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February 24, 2015

What is Beauty? Part 1

photo of saint paul ballet dancers warming up

photo by Caroline Yang 

Each statement about beauty is representative of that person's unique perspective. Some statements include descriptive language about body types and body shapes. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

It's eating disorders awareness week and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Saint Paul Ballet again this year. Last year's Take Back the Tutu (part 1 and part 2) helped bring awareness to appreciating our bodies for what they can do. This year, Saint Paul Ballet is talking about how they personally define beauty. 

A message from Brittany Adams, St. Paul Ballet Company Member

Diversity within our company is at our foundation. Our differences make us stronger as a family and help define our goals and confirm our dedication to the trade. Our art is our number one priority – and presenting it genuinely without covering up any part of who we are has become our focus.

We are currently rehearsing for our March show at The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts and we are genuinely excited about our repertoire. As a company member, I am so proud of the Saint Paul Ballet dancers and students I have come to know. They have grown artistically, emotionally, and technically. We support each other and grow together. Sometimes dancing can test your relationships, and sometimes we disagree with each other, but Saint Paul Ballet is made up of some of the toughest most compassionate dancers with whom I have ever had the privilege to share a stage.

The company that launched Take Back the Tutu a year ago and the company you will see this week make me proud, but for different reasons. Last year we talked about taking ownership of our art. We did this in a number of ways: from striking "City" from Saint Paul City Ballet to putting on a season as an artist-led dance company to literally writing down how we really feel about our bodies. The company you will see this week – in our What is Beauty? posts and on stage – is comprised of a group of people who have learned and grown exponentially over the past 12 months. What I see in us this year is assuredness, honesty, and undeniable fearlessness. We have grown in to our own and we are chomping at the bit to share ourselves with you.

Last year we asked our dancers: "How do you feel about your body?" This year there was a deliberate decision to change the prompt. We have grown and we want to show you how. Body image relates to ballet in a million different ways. This year we didn't want to just Take Back the Tutu – we wanted to tell you exactly what that feels like. This year we will discuss what beauty really means to us.

We want to know: What is beauty to you? How have you changed in the last year? Have you taken back your tutu? This year, we want to inspire you to take the next step in your journey to embracing every part of you.

Preston

To me, beauty is the confidence to be one's self. It is finding what naturally comes to you, and having enough pride to recognize and trust it. In my opinion, the most beautiful people are those who know what they've got and own up to it. I believe that the ability one has to accept themselves as a legitimate representation of a beautiful human being is in itself beautiful. Once that trust is established within one's self, they show an uninhibited and truthful side that in my opinion is the most beautiful thing one can show.

Anna

When the word ballerina is mentioned, it is often associated with strength, elegance, grace, an other-worldliness, or beauty. A ballet dancer's beauty is skin deep though. As dancers, it is known that our abilities will eventually lessen. We have many years of training and hopefully a long career as a professional, but the human body eventually wears out. I think beauty is a quality that begins in the heart; whatever is inside, eventually comes out. Regardless of how physically beautiful or talented someone is, an ugly heart will always become more obvious than appearance. Beauty fades, a good soul does not. Joanna

I ultimately view beauty as pertaining to the spirit. It's about joy, peace and love that become expressed outwardly whether that's in a person, nature, animals, etc. And for me, all this comes from God. In essence, God is beauty.

Amber

Beauty to me is when a person has become a brighter light after going through struggles. You can see it in their eyes and posture. You can see it in their actions, reactions and composure. A beautiful person has lived life and found the beauty within the struggle. They've allowed themselves to be molded and have become wise through their experiences. Through all of this their true self shines through and their light is felt by those around them. This is beauty to me.

Zoe

Beauty is an ever-evolving quality. It can be recognized in many ways. One may find beauty in a body, a personality, an emotion, a voice, even an idea. Thus, beauty can be observed, sensed, felt, heard, and created. The ballerina is thought by many to be the complete embodiment of beauty. Often, a ballerina is associated with the beauty of grace, elegance, figure, and confidence. I think of beauty as the recognizable result of strength.

Beauty is the strength that is seen in every muscular movement a dancer performs; the strength that is sensed in a dancer's never-ending determination to push further every day in the studio; the strength that is felt in the grin that spreads across a dancer's face as she lands a perfect pirouette; the strength that is heard in the deep exhalations a dancer takes as she exits stage. The strength of the ballerina is what creates the magical beauty an audience anxiously anticipates as the curtain opens. The ultimate embodiment of a dancer's beauty resides in the strength she has to persevere and attain the unimaginable.

Hannah

Beauty to me is imperfection. It is recognizing that there is no ideal image and having the confidence to wear your personal image on the surface. The flaws, the unique tendencies, and the misfit puzzle pieces are all what gives someone their individuality. They are never things that should cause shame or be hidden. Having strength and being firmly grounded on these principals is when true beauty is allowed to shine through

Brittany

Beauty is simple and is a feeling. To me it is being generous and kind. It is giving yourself to your audience or giving your time to help a friend. Being genuine is an important part of this because when you fake your generosity it is felt by everyone. Beauty is hard work - it's finding that part of you that is honestly willing to do that hard work even when half of you would rather stay home.

Beauty is what I feel on stage because you can't be anything but beautiful. It is ALWAYS all or nothing when the curtain rises. It is always generous or it isn't. Honest or it isn't. The difference is 100% clear to the audience even if they don't know it. When you make them feel something it's because you gave yourself up to them on the stage - you were beautiful.

You can find more from Saint Paul Ballet this week via their FacebookTwitterblog, and Instagram. All images are by Caroline Yang. See more from Caroline on her Instagram (instagram.com/carolineyangphoto).

Watch for What is Beauty? Part 2 on Thursday.

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