We went to a class at a new studio to see if we could hold up last week, and yesterday was our first day in the fall classes.
This also meant it was our first class including pointe.
I can’t tell you the last time I was on pointe. I’ve put on my pointe shoes to try and keep up my ankle strength, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to leave them on for a full class. Not because I’m incapable, but because the pain was so intense that my toes were literally numb within minutes. And not the nice kind of numb where you don’t feel anything; this was the painful numb. Like when your leg falls asleep and you start to wake it, or the numb spot on my leg from the car wreck. It’s “numb” because if I scratch it I can’t feel it, but if you press on it, it warrants me immobile.
But this is a new class of students at a new studio. I don’t want to count myself out because I don’t try. They’re watching me to see what I’m capable, and my greatest hope is that they’ll see that I’m trying and it’s not because of my inability in skill but a separate problem. I want someone to tell me something different than what I’ve heard. (“You’re just going to have to suck it up.”) I have a pretty high pain tolerance. There’s no way all these other girls are doing these moves so simply with this kind of pain.
I didn’t cry. Thank God I didn’t cry. Because I really wanted to. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t do a simple task that I should be able to do. Everyone else is busting it out like it’s nothing, and I should be able to as well.
Thankfully, the teacher was kind.
It didn’t help that I was having a really off day. My co worker has a weird way of teasing that is kind of degrading, and it was really getting to me. Then my leotard didn’t fit right, and it seemed I was the biggest one and the only one in class that wasn’t ballet sculpted. Thank God my friend’s little sister whose more my size came in to the class. She made me feel so much better. The fact that she went out there and danced with confidence made me believe I could, too. You know, there’s times I’m glad that I’m not the perfect dancer, the perfect shape, the perfect _______________. (insert expectation here.) I was beyond grateful to have here there to help pull me out of the insecure slump I had fallen into. I had to keep reminding myself that this was permanent, that “home” as I knew it (in a dance studio) didn’t exist anymore, and I had to adjust–either adjust or give up, and the latter is not an option.
Class ended, and the owner of the studio came over to us to ask how it went. My friend and I were honest with pointe–she struggled to keep up, and I struggled with my toes. (I had heard once that “bad dancers blame their shoes” so I refused to do that. It must be me.)
She was so patient and considerate. She suggested some other classes to try to see what might be best for us. I told her I knew my friend Lilian–who was in a class in studio B that started before ours let out–and she told us how she had found her fit and tried many different things.
Then she helped me try and figure out what was causing my toes to hurt so badly. She asked me about it and I explained the best I could, while trying to say “Yes, Ma’am.” But slipping a couple of “yeah”‘s when I was on an epiphany.
She asked me to point my foot.
“You have really good feet.”
“My toes are kinda gimpy, which gives me some trouble.”
“But that shouldn’t matter. See, your first two toes are rather level, which means the weight can distribute on two instead of just one. That’s good, see I only had the one here as my other toes are much shorter.”
I have good feet?
My friend Liz had these gel toe pads, and Ms. Munro had me try them and see if there was a difference. She suggested using those, as it may make all the difference in the world. I had always been told they were horrible. Just like I was told that Grishko 2007’s were the cop out shoe. But it turns out I just may be the one foot type that is perfect for Grisko 2007’s and gel toe pads.
What are the odds?
So now we are trying out an adult class on Wednesday with Alex, whom Lilian loves and I’m excited to get to dance under, and then trying out a ballet IV class on Thursday with Lori to see how we do on pointe there. A bit younger, but we’re used to that. (I’m also excited to take with Lori.)
Nothing worth having comes easy.
The struggle reminds you that it’s worth it.
You have to encourage yourself if you want to make it through.
You got this.
You’re better for it.
Never. Give. Up.
Started ballet late October of 2011 at the age of 23.
Began pointe training late August of 2013.