Interview with an Adult Ballet Student: Kimberly Nichole Johnson
Welcome to the second installment in our Interview with an Adult Ballet Dancer series! This series will follow adult students of all types and ages who dance as adults, and aren’t necessarily reaching for a professional career in dance. Pointe Perfect knows that most ballet students aren’t dancing with the intent to go professional, so we want to put a spotlight on the dedicated students who find themselves at the barre week in and week out because it COMPLETES them.
We are so excited to introduce you to Kimberly Nichole Johnson! Kimberly is sweet, dedicated and very inspirational. Please enjoy this Interview with an Adult Ballet Dancer: Kimberly.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself! Are you in school? What do you do for a living?
My name is Kimberly Nichole Johnson and I am 35 years old. I grew up in Seattle Wa. but currently live in Nampa Id. I spend my days teaching violin and viola lessons and am also a certified barre fitness instructor and health coach.
Q: What made you decide to pursue ballet, and how old were you when you started?
As a child my mom took me to the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker nearly every holiday season. Like many little girls I loved dressing up in tutus and creating choreography with friends. I loved dancing but ended up devoting myself to Suzuki violin lessons for the years to follow. I took a few casual classes in a recreational center setting in my early 20’s but ballet was not something I thought I would pursue. Then I grew up and had my daughter. She started dance at three and I was immersed in the culture of an academy and company. I immediately fell in love with the balance of beauty and strength I witnessed in the company dancers. I decided to start as an adult and train with passion and never looked back.
Q: How long have you been dancing?
In late 2013 and early 2014 I dabbled in dance for a bit but only with online classes and videos. I decided to take it seriously and start taking academy classes in an adult division in 2015.
Q: What did you expect before you started your first class? How does that compare to your daily expectations now?
I was terrified. I knew only what I had seen peeking in the door at the academy. I had no understanding of the attention to detail and technique that goes into what dancers do. To the untrained eye it appears effortless, pure grace. But there is a lot to think about and I was completely overwhelmed. Now I try to focus on one thing at a time and not look to far ahead. When I enter a studio I expect to be challenged. Good things take time and dedication. It wont happen overnight, but I celebrate when I do succeed.
Q: What are your current ballet goals?
My current goals are to improve balance when transferring weight or executing turns, continuing to build foot strength for pointe work and improving coordination in center.
Q: What do you struggle with the most in class, and how do you deal with frustration?
My biggest frustration is definitely combinations in center. The memory and coordination required is a huge challenge. I have always been active so the strength and flexibility at the barre was something that came easier than the artistry and musicality required in center. I have three kids and I use so much mental energy taking care of them and remembering all their activities and obligations. Ballet has been amazing for my memory and mental clarity. Even if I feel frustrated or overwhelmed I try to make a mental note of the combinations and write them down as soon as possible. When I get home I like to run through them again when I have time.
Q: Do you take any other styles of dance? How does ballet help you with other forms of dance?
I don’t regularly take other forms of dance. I have tried tap but it was a really tricky transition going from a firm pointed foot to flat “floppy” foot. I would love to take some contemporary/modern classes.
Q: What is your biggest achievement thus far?
My biggest achievement has definitely been overcoming anxiety and insomnia. I struggled with it for years and felt completely trapped. I finally was tested and they discovered I had a hormone imbalance. I was able to change the way I workout and overhaul my nutrition to find relief. Ballet has been my therapy as I have faced this challenge!
Q: Do you cross train outside the studio or practice at home? What’s your routine?
As far as other workouts I teach barre fitness which incorporates barre, yoga and Pilates. I love yoga! I try to walk on Sundays (weather permitting) for 60 minutes with weights to help with cardio. I used to be a cardio junky and ran a ton but gave that up to dance. Running was taxing my joints and my adrenals which was contributing to the hormone issues I was dealing with. Generally I do 1-2 hours of ballet 4 days a week and also yoga, Pilates or barre for 50 minutes 2-3 days a week. There’s an overlap on the days I teach so I have to eat well and get a lot of rest to keep up.
Q: Tell me about your studio family! Who has been your biggest inspiration in your dance journey? I attend the Ballet Idaho Academy adult division. I absolutely love that they give so much attention to detail and technique for the adults as well as the children’s division. They have professional company dancers teaching the classes so they are always informative and helpful. It is a beautiful community. Ballet Idaho is unique in that the students in the children’s division have an opportunity to dance in professional productions with company dancers. Even in the adult classes there is a high standard of professionalism. Everyone there has a great respect for the art and are serious about learning and improving.
Q: What advice would you give to other adults considering starting ballet?
Go for it! It is an amazing art form and good for every aspect of your being. Fusing grace and strength, athleticism and artistry, it is truly unique. Make a goal and hit class as often as you can. Also, a lot of my learning took place after class when I would review. So if at all possible go over what you learned in class while it is fresh in your mind. Most importantly find a studio you feel comfortable with. It is great to find a teacher you connect with and who will give you the corrections you need. Corrections are a good thing so welcome them!
Q: Do you have any other inspiration or words of wisdom to share?
Don’t give up. When you feel discouraged push harder, that just means you are close to a breakthrough! There will always be someone better than you but that is not important. Remember your goal is to be better than you were yesterday. Happy dancing.
Q: Do you have a blog, Instagram or website we can follow?
Kimberly’s Fitness Studio Pages:
Kimberly also attends classes at Ballet Idaho!