"Hold it together"

We were doing a turn combination in my V’s class that proved rather challenging, even though it wasn’t all that difficult.

Pique, pique, double pique, prouette, releve, attitude turn,  four chaines.

Everyone seemed to struggle with it.
We also did another combination across the floor that didn’t contain steps that were too difficult, but almost everyone struggled with the timing.

Saute, develope, glissade, jete, chasse, sou de basque, arabesque, chasse, tour jete, chasse, fouette, glissade, grande jete.

Our teacher told us before we did the left side, “You have to make sure that you are engaging your core, holding your epaulement correctly, you need to just kinda, hold it all together. That’s how you’ll get through and get the timing.

This has become my mantra.

Life can occasionally feel like it’s falling apart.
Things may not even necessarily be going badly, but you’re still at the end of your rope.
No idea how you’re gonna make it or what you’re gonna do about it all

You just have to hold it all together–you can’t afford to break down.

Hold it together.


New Shoes.

I’m kinda sad I didn’t get any pictures in class yesterday, but whatever.
It was my first (actual) class in my new wonder-shoes and to say I was nervous would be an understatement.
I wanted and needed so badly for these shoes to work, and judging by nutcracker rehearsals in them, I wasn’t all that hopeful that they would be better than the ones before.
Our normal teacher, Lori, wasn’t in class so we had the studio owner Ms. Munro teaching our class. I was sad to not have Lori, but having Ms. Munro is never a bad thing. Plus, as long as I give good face, I have found that Ms. Munro doesn’t tell me off if I have to do a few things on demi-pointe. (hehehe.)

Let me just say, it felt so good to be back in class. It also threw some insecurities in my face, but whatever.
Barre on flat at the beginning of the class went well. Ms. Munro complimented my back combre (yeah, no idea if that’s spelled correctly or not.) which made me feel really good. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if something flipped, or what, but it seems like a majority of the class has been kind of slacking. Maybe it’s just because we had Ms. Munro and she’s in Nutcracker mode, but (even with rehearsals) it seems that the class is rather distracted and not so confident. If that even makes sense? I don’t know. But it really showed me how far a little confidence can go–even if you have to wing it.
Ms. Munro seemed to have a lot of compliments for me yesterday, which was pretty cool. That’s never happened before, but hey, I’ll take it! And maybe it’s a mix of throwing caution to the wind with everyone else’s lack of whatever I can’t figure out how to explain. (And it’s not necessarily everyone. There are some really talented dancers in our class. I’m referring to the air as a whole. Maybe that’s what’s tripping me up.) Also, the girls are younger. So it may just be a maturity thing. I dunno.
Anyway. It was really exciting to hear the teacher commend me. It seems that all I’ve had is downs and downs and more downs in class here lately. And it was the first actual class in my new shoes. The last time I had a good class–capability wise–was about a year ago. Ya know, when I first started. There was a period of about 4 classes where I was actually able to do things, and I was afraid I would never see a day like that again.

I think part of what set apart yesterday’s class from the Nutcracker rehearsal last week was the floor. At the studio, it’s a black floor that’s a little more solid. At the Corpus Christi Ballet studio, it’s a little more squishy. I think somehow that had an effect. Mixed with the forced confidence yesterday, and somehow it spurned success.

I was really excited about writing this post after yesterday’s class, and now that it is written, I feel a little ridiculous. I can’t seem to put into words what I want to put into words, and it’s feeling a bit like a train wreck.

Oh well.

It was a great class that left me feeling like I never wanted to go another day without dancing. It gave me hope that I’m not a lost cause, and that maybe I can improve with time.

Also, I looked on the website for Nutcracker photo shoot times and stuff, and saw that I am an Apprentice with the company.
Which sounds pretty cool.
So, there’s that.


Yesterday was my first actual class back since I had to sit out/was out of town (conveniently during the same time.)
And I’ll be honest with you, part of me didn’t want to go.
Don’t get me wrong, I love ballet. I’d dance every day if I could.
So why didn’t I want to go?
Honestly, I’m not sure.
Maybe a part of me got lazy. Maybe I liked having time to get things done.
Maybe it’s because it’s the more difficult and advanced class, with the students who are better than me. Maybe it’s because I was exhausted of facing that by just the thought of it.

Still, I went.
Like all the time before, I told myself how much happier I would be after going.
That I want this.
There is always the risk that it’ll be an off day and my fears will be confirmed and I’ll wish I hadn’t gone. But the odds of this happen are far less than the odds of it not happening.
I went, and I was exhausted.
My arches were angry and my calves were sore.
I had to soak my ankle after class to be safe. It did alright in class, but I could feel it which isn’t a good thing. I figured better safe than sorry.

These days can be extra overwhelming, since I’m still adjusting to the new studio.
It’s getting better, and I’m acclimating, but part of me is still homesick for the place I can never be again. To be surrounded by something familiar, predictable, and to be around people whose names I know and who know mine. There’s an unspoken competitive strand that every dancer gives off, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Until you get to know them, and are reminded that even the greatest dancers are human and probably look to you for one thing or another that you had no idea about.

Leaving class, a few more people spoke to me. One of the sweet younger ones smiled at me and I think recognized me from Nutcracker rehearsals. My teacher smiled at me as she passed by me.
I know I’m not perfect, and I know this class is a little above where I stand, but it is a nice feeling to go and leave feeling like people like having you there. Instead of feeling like you don’t belong or aren’t wanted.

Here is a picture of one of the younger girls watching the older girls doing their fouette’s.
I didn’t get my phone out fast enough for the better shot of it, but considering how long it took to get my phone, I was lucky to have a chance at a shot at all.

First Nutcracker Rehearsal

I got there unintentionally early, which ended up being a good thing since the annual Jazz Fest was across the street and parking was a joke.

I had barely finished sewing my pointe shoes at work. I had actually forgotten until about 3pm (I get off at 4:30) When I was putting together the new desk my boss got for me and realized I didn’t have much time. I wasn’t 100% sure if we would be wearing our shoes or not, but figured I should have them sewn just in case. I mean, the part isn’t that long, and this rehearsal is 2 1/2 hours. Surely we’d get into them.

This is before rehearsal started. I told the girls I needed to get a picture since I kept forgetting to take any for this blog. They were rather excited.
So we got started with a barre warm up, then referenced last year’s DVD for the choreography. Ms Munro put us in order by height, which thankfully there’s one other girl whose around my height, so I don’t stick out awkwardly among the other dancers. (Who are at least 10 years younger than me.)
She put us into two groups for the two different sides of the stage we would enter. The girls in my group would prove to be pretty great, as they were the quieter ones who paid attention and in turn gained the praise of Ms Munro. Which is coveted. Go team.
We learned the entire dance, which wasn’t too hard for me being that it’s rather short. But I definitely recognize the different parts I’ll need to improve on so I don’t look like a blubbering idiot up there. 
Ms Munro worked with the lead Chinese, who were adorable to watch. The girls are about 11, and the boys they are partnering are probably in high school, so the girls were rather giggly. But they would keep it together to get the dance done, which I thought was very mature of them. It was quite entertaining to watch. 
Ms. Munro had us put our pointe shoes on to work on the dance the second half, so we could get a feel for it.
This was the first time I had put these shoes on. They weren’t broken in at all, and I wasn’t even sure if they were sewn well. They proved to be pretty darn good.
I got mine on before the other girls, so I went over and walked in them a bit on the studio floor. I was instantly nervous when I remembered that there was a pirouette in the choreography, and the last time I did one was on this floor during auditions when I rolled my ankle. 
For some reason, the floor seemed squishier than usual and I felt less stable. I was anxious, to say the least, but tried not to let it overcome me. I could do this. I had to do this.
So I did a couple preparations to get the feel for the shoes and the floor, did a couple of almost intentionally horrible pirouettes to get the feel, then Ms Munro came over, as the other girls were practicing various things as well. One did a pirouette, then the other, and then she was looking at me. So, I gave it my best shot. 
I made it around, didn’t land it the best, but didn’t eat it either. Ms Munro said, “Good!” and carried on as if it wasn’t an emotionally traumatic thing for me. 
(Yes, that’s a little dramatic. But you get what I mean.)
I was a little discouraged that I could feel my foot slipping in my wondershoes.
I don’t remember them feeling like that at the fitting, and I really didn’t want a repeat of my Russians, where I couldn’t do a darn thing due to the pain it put on my big toe, instead of holding my foot like the Grishkos which–inevitably–lead to my rolled ankle.
I put it out of my mind and determined to do my best. I couldn’t do anything about it now, anyway. Plus, they’re brand new, and I’m wearing different toe pads then when I tried them on. Yes, that must be it.
I didn’t make it the whole rehearsal on them, but I sure did my best. I also didn’t push myself too hard and look ridiculous. I did last longer than I ever did in Russians, so I started to feel better about it. This was also the longest I had ever danced in pointe shoes at one time, so that was something to be said. 
When I couldn’t take it anymore, I just did the choreography on demi-pointe and gave really good face. Ms Munro never said anything. I think she knew I could do it and knew I was doing what I had to. So that was nice.
My fellow member of TeamTall hadn’t made it to rehearsal yet when we were going over the last bit of the dance. It involved bouree-ing around, back to back, with your partner for a certain amount of counts, doing a little jig, then bouree-ing around again to the finish. Ms. Munro demonstrated with me, liked how it felt, and wanted to see it. 
For some reason, no one else seemed to be able to grasp the concept.
It made me feel good that I was able to keep a clear head (which I can lose easily, especially in new situations) and follow along. Usually I’m too nervous to jump in and demonstrate things, but I guess I felt a sense of responsibility to set an example, being that I’m older. I don’t know. Anyway.
Summer–my TeamTall partner–came in at that pointe, put on her shoes in a hurry, and jumped in. (After a mini warm up.) (Ps. She was at CRP training, so she had a good reason to be late. Yay, Summer!) Ms. Munro showed her what we were trying to accomplish, and she busted it out near perfect and Ms. Munro was pleased, and ended up using us as the example for the rest of rehearsal.
I gave Summer a little mini talk-through of the steps, and Ms Munro went over them once, then she was thrown in. And let me tell you, I was impressed. Sure, she didn’t have it perfectly down-pat, but the girl kept up marvelously. By the end, she looked to be about the same level as the rest. She kept saying, “I don’t feel confident in this at all!” Which is understandable, since she was thrown in to a sink-or-swim kind of scenario, but man, did that girl swim. 
I know she’ll have it down by next rehearsal and blow everyone’s socks off. 
All in all, I’m excited about Nutcracker. I felt a little bit of shame in telling my parents they would be paying all this money to see me on stage for a minute, but they seemed not to care. I just can’t get their reaction to my recitals out of my head. (We don’t want to sit through all those baby dances just to see you for 2 1/2 minutes.) especially now that the tickets aren’t free. 
But whatever.
I’m doing this, and I’m going to have fun.
I’m going to keep my eyes and mind wide open to see everything there is to see about this entire experience. I hope to learn and improve and have fun with the girls. 
I also ordered the toe pads like what I had when I tried on the shoes, in hopes it helps.
I refuse to give up.
(These are my dead little feet after rehearsal.)

That one time I was interviewed for a newsletter.

Yeah, that happened.

My friend over at Introvertology asked to interview me on what it’s like to be an introvert in the field of photography. 
It was pretty cool, and you should check it out!
She also asked about dancing, so if you haven’t already clicked the link, do it now. 
This has never happened to me before, so I’m kinda geeking out.
Thea, the wonderful lady who runs Introvertology, found me on twitter when I hashtagged something as #introvert. It was under a different name at the time, and I looked at her posts and thought they were pretty great, so I gave her a follow. (Wonderful marketing skills, right there.)
When she decided to change the name, she did a little survey on which ones some of us liked over others. Now Thea has a really amazing newsletter going and a website. Even an introvert book club and recommendations! It’s an introvert’s dream, really.
I love getting to see how far it’s come, and am honored that she asked to interview me. She was even patient with me when I had to jet off to Kansas to see my aunt before surgery and didn’t have access to the pictures to send her, and even more patient when my laptop crashed and I had to find other ways to get to my pictures. 
If you’re an introvert, I suggest you give her a follow! 
Introverts unite, separately! 

So You Think You Can Dance.

Growing up, we were never the kids that got to go to the concerts or big events that we saw on TV, heard on the radio, and our friends were going to. Back then, nothing came south of Houston, and that was just too much for us to try to do. I never really regretted it or anything, but I kinda wrote off in my head that things like that were impossible.
Well, last night the impossible happened.
If you know me, you know I’m mildly obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance. I’ve always like it, but this season in particular was one that I followed closely; making notes throughout auditions on who I thought would go far, claiming favorites early on, watching those favorites make it into the top 4, and my other favorites past the top 10. I wanted so badly to go to the US Tour the top 10 does, but the Houston show was the same day as Bailando, and I knew I couldn’t miss that. They had a show in San Antonio, but it was on a Monday. It didn’t seem feasible to go and drive back the same night so I could make it to work on Tuesday, especially since I am notorious for falling asleep with my eyes open. Yeah, that’s not a good mix for driving.
I had a viewing party with two of my dance friends for the two-part finale. (Mainly because Directv doesn’t get Fox, and I really wanted to see this live, so, I mean, Andie wasn’t sad.) The first Wednesday night, another dance friend was texting me over how amazing the dances were. She told me that they were going to see the tour in San Antonio and how excited she was about it. At first I was overwhelmed with jealousy. This was something I wanted so much I couldn’t explain it. There’s something about dance that touches parts of the soul nothing else can touch. It connects people in ways like nothing else. This season was so special to me, and I really wanted to see it full through, I wanted to see it live. I half-jokingly told Natalia she should tell her mom to take me with them, to which she responded, “I can ask her!”
And she did.
And her mom was totally okay with it.
So I asked where her tickets were, and looked up one in the same vicinity. The app automatically picked the best seat unless you told it otherwise, so I just went with it. I was shaking at the fact that this was happening and couldn’t form thought process to try and think through anything, but I mean it would tell me, right? So I bought the ticket, freaked out, and just hoped this wouldn’t blow up in my face like most things do. All too often I’ll get my hopes up for something, just to have it shot down by one thing or another; but this, this looked hopeful. When I got home, I opened up my laptop and looked up the seating of the Majestic Theater to see where my seats were.
Turns out OR RGT C10 meant the freakin’ second row on the right side.
The second row.
Second row!
There’s no way!
Surely, there will be a boom camera or something blocking my view. There’s no way it was this easy. Maybe a pillar or something. There has to be some reason this ticket was there. After all, it was the only non-VIP seat in the row.
For being one all about documenting the journey, I sure have a way about keeping silent about how I really feel up until it happens and I know it’s sure. Thoughts to ponder there…
So anyway, Natalia and I are counting down the days, and when Monday finally arrives I’m nervous-excited at work all day. I met her at her house at 4:45 and we headed off for San Antonio.
Natalia and I are at different studios, now that Instep has closed, so it was really good to get to have the drive to spend time with her. Man, I miss my dance friends so much!

We get to San Antonio, and the Majestic is downtown leading us to have to wind our way around one way streets to try and find a parking garage that isn’t full. In doing so, we drive past a bunch of buses and semi-trucks. As we wait for traffic to move, we see Rudy among a bunch of Tech people.

(Total Creeper Shots)

Natalia is beside herself, but we refrain from jumping out and instead just go to find parking and head inside. We bought shirts and programs and just stood in awe of how beautiful this venue is. We tried to soak in every moment of this entire night, and let me tell you, there was so much to soak in.

(We are excited)

The little sounders to let you know the show is about to begin start tinkling so we make our way to our seats. When I asked the usher where to go, he told me, “Down this Aisle, look for row C on the right.”
So I did.
And as I got halfway down I realized I was just at row Q, and row C is like, way farther.
So I looked up.
No boom camera.
No pillar.
The only thing “in my way” was a lone cable from the stage that didn’t matter 99.8% of the time.
How is this really happening?
I get to my row, and the rest of the seats are filled with two excited little girls and their Grandmother, with a seat open for their Mother as well. We greeted like old friends, and the oldest proudly told me, “I’m gonna be on So You Think You Can Dance when I turn eighteen!”
“Well that’s amazing! What’s your name, so I know to look for you?”
“Maddie Wartsbaugh”
“Alright Maddie, I’m gonna be rooting for you the whole time! How many years do I have to wait until it’s your turn?”
“Eight, no…Seven years!”
“I’m looking forward to it!”
The younger sister piped up that she would also audition when she turned 18 and we all high-fived. The Grandmother told me that watching the show had become their girls night, and that they were surprised to see that tickets were still available when they bought theirs. By this time, the Mother had returned, and they said they thought they had balcony seats! We were all on cloud 9 the whole show. I couldn’t have asked for better seat mates!

(Maddie is in the pink)

I felt like I was watching dear friends up on that stage. From where I was sitting, you could see them in the wings before the show. They were so excited, and tired, and pumped, and just happy to be living life this way. 
From start to finish, I was blown away.
I don’t think I said much more than, “Wow!” the entire night. (honorable mentions were, “I love this one!” “How are they even real?” “What is life?” and “OH MY GOSH HER FEET.”)

I also found it mildly amusing that my seat was right below the point they spotted their corner. There were even times when the lights were dim that one of the dancer’s eyes met mine, and you know it wasn’t just them staring into the void. Their face changed for a second at the realization that there were real people out there and we all felt something together and this is what dance is all about.

When the show ended, my new friends and I were talking about how great it was. I mean, anyone can say a show is great, but this one literally took everyone’s breath away. 
“I feel like they took us to another level. This was other worldly.”
I agree, Grandmother. I agree.

And that’s what I love about dance. 
It makes you as a dancer feel alive, which in turn makes the audience feel like there is something more to this life. 

There were moments where I would look at the audience, and see what their reaction was. All the faces lit by the glow of the stage lights, captivated by what was before them; art at its finest.
I could hear the dancers breathe from where I sat, which is the sign of a good dancer. To lose yourself in it so much that the timing of your breath matches the movement not only helps you as you dance, but just emotes so much more and takes your dancing to another level. (Zach and Emilio were really good about this. Some of the girls, too.)
I loved that I was close enough to see the humanity of the dancers; the hair pins flying out during their pirouette’s, the glitter shaking off Tanisha’s silver sparkle costume, their freckles, bruises from countless rehearsals and performances, even cellulite. Now, granted, not on everyone. But, honestly, seeing that a top 10 dancer on my favorite dance show ever had cellulite too, and was built like I was, but was still regarded as beautiful and sexy and talented; it did so much for my confidence.
I try to remind myself of how I feel when I would see someone at a recital or in a picture or whatever that was shaped more like me; how it made me feel empowered. And how instead of beating myself up about how genetics shaped me, I wanted to try and face all the voices in my head with dynamics and try not to pick myself apart to much because there’s probably a little girl out there shaped the same way who feels “If she can do it, so can I.” And if there’s just one little girl that feels empowered, it’s more than worth it.

These are real people; normal people. They came from their normal lives, headed to an audition with a dream, and ended up here, doing what they love for thousands of people.
It’s amazing what can happen in a year.
And the fact that they’re real people just doing what they love is what makes me not only love them, but respect them. They are normal people, and they inspire other normal people. And this is what I hope to be like. And I had this worded perfectly in my head at 4:30 this morning as I fell asleep, so bare with me because I’m struggling to remember how it went now.
I know that they already saw 5 other cities worth of people, and that they have tons more ahead. I know that in the city I was attended, I was only one person out of a hundred. But for that moment, for that minute, they looked at me, they spoke to me, they cared about me. They made everything I felt this entire season of dances more real than I could have ever hoped. They connected with me, and I felt like I could do anything. That my point on this earth will be a good one, that I’ll accomplish everything I need to, that I can be that person to someone one day.
I’m going to change the world, I know I am.
And it’s not because I’m any better than anyone else; it’s because I’m not.
Real people need real people to show them it’s okay to be real.
I want to be that person.
And I may not have a huge platform for inspiring, but that’s okay. My life is a platform. And while it’s really nice to know thousands of people love you, it’ll be empty until you can appreciate when it’s just one person. If one person isn’t worth it, than who are you really? Why are you doing what you do? For what cause?
To me, it’s worth the one. It’s worth the people in my little world; because to them, it’s not so little.
And that’s what keeps me going. That’s what inspires me. That’s what makes life worth living.
This life is about people.

Oh yeah!  We totally happened upon the meet and greet by the fact that God loves us and was like, “here ya go!” hah.
We were walking to the parking garage and were trying to find stairs that weren’t congested. In doing so, we ended up on the side of the building we saw the buses.
And there was a group of people.
So we checked it out.
And this lady comes up behind us and says they always come out and talk to the fans that wait out there.
So we waited.

So, here is a recap of my sometimes awkward conversations with these amazing people I got to meet.

When they set up the barricade thing, they asked some of us to fill in the back. Most people were hesitant, but I jumped on it, since it was at the very end. This would either be a great idea, or a horrible one.
Turns out, the cast came out of the other door than where people started lining up.
Ya know, the door I was right next to.

(I swear I’m not a creeper.)

Rudy was the first to come out. I think I was so in shock that this was actually happening, I forgot to get a picture with him. But I did creeper-shot him. The girl next to me told him he smelled good, to which he mentioned they got to shower, to which I said, “Thank you for that.”
That’s right, I thanked him for showering.
Emilee Awkward at it’s finest.

They spread the cast out throughout the line, having some start at our end, and some at the opposite. all the while, the other members were ninjas in getting the the bus to drop off their stuff without being detected.

Next was Teddy, who was one of the ones who caught an obvious eye contact, as he smiled for my camera, which was the only one visible in our section at that time.
He wasn’t top 10, so I asked him to draw himself on the front.
“I’m doing a body roll, because it’s my favorite dance move.”


Then Zack came by.
At this point, it’s starting to sink in. He was one of my favorites from auditions, so I was slightly freaking out at the fact he was in front of me. I know we spoke, but I don’t remember about what. He was really nice.

Next, Marquette came through, which from the beginning I swore I knew him from somewhere. So much so, that I actually googled him. Still haven’t figured out why he seems so familiar. When he was talking to the girls next to me (Who were FREAKING OUT, it was adorable) one of them said, “I’m under so much pressure!” to which Marquette and I both sang, “Under Pressure!” at the exact same time. It was quite the moment. We fist bumped. He also drew himself 🙂

Next was Ricky, who was rocking Harry Potter glasses and shorter than I expected. (Which is the sign of a good dancer, fun fact.) He came to me first and was insanely kind. Just happy to be there and hilarious. A friend I made in the line was really excited to meet him, so I don’t remember exactly what we said because I wanted to make sure he didn’t miss out on seeing him.

Tanisha was the first of the girls I got to meet. And let me tell you, she is a gem. I was blown away during the show by how well rounded she really is. They put her in many of the roles that were originally danced by Allstars during the show, and she slaughtered it!
She was rather concerned for the girls next to me that were freaking out. One of them was so in shock she could speak. When she apologized for crying, Tanisha said, “I cry all the time, crying is the most real emotion.” This is something that will stay with me. I told her how amazing it was to see her take on those allstar roles and how she rocked it out there and was like the unspoken force that just came in and blew everyone away. We talked about the drive to Missouri, and how I’m driving to Kansas tomorrow, and she was just so kind. The other half of my friends I made in line got a really hilarious picture of her, too. It was great. She was great. A quality individual, for sure. When she signed Anne’s (the girl who was freaking out) program, she made a comment of how Marquette always signs by her face. I said, “It’s Marqnisha!” Then was all, “wait, what?” And she kinda looked at me, like, “Wait, what?” And I said, “I dunno, I was trying to put your names together. Marqnisha, Tanquette? No, definitely Marqnisha.” She said, “Oh that’s great, I’m gonna pass that one along!”

This was when my camera died. And I was so sad. But my new friends came to the rescue, and Valerie was so patient with me.

Valerie was the one I most looked forward to seeing, since she was my favorite from the beginning, and just so real. That’s what struck me about her. Real people are the best people. Before she got to me, everyone else was freaking out and she would say, “Guys, I’m normal! I’m just a normal person!” and when she got to me, I told her, “I think that’s what makes you so great, you’re a normal person. Thank you for that. Thank you for being who you are.” She was so kind, and hilarious, and sweet. I didn’t pass out or say anything embarrassing, so miracles happen, guys.

Next came Jessica, who I was also really excited to see and was the favorite of the 2nd half of my line buddies. She was also very genuine and kind and real. So refreshing. I told her I loved the songs she danced for her solos, and she told me, “You know what’s crazy is I didn’t even pick “All About That Bass.” I told her I loved that her songs were always encouraging songs, and that it really hit me when she danced to the Beyonce song, “I was here.” It really made a statement. She said, “Girl, I could dance to Beyonce all day!” To which I said, “Man, me too!” She was really warm and kind. Such a gem to meet.

I’ll be honest, I had a hard time telling the difference between Carly and Bridget. This happened all season and as soon as I thought I got it down, I’d mix em up. So I was probably most awkward with her. But man, she handles awkwardness like a champ. She was so kind, strikingly so. (Ps. It’s Bridget.)

Next was Casey. Literally, he came over to me and enveloped me in a giant hug. (The only one to do this. They hugged other people, but I tried to keep my cool and not be a fangirl HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA because I am. But he didn’t care. He wrapped his arms around me like we were old friends, and I just said, “How are you real?” He was really nice and funny and seriously, his face seems like it’s photoshopped. And his hair. How the heck is that real? I dunno. But he was really cool and kind and funny. (growing trend here? whatever.) It was great.

Okay, I was really excited about meeting Jacque, too. She is a ballerina so I automatically connected to her at auditions. I loved what Nigel had to say about her at auditions and his reverence for the art of ballet. (Not to mention, her solo was AMAZING.)  She also reminds me of my friend Rachael, who is the one who inspired me to dance and believed in me when I was too insecure to think it possible. She is seriously the sweetest person ever, and her faces on stage are dynamic. Her technique was spot on and her grace overflowed. Truly an inspiration to meet her. Insert fangirling here.

Last, but definitely not least, was Emily. (Ps. My duo line buddies waited for me to get the picture for me. And Emily almost missed us! But she was super kind and turned back around.) The first thing out of my mouth, “OH MY GOSH, YOUR FEET.” To which she responded, “Oh my gosh, thank you!” Which only dancers could have conversations like that. She was great. I told her how glad I was to hear she was coming on tour, because she was one of my favorites. I thanked her for taking her time out to meet us, to which she was all, “Oh of course!” and happy, ya know? It was so wonderful. I had her draw herself as well. She said, “Oh, I be Marquette started this, huh?” And I told her, “Actually, Teddy did! With his belly roll.” so then she was like, “Oh, it’s on.” And she drew herself with a sweet bun and earrings that looked like hair but we knew it was earrings. It was great.

The only people we didn’t get to meet were Carly and Emilio. Emily said that Carly wasn’t feeling well (which is amazing, because she danced impeccably well. But her ankle was wrapped, so I’m sure that was hurting her.) and Emilio was having dinner with his family. Because, ya know, he’s from Houston (:D) So that was okay.
All throughout the makeshift meet and greet, I would have moments of realization of “Oh my gosh, this is happening. Right now. It’s still happening.” And would freak out at “How the heck does this happen? This never happens to me. Ever.” And I was so grateful for the lady and her daughter who told us they always do the meet and greets if you know where to go and they take time out to meet everyone and take pictures. And I was even more grateful to Natalia’s mom for letting us stay, even though it meant getting back to Corpus at 3:07am.

Best night of my life. Seriously.
Words can’t describe what all that evening meant to me.
It felt so real. I felt so alive. It made me want to dance even more, and mad that my ankle is still messed up and I have work, but then happy that I’m alive and have the little life I do.
And I doubt any of them will remember me, (except maybe Tanisha. Ya know, Marqnisha.) But that’s okay. Because for that moment, they knew who I was. They may not have known my name, but they heard my stories and held conversation. Those are the moments that you know will stay with them as a whole, and stay with you. And that’s a beautiful thing.

I’m on cloud 9.

Edit: Upon re-reading this, I must apologize for the umpteen million typos laced throughout. I was clearly excited and wasn’t proof-reading. Oops.

Bailando Pictures!

Here are a few of the pictures I took during the Bailando Dance Festival master classes I wrote about in the previous blog 🙂

Dancers in Susan Trevino’s ballet class.

Dancer’s in Alexis Anderson’s Lyrical class. (I think.)

Dancers in  Orlando Canova of Ballet Austin’s class

Alexis Anderson in Dana Nicolay’s ballet class.
I believe this was   Walter Hull’s class.

Orlando Canova’s class

Dana Nicolay correcting a dancer

Wilgene David’s Hip-Hop class.
(Those two in front are from my old studio 🙂 )

I may post some performance pictures later. Not sure when I’ll have time since I’m getting home after midnight tonight and leave for Kansas on Wednesday. We’ll see if I have time tomorrow. Stay Tuned!


This weekend was the annual Bailando Dance Festival at our local University.
My old dance teacher works at the university and helps put it on, so it was kind of like a mini Instep reunion.
Which was so wonderful.

I wasn’t able to dance, so I took pictures of the classes and helped Leslie with whatever was needed.
This kind of sucked–having to watch everyone else take all these amazing classes from the sidelines–but then it was also awesome. I was able to sit in on a bit of every single class. If you were in one downstairs, you couldn’t be in the one upstairs as well. You don’t have a clone. But I was able to go in and out of all of them.
Inadvertently so, I was able to sit in on classes I normally wouldn’t have the courage to take; namely modern and contemporary classes.
I love when I have the opportunity to learn from a variety of different teachers. One may see something another may overlook and vise versa. This weekend definitely opened up my mind to dancing as an art.
Here are a few points I learned from a few of the choreographers.

  • Never dance with judgement. Only dance for the artistry. (From Alexis Anderson’s class)
  • Don’t. Judge. Yourself. (Also from Alexis.)
  • Think of yourself as Mr. Potato Head. Your arms are like sticks and the body is the potato and doesn’t move. (Oddly effective from Dana Nicolay’s class. #teampotato)
  • Strive for progress not perfection. (From Gabriel Speiler of Dance Au Deum.)

There were a million other things I didn’t get to write down, as well. Like in the one class from the director of Urban Souls; I was completely inspired by how open the dancers were required to be. There was no “I can’t,” There was no doubt. There was confidence. And seeing those nervous dancers find their confidence and seeing the improvement made me see that I could do that, too.

I was able to watch and envision myself doing the different moves, to try and pick them apart and think of how I would execute the moves. I was able to find in myself a bit of belief that maybe I could do these things if I tried.
I loved getting to watch the dancer’s feet; to see what is correct and what probably feels correct but isn’t. I loved watching the port de bras and understanding the placement of the body in all these things.
I also loved getting to take pictures during these classes, helping me remember what looks right and how to do it. It also helps remind me of what I learned and gleaned from this weekend. I apparently really like the word “glean.”

(A couple of my favorite moments were when I realized Mel Glouchkova was using the Harry Potter theme song for barre work, and when Randall Flynn was using a Misty Edwards song for contemporary. Did my heart good.)

I found myself on a dance high. I am sad to still have to miss two more of my Thursday classes, but it’s a good way to keep me off my ankle to make sure it’s 100% when I go back, and it’s for good reason.
I just miss dance.
(I still have to sew my shoes. so there’s that.)
Also, we had our Nutcracker costume fitting, and it made it feel real.
I was glad to get to be with the other girls all together, I think it’ll be fun.

Nutcracker Casting.

I got a snapchat of what I got for Nutcracker.
And I wasn’t prepared for it.
And let me tell you, I cried.
And not really a good cry either.
And now that I’ve had a day to process and think through, I don’t really want to write this blog post. But this is part of my story, and I have to tell this part to get to the next; just like I had to live through this part to get to the next.
So, hear me out.
I got the snap chat, with my name horribly misspelled–which I’m used to by now–and found out that I got Chinese.
Which isn’t bad, I guess.
But I sure had hopes that I’d at least be petit fleurs. Something with a tutu.
I have heard so many people complain about Chinese.
I’ve only seen The Nutcracker twice, so I’m still kinda rusty on which rolls are which, but I knew what Chinese was and where it was because the first time I saw The Nutcracker, my friend Addie was Chinese.
She seemed to like it.
But it’s not one that people think of. When they think of The Nutcracker, they think of Sugar Plum Fairies and Clara, and the Rat King, and the Snow. I knew all of these weren’t feasible at my skill level, but you know what I mean.
My friend is an adult ballerina as well and did Nutcracker for the first time last year, landing Lilac and Snow. I was really hoping I would be good enough to get those rolls, and at auditions, a couple of the girls told me I was a shoe in. I guess it’s my fault for letting me get my hopes up. Reality is I’ve only done ballet for 3 years next month and only been on pointe for a year, which really hasn’t been a year with all the injuries, surgery, and improper shoes. I should have known I wouldn’t be developed enough in skill to be farther ahead than my easier class. I’m 26.
I’m 26. That’s another kinda difficult thing. Doing a roll with 13 year olds.
but I’ve done recital with 13 year olds.
Yeah, but I wasn’t the only adult.
It feels like being in the advanced class at my old studio, but being the only one not dancing in the advanced dance. As hard as I tried, I just wasn’t up to their level. I guess I wanted to prove something to myself. I wanted to prove that I can dance, that I am improving, that I am something.
Chinese was the roll I wasn’t sure I wanted to do if I got cast in it. I know anything lower would have been with students who were too young with which to be paired. But I figured if my friend had done it, maybe I could, too.
Then I started daydreaming; of feeling pretty on that stage in a beautiful tutu. Of being in a long enough part to make it worth my family paying money they don’t really have to spare to see me. Of the pride in my voice in telling people “I am in The Nutcracker” and how excited they would be, and they would come see me and see why I dance and how the production is beautiful.
I wanted to prove that I am good at ballet. That I’m not wasting my time doing this. That all this effort and pushing through is paying off. I want to prove how difficult this is. That I am capable of difficult things. That I’m not a pansy or a baby or weak.
I want to prove that I am a ballerina.
I won’t lie to you, I cried.
I sat on my couch, crocheting and watching dance moms and cried.
I cried because I failed myself. Because I’m not as good as I hoped I’d be. Because I don’t get to wear a tutu or feel pretty or prove to anyone anything. I cried because I’m not a part that makes my friends want to take pictures of me. I don’t get to be in a roll that leaves kids wide-eyed in wonder and want to sign up and “be just like her.” I cried because I really wanted to be in a role that wasn’t typical to me. I want to show that I am human and that I am more than what is surface and that I have something to offer this world. I cried because I wanted to be remembered, and to me this interpreted as just another time that I was overlooked even if I could fill a roll or had a lot to offer. (Even if this was the best roll for me to fill.) I cried because of the fear that no one would want to come now. That I’m not good enough to be worthy anyone’s time. Or that they would come and be disappointed. I cried because my ankle is still freakin’ hurt and I can’t do anything to improve my situation and I don’t know how long it’ll be like this. I cried because I’m 26 and I feel like I missed out and should be better than I am. That I should be better because I’m older, not because I’ve only been in ballet a quarter of the time most in my class have.
A lot of emotion rolled into those moments. I debated even doing The Nutcracker at all. Who was I kidding?
Then a very wise friend of mine told me some appropriately wise advice;
“Sleep on it sweetie.”
I put it out of my mind and asked her if she knew what rolls other friends of ours had gotten and if she was excited for this years turn out.
I did the whole, “fake it ’til you make it” bit not really certain if I would ever make it to the level I was faking it. But I guess it seemed like the right thing to do.
I put it at arms length and took a step back to evaluate the situation.

  • Which would be worse; being the roll I was cast for, or sitting in the audience while everyone else had fun?
  • Surely there is something to be learned from this
  • What about my babies, what would it say to them if I backed out?

So I thought about it.
I wanted to be something more mature, something beautiful. I wanted to be something that would show that I’m a ballerina. I wanted to be like my friend and have the blog-perfect Nutcracker experience that made everyone so proud. I wanted to be a roll that didn’t make people roll their eyes and not take me seriously.
But maybe this wasn’t the year for all of that.
Maybe this is the year that I have to learn to put all of that aside. Maybe this is the year that I learn something for myself; that it’s not about proving something to anyone else but me. That I don’t have to have these typical roles to inspire someone. That maybe the ones I’m to reach out to aren’t the once in the audience, but rather the ones backstage. What if I’m comparing my unique story to everyone else’s. What if the way that I am special is that I don’t fall in to the typical category of what you would expect, but rather am silent in my strength.
What if.
And what about that story I heard.
About the most requested extra in hollywood.
How they didn’t have any award, and no one really knew his name.
But the Director’s did, and they requested him. He was in high demand
He was in high demand, even though the public didn’t know him.
I decided I needed to be that guy.
So content in my roll and just happy to be there that I don’t have a second to waste on feeling sorry or guilty or sad.

I thought of Jenna, one of my Instep babies who is at my new studio now.
I found the cast list online this morning and looked for her name, uncertain if she even auditioned.
And there she was.
Jenna was in it, and how elated will she be if I’m in it, too?
Then I decided to look up my other friends roles, and found out one of my dearest dance friends–one of my dearest friend in general–got cast for three rather large roles without even auditioning. I was ecstatic for her, bursting in pride at how she was able to accomplish such a feat.
It crossed my thought for half a second that she accomplished everything I failed to and that I should probably be sad or bitter or resentful or whatever, but I wasn’t. she deserves this so hard.
I reevaluated.
I looked at reality
I have only been in ballet almost 3 years.
I have only been on pointe for “1 year.”
I have only been at this studio for a month and was cast in a part that requires pointe work.
Be real, your chaines and grande jete’s suck.

So, I decided that is what I will do.
I will work on these things I know I need improvement on and hope to do better next year.
Maybe if I work really hard, it’ll show.

It’s hard, being out on a stupid pointless injury that won’t seem to go away.
It’s hard, having to miss classes.
It’s hard, not knowing when I’m going to get sick.
It’s hard, not having the space I need to practice at home.
It’s hard.
And there are a million excuses.
But I just can’t let that be the final answer.

So I decided I’m going to team up with the one girl from our class that was actually excited about being Chinese and start an optimism party.
That we will make the most of this roll and be grateful to have it.
“Dance, dance like it’s the last, last night of your life.” Right?
If I died on December 22nd, I’d wish I had done it.
I’m gonna ham up this roll and be the best I can be.

We’ll see how this goes.