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.)


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