21st April 2021

Ballet And Discipline

“One, two, three, four…stretch your knees, point your toes!” said the instructor at the Paris Opera Ballet School.

The Paris Opera Ballet School is one of the best ballet schools in the world and its focus goes far beyond the technical aspects of ballet.  It teaches you about all aspects of life. Everything it teaches, including discipline, is at the elite level. Thinking back, my time at the school clearly made me who I am today.

At school, everything had to be perfect and teachers were paying attention to every detail. There was no room for mistakes; no dangling strand of thread from point shoes, delicate make-up only. No hanging hair allowed – I had to use a ton of hairspray! Nothing was left uncontrolled or unprepared.

When people see how much sacrifice and pain children training in professional ballet go through, they may wonder why parents invest so much time and money in their child’s dance training. But, training in ballet on a professional level gives you training for life!

It teaches you discipline and discipline is one of the essential ingredients of a successful life.

It is very difficult to talk about an elite ballet school without mentioning competition; one goes hand in hand with the other. From age nine, I had yearly dance exams that determined whether I would be able to stay for the next year. Every year students worry about whether or not they will pass. There are a limited number of places each year, so it’s not enough just to be good, you have to be the best. This competition makes it really difficult to build trust or any kind of friendship with members of your class – and girls can be mean! Yes, all the stories about students sabotaging each other, putting glass in the pointe shoes or pre-cutting your shoelaces so they break at the last moment, it’s all true! The competition is always on.

It wasn’t enough to just be a good dancer to be selected for the next year. You also had to be great at “normal” school.

We also had to study the same French, Mathematics, Geography, History, etc, that other French children learned.  Traditional school children have a full eight hours to cover the program but we only had four hours a day. And here’s where discipline comes back. Children who grow up dancing must master time management.  We had to use our time for homework in a very strategic and productive way. We acquired skills in balancing, prioritizing, multitasking and making sacrifices. Our education would have been incomplete had we not learned discipline.

Being part of a school like the Paris Opera Ballet School builds your confidence quickly. When you are 10 years old and you need to perform on one of the oldest and biggest stages in the world, in front of thousands of people who have paid a high price for their tickets, you better be sure and have the conviction of what you are doing! Knowing your choreography and where you are entering from are just a few aspects. Not to mention you are also sharing the stage with the biggest stars of the moment! Confidence is a must.

A disciplined lifestyle will help you prevent injuries and suffering.  You obviously can’t go through years of professional dance training without muscle pain and possible injuries. Ballet is such a strict and rigorous way of dance. It goes against every single anatomy and gravity rule.  Like the proverb says “No Pain, No Gain!” Taking vitamins, applying creams, icing or heating, are all just little daily actions that will help your body to last longer and with less pain.

Taking care of your body and having the self-discipline to go to bed early enough to help your body rest and recover is also extremely important.

When I was young and living by myself in the dorms of the ballet school, no one was there to remind or push me to take care of myself, I just had to do it!

Anybody who has tried to be disciplined at some point in his or her life knows how tough it is. When you know a disciplined person you tend to respect them. If you are disciplined, you will gain respect from others.  Others may see your self-discipline and consider you an example for their own lives.

After all the years of training, discipline is just part of me! I apply it every day and I’ve found that it has played a key role in my journey towards success.

Contrary to common belief, self-discipline does not mean being severe towards yourself or living a limited, restrictive lifestyle.  Self-discipline gives you the power to stick to your decisions and follow them through without changing your mind, and therefore, is one of the major requirements for reaching goals.

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Laetitia Bouffard started ballet at age 3. At age 9, she was selected out of hundreds of candidates to attend the Paris Opera Ballet School. Laetitia studied there for 5 years and then completed 2 years at the Conservatoire national supérieur musique et danse in Lyon where she graduated with a Diploma of Dance & and Choreography. Laetitia has performed with Europa-Danse in Paris, National Ballet of Nancy (France), National Baltic Opera in Gdansk (Poland) and won the "Grand Prix" at International Ballet Competition in Caen (France). After many years of ballet, Laetitia decided it was time to take her career to another level, adding ground and aerial acrobatics to her skills. Laetitia learned acrobatic lifts, aerial silks, aerial hoop, aerial straps, net and web. She won Bronze medals at Worldwide Festival du Cirque de Demain in Paris and at the Wuqiao International Circus Festival in China. Laetitia has performed on TV in Norway, Turkey, Canada, France, Italy, Poland and China. She has performed at special events for clients such as Porsche, Audi, British Airways, Volvo, Volkswagen and Dom Perignon. Her shows include appearances at Palazzo Mannheim Germany, Calgary Stampede Canada, Krystallpalast Germany, Benidorm Palace Spain, Europa-Park Germany, Crazy Palace Germany, Alexander Kunz Theater Germany, GOP Munich Germany and on many Cruise Lines around the world. She is also a Registered Yoga Teacher by Yoga Alliance USA and a Personal Fitness Trainer recognized by Europe Active Association. Laetitia credits a huge part of her success to dedication, discipline, commitment, relationships, yoga, proper nutrition, trust and travel, elements she focuses on and practices in her daily life.

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