience everything and be at everyone's disposal creatively, publicly, and inspirationally. I don't want there to be any boundaries I can't break or any heights I can't reach. I want to chart my own path and I also want to have input on every project. That said, I have to also know when to draw the line and to recognize when it is too much.
I have been scheduling my days and nights in a way that I am completely submerged in the cultural life that is New York. I feel it is my duty to do so but it's also hard sometimes to keep up this pace. My focus gets lost and I don't concentrate on the right things, such as my dancing and my body. Don't get me wrong, my body is the first thing on my mind when I wake up and the last thing on my mind before I go to bed. But what about in between? Have I left myself enough breathing room? Have I given myself time to just chill out and not be on the go mentally as well as physically? The answer is generally no. I get so wrapped up in the excitement of my new ventures and in my future that I start to neglect the here and now. A year ago, this is what got me into trouble: I lost my direction -- which was right in front of me -- because I was so focused on the three to six months ahead of me. These past few days have been a rough lesson for me both mentally and emotionally. I basically crashed. I think there was so much hype and excitement about my return to the stage -- which hasn't really died down -- that I got caught up in the storm. I started second guessing my dancing and asked myself if my technique and presence on stage was what everyone was expecting when this should have been the last thing on my mind.
I believe this goes for anyone in an artistic profession: you must allow time for your body and soul to recover. You must give it breathing room. The excitement and anticipation will all be there when you awake and maybe even more so. Your artform can sometimes take the best of you and swirl it into a hurricane and your job is to keep that hurricane at a Category 1. Anything more and your life spins out of control.
This week's vlog feels more like a diary entry but in a way, it might help you better understand where I'm coming from and help you avoid certain pitfalls yourself. Everyday life is a struggle, everyday life is beautiful and we must not take it for granted. I may not have danced today but my desire to get back in the studio tomorrow is overwhelming and I'm bursting at the seams. That's when I am happiest.
On a side note, I hope you will learn how to do the easiest French twist in the world by watching my video this week. Stay tuned for more helpful hints and don't forget to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Check out last week's video blog here.
You can find Sara Mearns on twitter here: @nycbstar2b.