The easy way.

“Our bodies naturally want to take the easy route. It’s part of our human nature. You have to fight this.”

Jilissa was talking about the horrible habit that can plague us dancers of stepping out of our turn-out during a combination. I’ve seen it when doing a glissade into anything. I’ll land the glissade in fifth, then the front foot will turn in before going into the next step. It’s horrible technique, it doesn’t do anything for you, and it looks terrible. But something in our thinking tells us that it’ll help us remain stable or whatever, instead of pushing into the floor while extending and shooting energy out from our fingers, head, and toes.

But isn’t that just like us? We want to take the easy route instead of working hard for what we want. We compromise and end up settling instead of sticking it out and fighting for what we know is right.

Rise up.
Stick it out.
Fight.

It’s. so. worth. it.

Toughen up.

I’ve been having issues with my pointe shoes, which has turned into quite the process. So when I couldn’t take it anymore, I found the first Saturday I had open, text my friend Sarah from class, and planned a road trip to San Antonio to see about a remedy.
I liked the shoes I have, but I couldn’t do a darn thing on my right foot because the pain in the big toe was immense. It’s kinda obvious that if you’re going to be dancing on your toes, they’re probably going to hurt, but this was unavoidable. It wasn’t something you could ignore and get through, not without more severe injury. So Sarah and I trekked up to Dorothy’s, to have the pointe shoe fitter man help me out. I ended up keeping the same shoe, so that’s good. I really do like them, I just didn’t know what was causing this. I did get the next size up, though, which is minuscule, but makes a big difference. I wanted to ask him what he thought since he was concerned about the left toe last time I went in. This time he told me, “Just get over it.” Which could have made me really mad, since it made me sound like I’m a wuss. I’m not a wuss. I actually have a really high pain tolerance, but since I’ve been sick I’ve had to make myself stop and look into things I would normally trudge through, even though that is frustrating beyond reason for me. I just brushed it off and knew when Monday came that I would just need to fight through it and know that the pro told me not to worry about it, so it wasn’t something I needed to worry about.
Monday’s class was great, although I’m rather behind since I’m just now able to do things the way they’re supposed to be done. I have to re-train myself and learn all the little details I could never attain before. Yesterday’s class was even better. Still have some things to work through, but each class I learn a little more and am able to press my limits further.

Apparently I’m not putting my weight in the right place, because I kept falling backwards in releve passe when that right foot was on releve. Jilissa pointed it out and showed me where I’m supposed to be. I think I stand a little arched, so this throws off my balance when it comes to dance. I need to straighten out, taking me forward a little more which in turn makes all the difference. As we discussed it, I mentioned my right toe being the one that gives me issues, and that I’m still trying to work through it. The was Jilissa worded it was similar to the pointe shoe fitter man: “You’re gonna have to get over it.” I wanted to explain that I was aware of this, that I’m not a wuss, that I’m actually very determined which gets me in trouble so I have to make myself be more cautious. That it’s like my hyper extension–I can have perfect ballet leg lines, but if I go too far, it hurts my knees, so I almost have to err on the side of caution until I find the balance. (I also pushed my extension too far yesterday and ended up hurting my knees. Side note, I think I’m starting to get some feeling back where the nerve damage was. Not sure why. It’s a really weird feeling.)

Jilissa made a point; no matter where we go in life, what kind of a role ballet plays in our story, we will be better women for it. It’ll make you stronger, not just physically, but mentally, too. You’ll find yourself enduring pain that most people would find debilitating, and most doctors find alarming.

It’s already made me toughen up. For one, I’m not letting myself get upset for people making comments that could easily be interpreted as calling me weak or a wuss or whatever. But you know what, instead of getting upset about it, I’m gonna take it as a challenge. I’m gonna push myself so hard that they have to notice the improvement. Even if they never say a word, if she corrects me in class, I’ll know I’m doing something. She sees something in me to make it worth offering me improvements.

I will be stronger.
I will fight.
I will endure.
I will be tough.

No more of the labels placed on me as a kid that I am weak emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. If people only knew what I’d been through, they’d change their tune. Does that mean I stop trying to be better? Not at all. It means I push harder. Do people have to understand for it to be worth it? Nope. If they don’t want to see my full story, that’s not my fault and shouldn’t affect me. I should just keep going and keep pressing on. I should find my inspiration where I do and use it to fuel the fire.

I will be tough.

Little milestones.

So, this may not seem like much to anyone else, but to me it was significant enough to make a blog post.

Jilissa was out of town on Monday, so we had McKenna subbing. I ended up having to go home early on Thursday due to unknown illness (no, not contagious.) and Monday I wasn’t much better. Not to mention that I’m going Saturday to try and find better pointe shoes. (These are the best I’ve had, but the toe really limits me.) I just took my pointe shoes off and decided to focus on what I’m already good at and improving on those things rather than try and challenge myself with more that takes away from those.
We were doing a decage combination in the center with arms that switched. It usually would throw me off, but I think this time it actually started to make sense. Usually I can’t grasp why this arm goes with that move, and why it seemed different, so I would just struggle through the combination and move on. But this time, I saw that this was the only arm that was different and it made sense.
I guess I was able to better excecute the arms, because McKenna even said, “Good arms, Emilee!”
This made me really happy, even though I completely flubbed them after she said that. Arms are something I’ve really been trying to grasp and improve on. I can’t always ask for clarification because half of it is just learning and knowing rather than being explained. But this shows me that I’m getting somewhere.

The thing about progress is that you don’t always see it happening. Progress is an act of faith; you have to believe that you’re achieving it even if you don’t see it happening. Then one day, all of a sudden, you look back and realize how far you’ve come. Progress is something that you don’t always notice happening, but if you have enough faith and hold on, you’ll reap the beautiful rewards.

Progress

Every dancer wants to make their teacher proud. To do something that makes them yell, “YES!” or other various things. I tend to go unnoticed by my teacher, which I take as a good sign, because if I do something wrong she does tell me. I try not to worry about where her attention goes and just work hard on doing the best I know how to do; to work hard enough that she has to notice.
I’m not one used as the example. I’m not extremely gifted or flexible or whatever. I’m average, working hard to be the best I can. I can tear myself apart in comparisons if I wanted to, but I don’t want to–it’s not worth it.
Yesterday there were only 5 of us in the advanced class. Since two of the girls were missing from the recital piece, she only ran it twice to help the girls remember and then we moved on. We did a lot of things across the floor, some proving to be challenging in that they changed up the way we’re used to executing these steps. We tried anyway, doing our best–practice makes progress. We got to this one part where we did tombe pas de bourree, glissade, saut de chat, contre tout, tombe pas de bourree, glissade, saut de chat, contre tout, tombe pas de bourree, glissade, assemble, fire bird, step, step, fourth releve and hold.
Well, my friend I was going with apparently wasn’t ready for it, and when the music started, she hesitated and I went anyway. Instead of freaking out by the fact I was going alone, I guess I had a moment of determination. I was going to do that darn fire bird whether it looked ridiculous or not. After I got to the first glissade, I could hear Jilissa yelling, “Good! Keep going!” and other encouragements as I took on the combination by myself–in the first group, I might add. I had no one before me to watch to see the correct way to do it or solidify the sequence–I just went for it.
Sure, I still can’t do a darn fire bird, but part of that comes from needing strength still.
But, I think it showed growth to my teacher; the fact that I went for it anyway. She was proud of me, I could tell, and that means the world.