The Story of Sharing the Barre
If you asked someone on the street what is dance, they would answer: Ballet. Most likely the cause for this association is due to Ballet being the first formalized dance genre, even though other styles came before it.
There are many benefits of ballet, which include making dancers’ muscles strong and providing us with the core tools that are transferable to our other genres. Yet, this form of dance demands a certain look, which many of us do not fit into, no matter how hard we try. This in turn creates friction in our studies of the craft of dance, resulting in a lack of confidence and not being kind to ourselves.
For me a ballet barre was a sign of never being able to obtain my dream of becoming a professional dancer. Dance has always made me feel alive and is a great passion of mine. However, along my journey, I lost sight of that passion.
Around middle school, I stopped having fun in class and instead started noticing all my differences. I would stand at the barre, holding back tears, pushing my legs to obtain the perfect turnout. Though this would never be possible no matter how hard I tried, as I was not born with natural turnout. In my head I thought, if I just worked hard enough and pushed myself, I could be like the other girls. On top of not possessing natural turnout, I did not have natural flexibility. While sitting in our splits, I would notice all the other girls relaxing on the floor, while I shook on my hands. Every day in class, I would judge myself and tell myself that I was not good enough. The ballet barre quickly became my sole measure of whether I was a good dancer or not.
It wasn't until one of my dance teachers helped me find my voice through dance that I was put back on a positive track. After events in my life made me passionate about social justice, we started choreographing my competition solos to address those issues I wanted to highlight. After creating and performing these pieces and realizing the connection I was making with others, I started to realize that the ballet barre no longer defined me as a dancer. Even though I wasn’t going to be a professional ballerina and would never possess the ideal ballerina look, I could still be a great dancer and use dance as a medium for change.
At first, I had trouble going back to the ballet barre, but I developed a new positive mantra. This mantra was that the barre is not my barrier, but rather a tool that can still help me grow as a dancer. With my hand on the barre I told myself that it is OK that you don’t look like the other girls, focus on your own movement, and do not judge yourself for things you simply cannot control. Just be. By developing this new positive outlook, I started to regained my confidence and passion for dance.
This renewed passion prompted me to audition for a big entertainment company. While at this audition, I learned something that would help me grow as a dancer. The auditioner explained that the most important thing is to have fun, allow yourself to be inspired by other people, and don't hold back. For something that was so simple, it made such a big impact. All these years, I was so focused on pushing myself to be equal to the girls around me, that I wasn’t allowing myself to be inspired by them or to embrace my own flare. I was breaking myself down and putting myself in a box. Why do we dancers do that?
Following the audition, I ended up being cast by that big entertainment company. I worked alongside inspiring dancers that pushed me to be a better dancer, but in a healthy way – placing an emphasis of just letting go and having fun; not worrying what others think or how you level up. By having a positive mentality, I have witnessed my dance ability grow exponentially.
Now as I see young dancers struggling with finding their self-confidence and loving their bodies, it has become my mission to figure out a way to stop dancers from tearing themselves down but rather start building themselves up. I wanted to create a community where we could empower ourselves and empower each other. I decided to create a product that both created this community, but also made you feel great wearing it.
Although Sharing the Barre has molded and shifted from its first inception to now, one thing has never changed; the drive to empower the dancer to be their best self and accept who they. While playing with names I thought back to my experience with the ballet barre and how ballet is the icon of dance. Through my experiences I have realized that a ballet barre does not define you, you define yourself. That is why I picked Sharing the Barre. We are making room on the barre for positivity, acceptance, love, and diversity. We recognize that although ballet is the backbone of dance, we share the barre with all styles and training. No matter what your ability is, what you look like, or where you are from, you will be accepted at the barre.
Will you help us share the barre?