Pointe Shoe Fitting

Once upon a time I entered this contest and somehow actually won and thought it was a scam, but then it wasn’t.

(A little update from that post: Dianne had emailed me and asked if it would be better for me to go to the Austin store instead of the Dallas store, so I got to cut my travel time in half and see some of my dance friends in the process.)
So yesterday I took a couple friends and we trekked up to Austin.

 First we met up with my dear friend Leslie. I met her when I first started dancing at Instep Dance Studios. She was the Administrative Assistant, and actually the first person I spoke to there. (besides my friends who recommended Instep to me.) Leslie got married last year and she and her husband moved to Austin this summer. It was so good to see her.

From there we headed to Capezio. And let me tell you, I was nervous. I was so hopeful that this was what I needed to finally solve my pointe shoe problem, but so nervous that it would be another dead end. This wasn’t the first time I’d gone out of town for a pointe shoe fitting. This wasn’t the second time. And with this most recent ankle roll from my shoes, I was desperate. The people here locally can’t help me and I have to have pointe shoes to dance on, so what am I going to do?
Then the fact that I’m 26. Would they judge me or treat me different? Were they expecting a 13 year old? would they just kinda give up on me, thinking I should know better and have all the answers? that seems to be a theme in my life. Then I was nervous about the fact that I don’t have a dancer’s body. I’m doing all I can to tone up and slim down, and I’ve come a long way, but with all my stomach issues and freaking injuries keeping me from doing what I need to outside of dance to lose the inches (and just as I’m starting to see results…) It’s been a slow process. I didn’t want the fears in my head to be confirmed and the voices I hear tearing me apart to become human form. I just want to dance. I just want to feel alive.
I walk in and meet Amanda (I think was her name?) who lead me to Jordan, the lady who I believe is the manager. She was the one that Dianne had sent me to and the one who would be handling everything.
I sat down.
“What shoes do you currently wear?”
“Currently, Grishko 2007s. But they caused me to roll my ankle, so.”
“What did you like and not like about them?”
“I love the box. It’s perfect. Best thing I’ve ever put on. But they seem to twist on my feet. And I had asked the lady who was fitting me about that and she said it was fine. But it’s not. Hence the rolled ankle. My foot is really wide, but only at the toe here. It’s kinda narrow in the back. My friend called it a Phantom heel, I think?”
“Can I see your feet?”
I take off my shoes and socks and show her my gimpy feet, telling her about my tiny toes and how the San Antonio guy told me he had seen worse, but still had a heck of a time fitting me. I told her how I liked my Russians, but they just hurt so badly that I couldn’t do anything. I told her how I liked my Gaynors, but they weren’t tapered enough.
She walked to the back and was gone for several minutes. She comes back with her arms loaded with pointe shoes.

And when I took this picture, she was in the back getting even more pointe shoes. I decided I wanted this place to be my closet. She came back with another arm full, sat on the floor, then asked, 
“What size shoe do you wear?”
“A 9 1/2.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Man. You’re good.”
I tried on the Capezio Tiffany’s first, and I was amazed at how she was able to keep the different styles organized with so many shoes out. She explained how she could tell which shoe was which by the shape and color and other things. It was amazing. Side note, this is also when I managed to throw poop into the conversation. Really, don’t ask.
I tried on the Tiffany’s and liked them, but they shifted, which scared me. She explained the different reasons a shoe may shift, and the ways to figure out through, process of elimination, how to fix the issue. I was blown away.  
Then she brought out the Capezio Studios. She explained how they are a new shoe, and that typically you’re either made for this shoe and nothing else, or everything else but this shoe. She then explained how Capezio’s are typically made “broken in” but the studio’s weren’t. They had this crazy elastic instead of a drawstring and were definitely hard as rocks. Kind of like the Russians. She explained them as a Freed/Grishko hybrid. I named them “Frishko’s.” They weren’t bad, but they definitely weren’t my favorites. Weird, for sure, but a great concept. 
Then I tried on the Capezio Glisse’s. They felt alright, but I wasn’t sure if I preferred them over the Tiffany’s or not. 
She got a different size of the Tiffany’s so I could get a proper feel for which I preferred.  She asked how I felt in them and I told her they felt good, to which she responded, “These aren’t my favorite on you. I wouldn’t want you to have these shoes. Do you know why?” Of course, I didn’t. “Because I can see that your toes are crunching in your shoe. Not so much the right foot, but the left.
Side note: for some reason, my left big toe is crunchy. My right big toe will pointe like a dream, but my left crunches. I mentioned this to the San Antonio pointe shoe fitter, and they told me, “You’re going to have to get over it.” 
When she was able to identify that just by looking at me in the shoe for .2 seconds, I wanted to hug her, bless her, cry, and scream, “THANK YOU FOR ACTUALLY KNOWING WHAT THE HECK YOURE DOING AND TELLING ME WHAT I SHOULD AND SHOULDN’T FEEL BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA AND YOU ARE HELPING ME INSTEAD OF JUST GOING WITH WHAT I SAY. OH MY GOSH, THANK YOU.” all at the same time. It was a magical moment.
Then she had me try on the Capezio Aria’s. She told me if she were to look at my feet and know nothing about what I like and didn’t like, she would have put me in the Aria’s. She also told me that she didn’t think they would be right, but wanted to try them anyway. They were not my favorite, so we eliminated them and were down to the Tiffany’s or the Glisse’s.
“Here, try these on.”
“Which ones are these?”
“I’m not going to tell you. People can get caught up on a name, and I want you to throw that out the window and choose by what feels better.”
So I tried on the first one, went to the barre, stood in them, got a good feel. Then I put on the other ones, and stood at the barre. As soon as I did, I said, “These are the Tiffany’s, aren’t they?”
She asked how I could tell and I told her I could definitely feel the difference in the toe crunching in them. 
Jordan was a definite game changer for my dance “career” if you want to call it that. I came in to this just after I turned 23 and was having to re-learn everything because the little experience I had was wrong. I had a supportive and wonderful studio, now I just needed someone open minded and kind hearted like that to fit me for pointe shoes. Everyone kept asking me, “How do they feel?” Without taking into consideration that I have no idea how they should feel and can’t really tell you. I wrote it off as just one of those things you have to figure out as you go, but man this is exhausting and I’m falling behind.
Jordan told me all about different toe pads and which ones are better for what different things. She showed me tricks to help the blister on my pinkie toe knuckle, and was even able to pick out leotards that had longer girths, despite their size listed, in 2.7 seconds. 
I was a very happy camper. 
I have always loved Capezio, and I am so happy to say they still haven’t disappointed me. I could forever sing their praises. It says a lot to me for such a big name company to care about the little people who will never make it big or go into a company or anything, and giving me just as much opportunity as anyone else. They treated me like a prima ballerina, and This is an experience I will never forget.

After we left Capezio, we went and found the graffiti park and took some pictures. (My friend Andie also does Irish Dance, so she brought her shoes to get some great pictures with.)
I do photography, and I shoot a lot of dancers, and one of the things that make the dancer feel the best is when a passerby comments on how cool that is, or a little kid is overheard saying, “Look, a pretty ballerina!” While we were there, I overheard people commenting, “Look at the ballerina!” and I caught junior high Homecoming kids putting me in the background of their pictures. (I was okay with it, of course.) And it was the first time I ever felt like a ballerina. So often I see myself as lesser than other dancers. I don’t feel like I measure up, I see how far behind I am, I see how far I have to go and all the places I fall short. But these people saw me standing there for the shot, and they saw a ballerina. They didn’t pick apart my technique, they didn’t say how I probably couldn’t do xyz, I didn’t hear one negative word. 
We moved up to a higher level, where there was flat ground and I did some pique turns. A girl walking by while I was turning said, “That was really pretty!” as she passed. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to hunt her down, get a picture with her, and hug her. Other people also walked by and commented on how cool it was or how good it looked. 
And at first, I didn’t think they were talking about me. Because all the other times I’ve heard it, they were talking about the dancer I was shooting. But this time, I was the dancer. 
I was the ballerina.
Rolled ankle and wonky shoes and all. 
I can’t explain how good that made me feel.
Thank you, kind strangers, for saying such nice things when you didn’t have to. It meant more than you’ll ever know.

We also found this really awesome ode to Nerdfighteria. The people we encountered in Austin definitely reduced world suck. And I was so glad to have a fellow Nerdfighter along with me. It was a pretty great moment.
(That’s just my feet while Kristin was shooting Andie. Because, why not?)
Then we met up with my dance friend, Annabelle. I met her at Instep when I first started dancing. She was one of the first people to speak to me there and got her pointe shoes a year before me. I took her senior pictures that November, and the rest is history. Now she is one of my main models when she’s in town and never disappoints. She’s also one of my dearest friends. I wish we could have stayed longer, but having the few hours with her did wonders for my soul.
Annabelle has this roommate she met last year whose name is Emily. We decided that we are clones (I mean, seriously, down to minute details) but had never met. Well, she got home right before we got back to their apartment, and so I got to meet her and OH MY GOSH IT WAS GREAT. I had called her when we first met up with Annabelle, but it went to voicemail. which is when I realized I had never heard her voice before. I left a ridiculous voicemail that was perfect. When Annabelle opened the door, we freaked out and hugged for practically forever. It was great. I felt like we had known each other for years.
That’s us, with Andie creepin’ like a pro.
Andie, Annabelle, Emily, and me. Such a happy hug of friends 🙂 
Then we drove back home that night, almost got hit by a mini cooper convertible with 3 guys in it. Those three guys ended up playing cat and mouse for the next 30 minutes til they exited, and it was hilarious.
Then we realized when we stopped at a gas station that I left my purse at Annabelle’s. We were an hour and a half home already and I wasn’t about to go back. I was thinking how Annabelle could use my card to pay for shipping to get it back to me, when I remembered that Leslie is coming down this week for our dance festival that is this weekend. (Win!) So we carried on and got home after 1am. 
Don’t mind how messy the foreground and background are, but this was all the FREE stuff I got from Capezio. Glisse pointe shoes, elastics, ribbons, (would have gotten toepads had I used the ones they had, but I didn’t, so that’s all good.) And that sweet Capezio cup! Any ballet dancer out there knows how much money that is that I just saved, but let me tell you, Capezio is a genius for it. As if they didn’t already have a lifetime advocate for their leotards that actually fit my long torso, they now have my infinite pointe shoe business. (unless there was something Jordan missed, which would surprise me. And which I would also just pay her another visit for her genius and get whatever shoes she thought were best.)
Words can not express my gratitude to Capezio. Seriously. To say this changed my life wouldn’t be an understatement. Now I’m just anxious for my ankle to heal so I can start wearing these puppies!


I was really hopeful that I would be able to make it through the entire class yesterday, but alas:

Stupid ankle.
It’s not that it was necessarily hurting, but about 10 minutes in to barre, it started doing this weird thing where I could feel it grinding or crunching or however you want to describe it.
I have noticed this in my foot before, and it makes me hecka nervous.
I just want to dance, but I also don’t want to screw myself over by pushing through when I shouldn’t, instead of resting it while I still have the luxury of resting it. Pushing it now could be detrimental come Nutcracker.
I’m just really frustrated, because I was looking forward to class yesterday.

(see sad face)

I don’t want to lose all the strength I’ve gained and I don’t want to fall behind everyone else. That’s what happened last year; I was out with an injury then an organ removal (Dramatic sounding, I know.) and missed all those conditioning classes.
I need those classes. They’re what I’ve been looking forward to.
I’m trying not to let myself get all anxious. Especially with everything going on in life right now, it’d be easy to get lost in it. But I don’t have the luxury of succumbing to that right now. I have to keep it together.
So, I spent the class watching the other girls; trying to glean any bit of knowledge I can to help me better grasp everything in hopes that I’ll be better equipped when I can dance again.
Maybe it’s a good thing.
I have the pointe shoe fitting tomorrow have I mentioned how nervous I am? so maybe it’s a good thing my ankle didn’t let me get back into my old shoes. I’m hopeful they’ll be able to finally show me a shoe that fits.
Gah, I’m freakin’ Cinderella over here. Except, instead of taking a shoe all around to find the girl it fits, we’re taking the girl all around to find the shoe that fits.
Anyway. Hopefully my foot heals up before too long. I’m glad to have such a great class at such a supportive studio.
Our insurance guy at work called and when I answered he told me about his 4-year-old daughter starting ballet classes at my same studio. It made me happy.

I am thankful to have the chance to get pictures at my new studio. I haven’t pressed it too much since I’m still trying to get a feel for the place, but I’ll take any opportunity I can get.

Happy Birthday to me.

Last night I spent the evening of my 26th birthday at ballet.
By choice.
And I regret nothing.
Our teacher wasn’t feeling well, so we had one of the principals subbing. As horrible as it sounds, I was glad to not have our regular teacher on my birthday. And I was excited to have someone new; a fresh outlook and viewpoint.
The way I can describe Heidi is sunshine embodied.
I mean, she would sing the moves as she demonstrated them.
She’s always smiling and happy and you’re looking at her like, “How in the world can you have so much pep after doing such a complicated combination flawlessly? Followed by, “This is why you’re a principal.”
She’s one of those that can bust out this badass, hard core, impressive move, then top it off with a giggle like, “This is nothing, but I dare you to double cross me. I’ll shank you. Hehehe.”

I love having different teachers, because they each notice different things. Heidi was adamant about your feet “talking.” What she means, is that you use each and every muscle and roll through your feet properly. No cheating and just popping into it. Her feet were so ballet beautiful that it made you want to do what she said; she proved what she said works.
It made me want to work harder and practice more. I want so badly for my house to be done so I can have the room to practice and stretch and work on all of these things at home. It’s hard not to get frustrated when you know you can be better if you just had the opportunity. I’m still trying to figure out ways to make what I have work.

Heidi teaches a lyrical class after our ballet class on Monday’s, and she and Ms Munro offered all of us to stay.

I thought, “What the heck? What better way to spend my birthday other than dancing?”
So my friend Hanna and I stayed.
I was honest when they asked me at first, and said, “I’m scared.” It didn’t come off as weak, it came off as blunt, and that was perfect. She asked the other girls what I could expect, and what they said was, “It makes you come out of your comfort zone.” To which I replied, “Oh, I don’t really have a comfort zone anymore.” Which is partly true.
I don’t. I’m constantly trying to press myself to try new things; to stop wishing on the sidelines and take the opportunities I’m given. I’ve always wanted to do lyrical, I know I have never done this before, but what better time than now? What better place than one where they understand that I’ve never done this?
She wasn’t concerned if I was good or did things well, she wanted me to try. She is the type that can read you without you saying a word, and she was kind enough to instruct me without calling attention to it. This is the sign of a great teacher; a great leader.

We began, and I closed my eyes. Fear is your biggest demise, and I knew that if I could just face it, I would be successful.
After all, dance isn’t all about being perfect, it’s about heart.

I know I was well behind all the other girls, especially the little super flexible ones. But you know, that’s okay.
At the end, we broke up into groups and made up our own movement with certain stipulations. We went first, I kept up, it went really well. And as I sat there and watched the other groups, I reflected back on my life and my dance history.
How I’ve only been dancing 3 years next month.
How I was in a car wreck I still have nerve damage from.
How I’ve been sick for 10+ years for reasons still unknown.
How I’m 24, 25, 26 and behind 12, 13,14,15,16, etc year olds.

How all these things used to hold me back, but here I am trying something new. Here I am, saying, “Screw you, excuses.” And trying something I’ve always wanted to do.
Breaking down those invisible barriers telling me I can’t and shouting, “WATCH ME.”
I may not be any good, but I’m free. I’m trying, and as long as I try I will grow.
I wanted to be able to do the shoulder roll over thing, and the heel click thing, and I wish I had the room at home to try them since I didn’t have the confidence to at dance, but I’ll get there. Part of me wishes I would have tried, but part of me knows I have to be realistic with my stomach, and that being there doing what I did was enough for the first day.

This morning I saw bruised knees, and I smiled.
Proof that I’m trying.
Proof that I’m facing my fears.

(Happy Birthday, Ms. Heidi.)

New teacher

I absolutely love my Thursday class.
Ms. Lori has been subbing the Advanced Ballet class, so this last week was only our second time to have her teach us.
She’s so down to earth and kind, she’s human and accepts the fact that we are as well.
She doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but does expect us to do our best; that’s how we learn, and if we knew everything, she wouldn’t have a job.

You can just tell that this is what she loves; she loves the art, and she loves the people that encompass the art. What more could you ask for in an educator?
(Bonus points: she knows Jilissa. I was blown away by her empathy towards us in our first class.)

At the end of class, she got us all together and really expressed her heart for this art form. She told us how special it is that we get to be a part of something like this. It takes athleticism, but it also requires artistic ability. People can paint, people can play a song, people can do all these things but dance is the thing that requires you to become your art form. I read a quote yesterday that expressed how it’s the art form that doesn’t leave you anything tangible, just that feeling you get when you are in the moment.

I think that’s another reason I love it.
The history, the artistry, and that fleeting moment of tangibility you dedicate all this time and effort to achieve.

"But I didn’t want to sit out."

I don’t like the fact that I’m making an entire post about this, but I’m doing it anyway. 

On Saturday at the Nutcracker auditions, I rolled my ankle. 
It was fine, I was able to bounce back and finish the combination, but it started hurting on Sunday.
I went to class yesterday, and couldn’t make it through the whole thing. My ankle started swelling after we went into the center.
I was really mad, because I really wanted to attempt the things in the combination. 
My brain was grasping the concept. 
I was accomplishing the challenges put in front of me.
But I knew better judgement was to sit it out.
But I didn’t want to sit it out.
I didn’t want to tell the teacher I don’t know about my ankle.
I didn’t want to sound like I was making up excuses.
I didn’t want to look like an idiot telling her, when she probably would have been fine with me just sitting out.
I didn’t want to look in capable in class.
I didn’t want to look like I was wimping out, that I was giving up.
So what did I do?
I talked about it.
I absolutely loathe when I do this. I mean, I hate it. I beat myself up about it for a while afterwards; yet I still do it.
So as I was driving home last night, I tried to figure out why I did the very thing I can’t stand.
I wanted control.
It was my way of letting people know that I wasn’t all the things I was afraid I appeared to be.
But why?
Why, when I know that most people probably aren’t thinking that?
Why, when there’s nothing anyone can do about it?
I think it goes back to how this seems to be a common theme in my life. 
Where bad things happen that are bad enough to hold me up, but not bad enough for most people to grasp and understand.
I got in a car wreck. It caused nerve damage, but nothing was broken.
My friend died. We were close, but I wasn’t her best friend.
I’m sick. It’s been going on for 11 years, but you can’t see it, and it’s inconsistent, so no one knows unless I let them.
I was depressed. But “that’s not possible, she’s so happy all the time.”
My friends leave me often, words can cut a little deeper since they’ve been said so many times. If I’ve chosen to let you close, and you lash out words you know hurt, I’ll shut you out, at least for a time.
Food and I don’t get along. We’re not friends. No one can fix it. Quit treating me like I’m not trying hard enough.
People laugh at my quirks, they can’t see the psychological reasoning and pain behind them.
People call me weak, think I need to just grow up. That I just need to get over it. But they don’t realize it’s more than that.
I could go on, but that list is making me mad. So whatever.
The point is, I’m still learning to stop caring about what people think.
I’ve come a long way, but it’s not always that easy. Because it’s deeper than just not caring about people’s opinions.
Because these are first impressions, these will last. These people don’t know me, so what they see and experience from me will determine more than is visible.
It can determine outcomes not yet seen in the future.
Like a life audition that’s ongoing.
They watch you in class, they see the way you function and what’s common of you and what’s expected and predictable, and that’s how they form their opinion.
no matter how much people try and change it or judge people for being that way, it will always be that way. It’s how we are wired to function. It’s how we protect ourselves. Everyone judges to some point. And that’s not necessarily bad.
I won’t get into the differences between bad and good judgement, but the point being is I am far too aware of how detrimental those judgements can be.
So, I’m working on it.
I iced my ankle last night and the swelling went down.
I don’t know what else to do for it, and it’s frustrating. 
My whole life, all I’ve wanted is a diagnosis, a reason, an explanation to the things that happen to me in life; some way to understand it. But I should know by now I don’t get that luxury.
This post is just me being real. 
This life is my story, and this story is unfortunately part of it; as stupid as it may make me feel.

Nutcracker Auditions

Saturday was the day for our studio’s Nutcracker auditions.
It is actually hosted by two different studios, one that has a company attached, and anyone from any studio can audition, but for some reason no one in my old studio ever did–while I was there, at least. (Except Addie, until she moved to California ]: )
I had talked to Ms Munro about it, since I’ve only been on pointe for a year and am 26, typically people who have been on pointe for the amount of time I have are about 10-12 years old. Although I would love to audition and be in the Nutcracker, I don’t really want to awkwardly stand out among the 5-foot-tall preteens. Ms. Munro said to audition and she would let me know if there was a place they could put me, and she would let me know if there wasn’t. She told our class–the Ballet/Pointe IV–to go to the second of the three auditions. I asked her if she wanted me with my skill or age, and she told me either was fine, I asked if I could go with my skill since I would be going out of town, and she said that was perfectly alright.

I knew in advance that I would stick out like a sore thumb, but I didn’t expect it to be this drastic.
Thankfully, there were 6 of us from my class who were also there, including 2 of the other tall girls. I felt so much better having them there.
As the audition went underway, my nerves started to reside. It helped to be surrounded by overly nervous kids; you could focus your nerves on helping ease theirs and by doing such subside your own.

(I’ll have you know, when the youngest ones asked how old I was, they didn’t believe that I wasn’t 15.)

Upon first seeing Ms Munro, she asked, “You’re coming to this audition?” To which I told her, “yes ma’am, I’m going out of town right after.” To which she replied, “Right, that’s just fine.” So, there was that.

We did most of the audition in our ballet shoes–being that not everyone there was on pointe, they wanted to do everything we could with everyone before we released the kids who wouldn’t continue with us in our pointe shoes. We did some barre, some center, some adagio and petit allegro, and some acting. I found myself getting extremely nervous before things that were singled out. I would see these 11 year olds facing this audition with the utmost confidence and nailing it, giving it their all, and I would think, “I’m the adult in the room. If this 11-year-old can be confident, I can, too.”
I miss being 11. Where you still believe anything is possible and don’t have the doubts of growing up growing in your brain. I want to be more like these kids.

So, we got to pointe, and Ms. Munro put me in a group with the two other girls from my class that are about my height. That was nice, and helped me feel a little more secure.
We went first, which I tried to face head on and confidently, and thankfully got through pretty decently. There were a couple times I messed up, and one in particular that I wish I wouldn’t have let my face show it, but I learned. We did this one echape combination first off.
Echape, Echape, Echape, Sous Sous, Passe Right, Passe Left, Passe Right, Passe Left.
 The Passe’s were my challenge going into it, but I tried to remain confident and tell myself I could do it. I’ve noticed if I tell myself I can do it, I have a higher success rate than if I let myself feel nervous and anxious about it. Imagine that. 
In turn, I went all out. Without really even realizing it. I did the head, and the arms, and the face, and it was so much fun. I messed up one leg, but whatever, I finished fine.
At the end they would have us stand there so they could see our numbers write notes about us. This one judge lady that looked familiar but I couldn’t place and appeared like a professional ballerina looked straight to my number first and wrote something down.
I’m hoping that’s a good thing.

We did a couple things from the corner, which most of the kids seemed to struggle with. There were about 3 of the little kids that absolutely nailed everything. You can tell they work hard. One I had met before the audition started and she told me she’d only been on pointe for 3 months. I was impressed.
The last thing we did in our groups involved bourree’s, releve passe’s, and some turns from fifth–which I hadn’t even attempted since Instep because I wasn’t too good on them. On the last circuit of the combination, I did something wrong and rolled my right ankle. I think I made a face, but I got up and finished the last one. The shoes I’m in had made me nervous with how they seem to twist on my foot, and I guess this is why. It could have been worse, it could have twisted or broken, but it didn’t. It’s hurting today, and I have my advanced ballet class tonight, so we’ll see how this all goes. Thankfully, I have that pointe shoe fitting I won on the 27th, and one of the girls at the audition said that Capezio should have something to fit me. So that made me feel better.

Did I mention I did all this with a popped blister on my right foot where my pinkie toe knuckle is?
Yeah, there’s that.
Probably had an effect with why I rolled my ankle, but I had started by telling myself to forget about it.

We’re supposed to find out in 2 weeks. I dreamt last night that they gave me these rolls I had never heard of that were really small but there were a lot of them, and it was mostly acting. At first I was going to turn them down, then I realized that it was an honor that they were trusting me with these rolls. Then realized they were for the spring production and they were already casting me even though auditions aren’t until January.

So, my first audition is in the books.
Stay tuned for updates on what happens next.

Here I am with Mari and Lillian, who were about to go into the third group audition.
From what I heard of the advancement of the class, I’m glad I stuck with the second group. I’m definitely on the beginner side of the Ballet V class, and this audition went on the Advanced side of it.

I was glad that other friends of mine were there 🙂
Should be a great season!

There will be blood.

Had my first “blood draw” at the new studio.
okay, okay, so there wasn’t really blood…
but there was loss of skin, so that’s something.

Now this is gross and kind of pointless, but it really made me happy.

My feet are starting to look like dancer feet.
They’re forming callouses and rough spots and toe nails are starting to split.
I’m starting to get dancer’s feet.
The normally dreaded thing is more like a right of passage to me,
A red badge of courage, so to speak.
It means I’m getting somewhere, means I’m growing.
That I’m not just getting blisters because I have the wrong shoes, but because I’m working hard and improving.
(okay, so it was because my toepad slipped, which rubbed my foot wrong, but whatever.)

Nutcracker auditions are tomorrow.
I’m excited and hopeful that maybe I’ll be good enough to get a part fitting to my age group.
If not, it’s okay.
I tried and that’s what matters. I can do nothing but improve from here.
(technically, I could stay stagnant, but really. What would be the point?)

Thursday classes leave me feeling invigorated.
Mrs. Munro complimented me, and helped me reach a higher back attitude and arabesque than I thought was possible. She pointed out that the reason I’m not going higher–because I should be, and I’m able to–is all because I just need to let myself lean forward a little.

I’m excited to see where this year takes me.

I don’t wanna go.

I’m gonna be real honest 
Last night, I didn’t want to go to ballet class.
I had a emotionally rough weekend, and was having an extreme case of the monday’s–apparently bad enough that my co worker bought us mini blizzard’s on her way in. It seemed like Monday was just kickin’ everyone’s but yesterday.
Days like these can either make for a great ballet class that leaves me with a resounding feeling of success and satisfaction, or a really horrible class that leaves me near tears and wanting to quit. I was nervous that since this was the more advanced class that I would end up the latter.
I went anyway.

Honestly, because I thought of my old studio.
I thought of how I was sick the last two weeks of summer classes.
And how I wanted to skip.
And I did have to miss one class
But how I went to the rest of them, because summer is almost over.
I thought of how we really have no clue what tomorrow really holds. How even though it all looks like I’ll make my next class and everything will be hunky dory, that it might not be. You could get in a car wreck that messes up your left leg, causes nerve damage, gives you arthritis, and complicates your range of motion. You could break your foot. There is a long list of things that could happen and take away any further opportunity to dance.

I let this notion sink in a bit as I sat at my desk for the last four hours of work, thinking of all the things I could get done if I were to go home instead.
Then I thought of being home; actually putting myself in the scenario, and it didn’t feel right.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, the darn radio started doing what it always does when I’m debating against doing something I should do. Just about every dance song that’s popular on the radio came on, one right after the other, like it wasn’t not normal or something.
I’ll go.
Then, on facebook, my non-dance, ropes course friend posted a status that said,
“Dancing makes everything better.”
Sign: Accepted.

So, I went.
A bit nervous, a bit sad. That started to lift when I saw my friend Mari that I used to teach with at Instep. A very pleasant surprise. Then my other friends began to show up and it all lifted my spirits.
We got into class, and some of the other girls are beginning to warm up to me. It’s really nice. The teachers make me feel really welcomed, and now the students are starting to accept us. (It’s like we’re the adopted kids and the natural-born kids are starting to accept that we aren’t going anywhere.)
There’s still a couple that seem a little rough around the edges, but whatever. I don’t need everyone to like me. I don’t need anyone to like me. But it is nice when some of them start to accept you.

I’ll be honest again, it’s still hard for me to see myself this size in a leotard without a skirt.
With a skirt, I can hide that my hips are there. My smaller waistline takes away from the fact that my hips are so huge when they’re hidden by that little bit of sheer fabric. But here, I don’t get that luxury. I oblige, knowing that it’s better for my teachers to be able to see all my muscles and alignment, and I’m doing all that I can at this point to try and slim it down. (it’s hard when ballet does the exact opposite of what my body type needs to alleviate this issue.) I try to remind myself that I could be smaller, that I have been  smaller, I’ve been the size of these girls around me, but it cost me dearly and now my health is suffering for it because for me, that isn’t normal. Normal is  a little smaller than I am, but I have to allow myself the time to get there. Also, I’m starting this a little older, so it’ll take me a little more time. I have to focus on the fact that I’m alive, and I could definitely not be. I personally think I was close to real consequences that would have involved hospitalization and who knows what else when I decided to eat again. So, yes, I am a little bigger, but I’m human. I’m healthy. I’m alive. And who knows, there may be a little girl out there like I used to be that can see me and see that I’m a decent dancer even though I’m not a rail and give them hope that they, too, can dance. That it’s okay for them to dance.

It seemed I wasn’t the only one with a case of the Monday’s. One of the “older” (I mean more advanced girls, although I think she’s younger than me) girls struggled with one of the combinations across the floor, grimacing at her less than stellar performance (that looked amazing to me, but whatever) She looked at me (people tend to look at me? I don’t know if this is normal and everyone gets looked at often or if there’s some reason they’re looking at me? anyway) and I asked if she was having a case of the Monday’s. I think that helped her feel a little more relaxed at it and remember that it’s probably just a bad turning day.
We ended up doing the combination again on both sides, and when we finished the left, we all kinda waited in a little clump like we normally do. She was talking to one of the other girls for a second, then she looked at me and asked, “are you trying out for Nutcracker?” I told her I was, and that Mrs. Munro said she’d tell me if there was a part for me that wasn’t with the dramatic difference that would be seen if I was paired with 9-year-olds, and she’d tell me if there wasn’t. So that I was auditioning, and if there was a part I’d definitely take it. (Typically, everyone makes Nutcracker.) She seemed excited that I said yes.
This simple question, this simple moment, really meant a lot to me. Thinking back on it still makes me smile. Here, one of the more advanced students in this studio I’m new to that has a lot of competitive dancers, this student that I haven’t really spoken to before, asked me if I was auditioning and was genuinely excited when I told her, “yes.”
I felt like I belong, like I’m wanted here. And I know this may be a silly thing, but it really does and it means a great deal to me.

Losing my studio was really difficult, no matter how prepared I may have been. Starting ballet at 23 was a big deal for me, it took a lot of guts and I had to confront a lot of demons. Ballet has helped me grow as a person, and I want nothing more than to keep pursuing this thing that teaches me so much in life and helps shape me into a better person. To have someone closer to my age, far more advanced than me accept me really helped.

Mrs. Munro was watching the class, more than likely getting Nutcracker ideas. When we did the right side and I managed to actually not suck as much as I had before, she came over to me and asked me, “Now, you don’t put on your pointe shoes for this class?” I responded, “No, I like having the challenge of this class. I’m not ready for it on pointe yet, I’ll save that for Thursday’s.” She agreed and thought this wise, and asked the same of my other friend who had told me at the beginning of class that she wants to start coming to the Thursday class.

Cliffnotes: The class left me feeling good. I may have messed up on my arms, or have passe’d the wrong leg even though I knew better, I may have glissade’d instead of pas de chat’ed when I knew what I was supposed to do, but it didn’t matter. I’m challenging myself, I’m growing, I’m getting better and better at the things I need to work on. And that is what being in class is about.

Wow that was a long post thank you for making it to the end. If you didn’t, no judgement.

Take a step back.

My shoes are still giving me a bit of trouble, but I kept them on the whole class since I can do more on those than the others that kill my toes.
(I mean, I know pointe is supposed to hurt, but those are ridiculous…)
The box and my toes were fine, just the normal amount of discomfort that comes with it, but they were so baggy that it made me nervous. I had to hold back a little so I wouldn’t hurt my ankle since my shoe seemed to be twisting on itself as I pointed. I tried not to let myself get frustrated and just give up, but to find the balance in what I can do and to hold back a little when it was too much.
She had us do a bunch of scoops, which made me nervous since my shoe was so loose. I wanted to try, but I didn’t want to break my ankle or something.
At one point, we were at the barre just doing jete releve’s, and my ankle wiggled around so much that it hurt like I twisted it mildly afterwards.
I looked at my friend Liz after the combination, and mouthed that my shoes are too baggy and it hurt my ankle. She mouthed something back, but I couldn’t quite make it out, so I shrugged.
I won’t lie, I felt really defeated.
I held on to the hope of the pointe shoe fitting with Capezio, even though there is the possibility none of their shoes will fit me since my foot is so darn tapered.
My friend Liz gave me some of her extra elastic (since I never get enough, it seems…) and we talked about the class. She told me,
“You nailed those jete releve’s.”
“What? No I didn’t. You didn’t see my ankle nearly rolling?”
“No? It was literally perfect. You looked so light and made it look effortless.”
“Well it definitely wasn’t effortless.”

Then my cranial wheels got to turning.
Isn’t that what it’s about? Making something so pristine and difficult look effortless? Isn’t that what Jilissa always wanted us to do; make it look light? I remember trying not to put too much weight on the barre; that’s a bad habit I need to work towards eliminating. Isn’t this what I encourage myself with when I look at the pros? I look at their feet, I look for the wiggles, I look for the nearly complete but not fully completed third pirouette. I look for these deficiencies and then look at the whole picture and consider the fact that no one notices those little things because they’re too busy taking in all the things that are right with the whole picture. They’re busy registering the fact that what the dancer just did was insanely complicated, especially to make it look so easy, and even if they were to see the little faults, it’s nothing in comparison to everything they just accomplished.
After all, we are human.

Liz’s words were simple, but the depth of their encouragement is one that I don’t have words for.
That someone who was taught incorrectly as a kid, who was told she wasn’t the right size for dance, who was doubted, who was criticized could actually be one who is developing into something of the ballet image. Someone who is doing the technique correctly and in a way that doesn’t make people cringe or feel bad for the “bad dancer on the stage with all the good dancers, she must feel embarrassed.”

Maybe one of these days I won’t have to just rely on passion to make my dancing worth watching. Maybe one day it’ll actually be paired with skill. Maybe one day all this hard work will pay off.
It makes me want to work harder. It makes me want to practice more. It makes me want to try to be better.

Mrs. Munro taught our class, and she also came and corrected my back attitude. I had always wondered if it was right or not, and how to improve it; especially without looking like a dog next to a fire hydrant. And she did, she moved my leg up and told me, “You can get it there” and I did. I held it where she put it, and it’s like all the lights went off in my head and I knew that if I don’t push myself like that, I’ll never get better.

The thing with ballet is that you can never try too hard.
Go hard. Put as much effort as you can. If it’s too much, the teacher will reel you in and shape it into what it needs to be, but you gotta give them something to work with.

(also, she convinced me to try out for Nutcracker. She said she’ll tell me if there’s a place I fit in comfortably, and she’ll tell me if there’s not. That way I’m not, like, awkwardly the 26-year-old with a bunch of 11-year-olds.)