25 life lessons I learned from ballet - #13
Beyond the arabesques and grand jetés, ballet is an abundant source of priceless life lessons. With the rigorous training and intense discipline it requires, ballet can teach one how to deal with pressure, disappointments, challenges, and ultimately, success. On her 25th anniversary as a professional dancer in 2009, prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde took the time to list down 25 key lessons she learned from ballet and which she felt both dancers and non-dancers can apply in their own lives. This series shares those enduring nuggets of wisdom – one lesson at a time.
By Lisa Macuja-Elizalde
13. Take risks! Whether it’s as simple as an overhead lift with an unreliable partner or a role that everyone said you should never dance – it’s important to take risks in order to determine what you can and cannot do. Otherwise, the question will remain unanswered all your life!
Top photo: Told by her mentor on several occasions that she simply was not a Swan Queen, prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde defied all the stereotyped physical attributes of the role and proved everyone wrong. Admittedly, her first Swan Lake did not soar as high as she hoped for. At a festival in Havana, Cuba in 1990, she was asked by Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso to take on the role to cover for an injured dancer. She had three days to learn the choreography and one day to rehearse on stage. Not one to back down from a challenge, she took the risk and, together with Ernesto Quenedit, she survived her first full-length Swan Lake with a standing ovation at the end of her performance. Photo from the Ballet Manila Archives collection