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The Silent Killer of Technique: How Bullying Stifles Growth in Ballet

Updated: 6 days ago

No to bullying dancers

Ballet, with its demanding physicality and emphasis on precision, can be a challenging yet rewarding pursuit. However, a hidden obstacle often stands in the way of a dancer's technical development: bullying within the classroom. This article explores how bullying, both verbal and nonverbal, can hinder a student's ability to learn and grow in ballet.

One personal experience illustrates this point perfectly. As a young dancer, I faced bullying firsthand. The fear of judgment and exclusion manifested in various ways. Simple combinations became muddled as anxiety took hold, leaving me blanking out on steps. Retreating to the back of the class became a defense mechanism, hoping to escape the watchful (and sometimes, disapproving) eyes. 

On particularly bad days, tears would well up, leading me to leave classroom altogether. This fear wasn't always triggered by verbal taunts. A pointed look or a dismissive laugh could be enough to send my confidence plummeting and my technique crumbling.

The silence surrounding this issue allows it to fester. Studies by the National Bullying Prevention Center ( highlight the detrimental effects of bullying on mental health, including anxiety and depression. Both of which I have battled with my entire dance life. These conditions can significantly hinder a dancer's ability to focus, retain choreography, and push their physical boundaries – essential aspects of technical growth.

The bullies themselves, more often than not, are grappling with their own insecurities. Research by Catherine Bradshaw et al. (2013) suggests that bullies often act out due to underlying issues like low self-esteem or social anxieties. Unfortunately, their insecurities manifest as attacks on others, creating a hostile environment that impedes everyone's learning.

Do not be a dance bully- bullied ballerinas

Here's the truth many dancers struggling with bullies might not realize: the bullies often don't remain in the dance world.  The intense dedication and perseverance required for a professional dance career often weed out these individuals.

This brings me to why I'm now a coach, cross-trainer, and mentor for young dancers.  I want you to understand – you possess something those bullies may envy, your talent, your spirit, and dedication. If you let it happen, the bullying will stifle your ballet growth. You can control this though.

You deserve to be in that dance room, and your passion is worth protecting. I do not care how BAD you think you look because there is always room for growth with the right program.

Don't let their negativity dim your light.  Focus on your own progress. If the environment you're in isn't nurturing your growth, consider finding a new studio or practice space. Speak up to a trusted teacher or parent about the situation.

Remember, this experience doesn't define you.  

My story, along with my friend's, explores this further in our latest YouTube video. We want to show you that you're not alone. Keep dancing, keep growing, and never look back.

Let's create a more positive and supportive space for dancers of all levels to thrive.

With much love,

Veronica K

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