Live On Pointe

Saturday, April 26, 2014

FAQ: How Have I Improved so fast?

A lot of people have been asking me how I have improved so fast, having only danced 1 1/2 years.  This is actually a very interesting question.  Many people have said it seems impossible to have improved as quickly as I have, and I absolutely agree!  

I think there are several factors that helped me pick everything back up as quickly as I have.  First of all, I had a solid foundation when I was young.  I was very young, but it still helped to have the foundation of ballet in my muscle memory when I was coming back.  During the years that I wasn’t dancing, I still kept the artistic part of my brain alive, through other forms of art.  I started playing piano, and had time to draw, sing, sculpt, and write two novels.  Keeping the artistic side of my brain active was a huge part of being able to come back to ballet so quickly.

The Riggs Institute has an interesting article on the young child’s ability to learn.  A quote from this article is applicable to my rapid improvement upon coming back to dance: 

"Once a child has learned an instrument, he or she can stop playing, then pick up the instrument 20 years later and do much better than an adult just starting out."  

This quote also applies to other skills that a child may learn, including dancing.  You can read the whole article here:

Picking up piano had a huge impact on my ability to hear the music, and adapt to unusual rhythms while dancing.  The National Institute of Health says:
“...musicians offer an excellent human model for studying the brain effects of acquiring specialized sensorimotor skills.  We argue that training of this neural network may produce cross-modal effects on other behavioral or cognitive operations that draw on this network. This may explain some of the sensorimotor and cognitive enhancements that have been associated with music training.”
This quote explains how learning piano in my years off may have enhanced my ability to re-learn ballet so quickly.  You can read the rest of the article here:

It was very hard to come back to dance after a severe concussion, with no muscle left thanks to Anorexia. I had digested some of my heart and lung muscles, so those were the first things I had to build back, before I could even think about building a dancer’s body.  My teacher thought I was a hunchback when I first started dancing again, because my body had absorbed all my back muscles when I was Anorexic... I couldn’t even stand straight!

I still have days where I look in the mirror and can only see how far I have to go, not how far I have come.  Looking back on the past year and a half, it is truly a miracle how far I have come in such little time.  Just two and a half years ago, I was one meal away from being rushed to the hospital.  For four years, I dreamt about dancing almost every night, and always woke up crying.  I still have an overwhelming amount of work to do, but I am so grateful to have improved as quickly as I have, and so honored to be able to inspire people!

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!  Happy Spring!

Clarissa May

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