10 Quotes From A Professional Ballerina About Practice, Artistry, Freedom, and Perfection

Will you please bear with me for a second while I get this out of my system? I’m sorry in advance. (But not sorry enough to stop myself from doing it.)

I can almost guarantee you won’t regret hitting “plié” on this episode.

This week’s guest isn’t the arabesque; She’s the ara-BEST.

The insights about practice you’re about to hear are right on pointe.

If this episode of Practice First isn’t the best thing since Swan Lake, then I don’t know what is.

Okay, thank you. In all seriousness, we’ve got a new episode of the Practice First podcast for you this week that I personally loved listening to. Practice First host, Ben, recently had the chance to pick the brain of professional ballerina and all-around delightful human, Jessy Dick! 

Meet Jessy

Jessy is part of The Washington Ballet company and has literally been doing pirouettes since she could walk. She’s exceedingly talented at ballet and well-versed in practice, so this conversation is fun and full of fresh ideas. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did.

The Overview

In this episode, Jessy dances us through the following truths about practice:

  • Practice fuels freedom in not just ballet, but all of our jobs
  • When we teach or coach someone else, we’re experience next-level practice ourselves
  • Even the best-of the-best ballerinas are constantly honing their skills 
  • Performing artists—like dancers—don’t always have their mojo, but practice lets them shine regardless 

10 Quotes I’m Taking With Me

Confession: I was typing as fast as I know how to type as I was listening to Jessy’s episode because she’s wise. While she might be talking about ballet, I’d argue that she’s talking about a whole lot more. Here are ten of my favorite quotes from her that I’m tucking away and saving for later.

Why Practice Requires Intentionality

1. “My practice is honed into my body and musculature, and it’s very thoughtful.” Practice was not meant to be haphazard or random. The best results come when it’s intentional, whether we’re in a tutu or a home office.

2. “In order to get to the stage part of everything, you have to have the fundamentals so ingrained in your body so that when you’re on stage, you don’t have to think about it anymore.” Practice makes it so our muscle memory does the talking (or dancing).

Why Practice Inspires Growth

3. “One aspect of personal growth, along with artistic growth, that’s changing for me is that I feel my maturity is different now. I can apply a correction now that I couldn’t when I was 12.” Man, may we all be better at accepting and applying corrections from people who care about us and are rooting for our success.

4. “Practice allows you to find freedom in ballet so artistry can take over.” I’d argue it helps us find freedom in more than just ballet. When the basics of a skill are fully rehearsed and refined, there’s freedom to explore, take risks, and grow. 

Why Practice Needs a Good Foundation

5. “Teaching allows you to practice in a different way. You have to know fundamentals so well.” This one speaks for itself. Helping others practice requires an incredible understanding of the fundamentals yourself first.

6. “You have to be intelligent with your practice because over-practicing the wrong way is just as detrimental as not practicing.” Again, muscle memory. It’s a double-edged sword.

Why Practice Requires Feedback

7. “A good coach is able to give you the right cues and even visuals to know how to take an exercise to the next level.” Getting feedback is an essential part of practice. Find someone you trust who’s great at something you want to be great at, and take their cues.

8. “You have to accept criticism and corrections because that’s how you get better.” There’s no room for defensiveness in ballet practice. Jessy even says she appreciates a correction because sometimes a coach or instructor can see something she can’t even feel.

Why Practice Frees Ballerinas (and all of us)

9. “Even at the highest level, there’s no such thing as perfection at every single moment of every single dance.” There’s so much freedom and comfort in the fact that even the best-of-the-best ballerinas, the professionals of the professionals, still see their dancing as a work in progress.

10. “With ballet dancers, no matter how much you practice, it’ll never be perfect, but that’s the beauty in it.” Jessy says it best. It’s impossible to do ballet, work, or life perfectly. And that’s the beauty of it all. 

To learn more about Jessy, you can follow her on Instagram @jessydeee_ or follow her ballet company, The Washington Ballet, at @thewashingtonballet.

Before you go…

One final thing—Did you learn something from this episode with Jessy? Or do you know someone who would add to the Practice First conversation and make a great guest on our podcast? We’d love to chat with you! Connect with us on social media (Conner Burt or Ben Battaglia) or shoot us an email at practice@lessonly.com to get the conversation started. It would make our day!


Practice First is produced by Lessonly 💛

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