Receiving Corrections: Just Eat ’em Up

We all want to get better at ballet, don’t we? If you don’t, I would suggest choosing a different path for life. Ballet is an art (and a sport) of constant improvement. Even the dancers at the top are constantly trying to improve. Improvement comes through a lot of practice and hard work – not only working in the studio, but doing everything you can outside the studio as well. However, even if you are the hardest worker inside and outside of class, your progress will be slow if you don’t grasp one concept: apply corrections.

Corrections are my greatest tool for improvement. During my first year dancing with Ballet West Academy I received more corrections than I can count. I am naturally a steady-headed person when it comes to corrections, so the teachers didn’t hold back. I applied the corrections to the best of my ability and by the end of the year I had improved tenfold. From my improvement I learned how important it was to apply corrections and be in the mindset to receive them in large quantities. Here are some myths that will hold you back from using corrections to fuel your progress.

Myth #1: If you receive corrections, it means you are a bad dancer.

This is an important myth to bust. Everyone receives corrections, even the pros. If you receive corrections it means the teachers see potential. They are trying to help you to improve, not trying to criticize you. When you receive a correction, instead of thinking, “Crap I made a mistake, I’m doing bad,” you need to think, “The teacher sees a place I can improve, and believes I can do it.”

Myth #2: If a teacher is hounding me with corrections, he/she hates me.

I don’t even know how people think this way, but I have heard some dancers say: “Oh that teacher hates me,” when later in class the teacher gives them the most corrections out of everyone. To break this myth I will just say simply if you are receiving the most corrections, you are the teacher’s favorite.

Now we’ve busted these damaging myths, here is the mindset to replace them: receiving corrections IS GOOD; it means the teacher sees potential, and when you receive more corrections out of anyone in the class, it means the teacher thinks you have the MOST potential.

This happened to me at the Houston audition. I was receiving at least 80% of the corrections and throughout the whole barre the teacher was breathing down my neck. Yes it was scary, but it also felt extremely good. Getting used to that feeling and liking that mindset can take a while, but eventually you start to crave it.

I don’t know how else to put this: get out of those negative mindsets surrounding corrections. They will do you no good whatsoever. If you start to break down every time you get a correction, the teacher won’t want to help you. Sometimes you have a bad day and can’t help breaking down. I’ve had several of those days. But, in general, both you and the teacher will be happier if you get into the willing-to-apply mindset. Even if you don’t break down, if you don’t apply corrections he/she will not want to correct you.

I have changed my mindset by just accepting a couple facts. 1) The teacher is always right – even if sometimes he/she contradicts what another teacher taught you; in the class, his/her word is law. 2) Nothing good comes from breaking down – to be honest, it’s really embarrassing for everyone to break down in class. 3) If I apply, I improve. Simple as that.

Above all else, remember receiving corrections will help you in your ballet career. I cannot stress it enough. Corrections are so, so, SO important. If you learn to have the correct mindset about them, they will boost your progression into high gear.

By Kai