Kids.

Have I mentioned how much I love summer classes?
Because I love summer classes!

They are smaller and more technical and I just feel like I learn loads more.
I feel more challenged and like I’m improving more in a shorter amount of time.
Maybe it’s all in my head, I don’t know, but I love it.

During yesterday’s class, my friend Sarah and I were paired up for a combination across the floor. It was fairly simple, except for this switch leap we had never seen before in our lives. (spare the numerous youtube and instagram videos we marvel over every day.)

But instead of freaking out and dreading the one step at the end we weren’t sure of, Sarah had an idea.
She looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Let’s pretend we’re auditioning for the National Ballet!”
Five
Six
Seven
Eight.
I didn’t really have much time to deny this request, or over think it or analyze anything. We just went out there and pretended like we were auditioning for the National Ballet (is that even a real company?)
Now during recital rehearsals, we would often half-sarcastically pretend we were performing for one place or the other to get ourselves to think about our face and expression, but this was new.
It was an audition. We had to give it our all.

Of course, that first time we screwed everything up and ended up laughing as we stood at the wall while I said between gasps, “We didn’t get picked!”

But after two or three (I can’t remember) more times doing this combination and pretending to be auditioning for this or that company, we noticed that we tried harder. We didn’t fall apart at a mistake, we didn’t drop the ending just because we completely messed it up. Instead, we held ourselves together and did our best that we are capable of.
She asked, “Didn’t you feel a difference?” between smiles and giggles about how potentially ridiculous we were appearing. (If it was anything compared to what we felt.)

Maybe kids have something going with this.
Maybe imagination is what we’re lacking.
Maybe losing our sense of wonder is what shoots our confidence.
Whose to say these things aren’t possible?
I mean, I don’t think we will ever get into a company–that’s just not realistic.
But whose to say we can’t accomplish things no one would necessarily expect a 25 and 30 year old to accomplish with such limited experience in ballet?

I’ve loved watching Sarah grow as a dancer. It is definitely encouraging to me and makes me want to get better.

And having someone to feel absolutely ridiculous with sure helps, too.

"It never really goes away"

After class yesterday, McKenna and I were sitting in the hallway when she made the comment,
“You know, with pointe, I don’t think the pain ever really goes away.”
She told me how she realized at the end of class not long ago she realized how badly her toes actually hurt, and that if she was new on pointe, it would be too much to handle; discouraging even. But somehow we learn to live with the discomfort and keep going. The pain never goes away, we just learn how to handle it.

It reminded me of grief.
I’ve known more grief in my days than most people realize, and I’ve often thought of how in the world I’m even still here.
The pain never goes away, we just learn how to handle it.

Jilissa says that ballerinas are among some of the most tolerant people when it comes to pain, that even her doctor was amazed at how much she could handle. She told us we would become stronger women for having trained in ballet.
That is how I’m still here.
That is how I still go on.
Life sucks sometimes, it throws you curve balls out of the blue, it can be really hard
But you learn how to handle it
You learn how to not let it overcome you
How to rise above the pain.

I will rise.

Break Through

Jilissa told us a story yesterday about when she was in dance class.
(I don’t know what part of her training this was during, but that fact is irrelevant.)

She had us doing a combination across the floor while making sound effects for each of the moves in the combination. She wanted us to think about the expression we use while dancing. She pointed out that you can have all the technique in the world, but if you don’t have expression, the audience won’t be impressed. She told us that she is more of a technical dancer than an expressive one, but that when she started expressing more, and trying harder and focusing on that rather than just technique, that was when she started getting compliments.

How did she finally get to that point?
She told us a story of a time when she was required to do a 10 minute improve.
I couldn’t do a 3 minute improve, let alone 10 minutes, but it was part of the class. Everyone had to do it, she was part of the “everyone.”
She told us how nervous she was at the thought of it, afraid of failing. Is there really a way to fail during improve? Not exactly, but she was afraid anyway. What if she wasn’t good enough? What if it wasn’t what they wanted? What if it was too repetitive? She told us how she was so afraid that they were going to judge her and she wasn’t going to measure up.

But so what if it’s repetitive? So what if they didn’t like it? It’s improve: I’m pretty sure what they want is to see you through movement.

She pointed out that most ballet dancers have control issues. We want so desperately to be perfect, but we never can be.
Ever.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never have perfect technique.
It’s physically impossible.
So we strive to get as close to perfection as possible, and try to cover up the flukes and flaws best we can.
She made a good point, “We have to get to the place where we aren’t insecure anymore, where we don’t care what we look like or how funny we feel or what other people’s opinions may be. If we’re constantly concerned about that, we’re only going to hinder ourselves. There has to be a point where we stop obsessing over technique, let our body do what we’ve trained it to do, and just dance.”

So, she faced that fear.
She didn’t have a choice.
But there’s something funny about facing a creative block like that.
You’re forced to find a way to break through it.
There’s no excuses.
None.
It’s either face it, or give up.
And Lord knows we aren’t quitters.

It broke through that wall for Jilissa and opened her up to growing as a dancer in ways that weren’t possible before.
And we have to find the same thing for ourselves.

So what if you look ridiculous?
Chances are there’s another girl in class afraid of the same thing,
But if she sees that you are throwing caution to the wind, she’ll feel more confident to as well.

Remind yourself why you dance, let that show.

The end.

I guess I need to change my tagline?

This happened

This book has my title…whatever.

Apparently Miss Abby Miller put out a book entitled, “Everything I Need To Know About Life, I Learned In Dance Class.”

Which, obviously, is the name of this blog.
And has been since it began.

So, do I change it?
Knowing that anyone from now on who stumbles upon this will assume I took the title from the book.
Or should I keep it?
Because I did have it before the book.

I’ll probably change it, but in time.
Maybe to what my Blog Name thing actually is.
I just liked this one so much better.

OH WHALE.

EDIT:

Just realized, hers is named “Everything I Learned About Life, I Learned In Dance Class”
Which is different slightly.
We shall see.

I just want to note that yesterday was a wonderful dance day.
There were very few of us in class being that it was the first day of summer classes. We were all pretty equal and skill and class was able to move along nicely.
Jilissa was also able to give more attention to us.
I feel like I was just able to do better and be better, although I don’t know why.
Maybe it was because everyone there wanted to be there.

It made me feel alive.

Recital

We had our 8th annual Recital this past Saturday.
I am beyond amazed by the talent in our studio, and also by the kindness in the people who attend there.

Sadly, many of our beloved teachers and students are leaving, so Saturday was our last day dancing with them. All for various reasons: some graduated and are going to college, some are moving, some got married, some are starting theater companies in Austin (oooo, you fancy!)
Regardless the reason, it was an emotional day to say the least. Tears were everywhere and pictures were being taken furiously to immortalize such a moment.

I took a step back and thought,
“How wonderful to know we have had such quality people in our lives that would warrant such an emotional response upon their departure.”
(no, I don’t always sound like a crazy linguist or something when I write.)

But really.
It’s sad to see them go, even when we are so proud of and excited for them. But it is a wonderful thing to know that we were able to call them ours, to have had them as a part of our lives while we did.

So now, I will hold more tightly to the ones I still have.

Who knows what tomorrow holds?
Make the most of every moment.