Sheena Jeffers, 32, tells why landing a soaring grand jeté or a triple pirouette is as transcendent as it gets.
A ballerina finds her groove and just keeps going
You have to move with both sharp speed and elegant slowness in ballet. It’s a full-body workout that demands flexibility and strength. You are constantly pulling up through your core to maintain proper posture even as your muscles burn. You’re sweating. Your heart is pounding. And yet your mind empties as you embody the intricate combinations. When you’re completely in the moment, it’s as if you’re flying. I started dancing at 5 years old and have never stopped. I trained in ballet, modern, jazz, and tap but always stayed with ballet because it was the most physically and mentally challenging for me. I studied en pointe for 10 years but was never the textbook ballerina: My feet, ankles, spine, and hips weren’t flexible enough. I was never able to get my splits in second position. But I kept coming back to the barre with determination. During graduate school, while getting my master’s degree in dance education, I fell in love with contemporary ballet. Because it blends modern expression with classical technique, it allows for a breath of innovative artistry. I started to enjoy ballet purely for the art of it, the flow, the momentum, the beauty. Now, as a wellness coach, I incorporate movement—dance and yoga— into my practice. I am also traveling the world, learning about how dance weaves through different cultures. Wherever I go, I find drop-in ballet classes, and I hope to be at the barre even when I’m 95 years old.
You don’t have to be the perfect ballerina to feel the joy or the beauty in the struggle.
BALLET BASICS I love Yumiko leotards (Alicia Mesh style, shown, $107, yumiko.com) because they are uniquely designed and make you feel feminine and athletic. I also wear Bloch Zenith ballet shoes ($27, us.blochworld.com)— they stretch really nicely over my feet and hug my arches.