Ballet/Pointe IV’s

As I’ve said before, I love Ms. Lori.
In case you didn’t hear it enough, I made an entire blog post about her and how wonderful she is.
I think it would be safe to say that she is the leader of a class that is full of wonderful and talented people. When you get all of us together, it’s almost like magic.

I have said before how Ms. Lori has mentioned that the class possesses something so special that she is telling her friends about it, and she brought it up again yesterday.
Even now, I’m struggling to find words to describe what this class possesses.

There was a point at the very beginning of barre where we did a combination and held it at the end and when we finished, one of the girls shivered. Ms. Lori asked if she was cold, since it was like an ice box when we first got in there and she said, “No, it was just, I don’t know, something about that. We were all together and it was just, beautiful.”
This was just at the beginning of barre.
It wasn’t working on recital, or doing some grand thing in the center. It was just barre; the most basic of ballet repertoire. (Granted, the most important.)
Ms. Lori commented again on what this class means to her, “I talk about you guys. It’s like there’s some kind of magic in this room.”

And there is.
There’s something about this group, that when we come together to dance, magic happens.

We may not be the best, we may not be the most advanced, but there’s something binding among us that creates a bit of magic that is near-tangible.

Honestly, I don’t want this dance year to end. I don’t want to leave this class. I don’t want to get to the next level and have the lax habits of some of the other girls infiltrating what we have.

I want these girls to hold on to what we have, to know that they are capable, to try without fear of opinion.
And maybe that’s it.
Maybe this group is so special because their minds are still pure.
What I mean to say is, the world hasn’t gotten in and convinced them that they can’t.
That their efforts aren’t enough.
That it’s pointless to try.
That they aren’t going to get anywhere.
These girls still dream.
They dream and work hard and improve.

When everyone was putting on their pointe shoes, Ms. Lori was making comments about the recital piece and how great it’s looking and how we’re ahead and almost done and it’s only January.
I said, “I love this class. This is the class that makes me want to dance.”
And she said, “This is the class that makes me want to teach.”

I can’t tell you what it means to be a part of something that makes someone feel that way.

Ms. Lori

There are multiple times I’ve written about class and mentioned how much I love my Ballet/pointe IV teacher. It’s easy to see why within five minutes of time with her. (Really, you can see in 30 seconds or less) Yesterday’s class just left my heart bursting and I figured I would make an overall appreciation post for Ms. Lori.

Let me start with before class. There was over an hour until class started, and I was reading in my car like I usually do. I get a text from a photographer friend of mine text me and asked me if I was doing anything at 7pm. She had a food and wine show she was shooting for a magazine here locally and was told she could bring a plus one. I told her I would if I could, but I have ballet that starts at seven. I seem to have a knack for missing these due to dance or a previously booked shoot, which makes me sad, but this is the life I choose and I do like my choices, so that’s nice. She text me again about ten minutes later saying she ran into Ms. Lori at Barnes & Noble and asked if she wanted to go with her. Ms. Lori works for the magazine as well, which is rather ironic. She had to turn her down do to the fact that she was, ya know, teaching my class.

So seven rolls around and we get into class and Ms. Lori tells me she saw Rachel. I told her Rachel had text me and she said, “Yeah, she said she had asked you and you couldn’t do it, and I told her I was teaching your class. She asked me if you really had to be in class or if you could skip and I told her I had just finished giving y’all a lecture about being in class for recital! I couldn’t let you go!” I laughed so hard. I told her I didn’t have my camera on me anyway, so I would have had to go all the way back home first. Plus if I’ve come to class sick the last three Thursdays, I’m not missing for something fun. I’m committed.
It was just really funny. Maybe you had to be there, but the irony just made it great.

When we opened class, she told us that our energy two classes ago was so good and the class went so well that she was actually writing to tell people about it. She was that excited. She told us that the class we’re in now will be the class we tend to stick to–we’ll do roles together and advance together, etc–and she said it’s up to us to choose to carry that energy with us. She said if we do, that we can do great things. “I can’t wait to see y’all do Waltz of the Flowers in a few years!”
As a dancer in this class, it made me feel really good to know that our class made our teacher feel good. Sometimes the girls can get chatty or distracted, but overall they’re very talented and want to do well. It also helps that Ms. Lori is such a gentle person. She has a way of communicating that makes you listen to her, but you don’t feel like she hates you. If anything, you feel like crap for making her life a little more complicated by whatever it was you did.

She started giving us more complicated combinations to see if we could do it since we were mastering so many other things. She also wants to work on the details with us, which personally makes me really excited. It’s something that has seem to fallen through the cracks throughout my training so I do what I can to make it through, but I really want to be doing what is right rather than just anything, if that makes sense? Using your head and strong arms can make all the difference in your performance. Also, I can’t always see that what I’m doing is right, or wrong, or if it can be done better, so it’s nice to have Ms. Lori walk around and correct me on these little things that everyone else just assumed I knew.

That’s the hard part being an adult dancer–people assume that since the number of your age is higher that you’ll know more. Most of these 12-year-olds have been dancing over triple the amount of years I have. I’m learning more just from watching them than anything.
And now, I finally have a teacher that will see me at the barre, will see me in class and move my head to the right angle or call me out when my hips aren’t square or my barre arm is too far behind me.
Not only that, but she encourages me and sees me when I do things correctly. She’ll compliment my back attitude when it’s showing improvement, and she’ll scream out, “Nice!” or “Right, Emilee!” or “Good!” when she sees something done correctly so I know that what she saw is good to do over again.

I also love that when someone does something correctly, she’ll have them show the class. She did this yesterday with some of the girls and you could see them take such pride in what they were doing where before they may have been a little self-conscious or uncertain about the step.

It’s such a positive environment. I wish I could be in class with her every day like this.

Our recital piece is coming along really nicely. One of the girls had an idea on something to do and instead of shutting her down or talking to her like a little kid or condemning her for voicing her idea, she said, “Let’s try it!” and worked it into the choreography. That little bit right there to a 13-year-old speaks volumes. That shows her that her ideas are valid and worth attempting. That ideas she has are worthy contributors. That she has value.

To say that I have the utmost respect for Ms. Lori would be an understatement. I hope to learn as much as I can while I have her, not be too sad when I’m solely in the V’s class, and look forward to the VI’s when I have her again.

The Wizard of Oz

They posted the cast list for The Wizard of Oz yesterday. Being that I didn’t have class yesterday I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to see it or have to wait until today. My friend was sent pictures of the list, which she passed on to me.
I was cast.
As a Winkie Guard (I have no idea what this entails, but I was cast, so I’m rather excited.) which predominately consists of girls from my class, so I know I’m at least on the same level. My eye caught on one of my friend’s names who is a 4/5 with me, and I saw that she and a few other girls on that level had two roles, which was pretty cool. I just kinda figured that maybe I’m just not on that level and that’s okay. It’s a character part anyway, and I haven’t taken a jazz class in years, so they’re way better anyway. I scanned it over kind of quickly, and just kind of carried on texting, not really paying attention.
Then my friend said, “You’re a winkie guard and cover crow!” I said, “What?” And then connected that the girl’s extra role was a crow, and that “cover” was what they were calling understudies. I pulled up the picture that listed understudies and looked at it more clearly.
There is one understudy for the Crow role, and that one is me.

Honestly, I can’t even explain the emotion of euphoria that came over me. It was equivalent to that of my friend who got the cover of Wicked Witch of the West which is a principal role and she’s 15. (Pretty big deal.) My heart exploded. I almost cried.

I felt I bombed that audition. I left and my heart was so heavy. I’ve never experienced that after an audition before. Not even in high school theater or that time I went to a casting call for a movie (hah.) I went in to that audition and wanted to prove myself; to prove that I was better than how I did at the Nutcracker audition with my bum shoes. I wanted to show them that I work hard and can do what they throw at me and that I have potential.
I wanted so badly to have potential.
To be something, to not just be another dancer to fill numbers.
The girls who are the crows are really good. They deserve to have that extra role. They will rock this. They work hard. And as I see them in classes, they’re the ones that I size up to be close to where I am in level. And when you think these things, you hope against all hope that you’re not just kidding yourself. That you really are at least at that level, and not just making yourself out to better in your head than what you really are. So they are this role. And there is one cover. And that cover is me.
I am the next best thing to them. I am the one they trust to fill in should anything happen. They looked at me and thought I could do this.
They saw potential.

Maybe all of this is cheesy. Maybe I’m pathetic.
And if I am, I don’t care.
This really meant more to me than I could put into words. It makes me want to try harder to figure out what the issue is with my shoes. It makes me want to work harder to improve on these things I’m struggling in. It makes me want to put in extra effort to get this right and be better.
It makes me want to do everything I can to show them that they made the right choice.

Plus now I have to get character shoes for this so I’m prepared in case I have to dance it which is kind of exciting.

I’ll have posts and updates on rehearsals and shows.
And Pictures, I’m sure.
🙂

Oh, Barbie.

“I trip and stumble again, again
(again and again)
But at least these steps are mine”

Oh, Thanks Barbie in the Pink shoes
Yeah someone on Instagram posted a ballet picture (she has a ballet instagram I follow. This sentence really sucks. I could word this better. Oh well.) And in the caption she said if you’re having a hard time to look up the Barbie in the Pink Shoes song.
I have the movie. Unashamed to admit this fact. I remember hearing the song and choking up.
So I looked up the lyrics. And BAM.
Then my best friend came by work to drop off my Christmas present and she needed to borrow purple leotards, and part of the present was a Barbie Sugarplum Fairy ornament.

Oh, Barbie. How you can be an odd source of encouragement.





Wizard of Oz auditions

There’s never been a time that I actually seriously considered giving up ballet.
That is, until this weekend.

I was going to write this blogpost this weekend, but I wasn’t sure how much I actually wanted to say. And, even though very few people read this, I feel I owed it to y’all to at least say something.
But how much? How honest do I get? What is reserved for my journal, and what is acceptable to put here? I’m sure most people would say I’m over reacting or that it was probably better than I thought, but at this point I really don’t think so.

The audition was rough. I was nervous going into it since I was dancing with the 5s instead of the 4s, and the 5s have the 6s and beyond with them, where as the 4s have the 2s and 3s. There is a substantial difference in level as the 4s audition favors to the younger ones and the 5s audition favors to the older ones. (I could take time to explain this, but that’s exhausting so just go with it.)
I’ve kind of noticed that I have been struggling a little with simple things like rolling down out of an arabesque and things I used to actually be pretty good at, but I didn’t think too much into it. I figured I was just nervous or scared or out of sync since Nutcracker. I told myself I would figure it out and work through it as we began learning our recital piece which is when I really started noticing. Maybe my shoes were dead. The box feels good, but it could be dead in other places, right?

I tried to go into the audition confident. The mind can do more than the body, right? I signed up at the same time as my friend and we were next to each other and I felt I would be fine. I’ve been sick for two weeks with God-knows-what so breathing was kind of hard, but I pressed through.
Barre was good
I felt good.
I got this, right?
Well then we did a few things that were character pieces. I haven’t done jazz in seven years, so I was a little rough compared to these girls who take the classes on the regular, but it was fun anyway and I tried to play it off. I was kind of frustrated, because I knew I could have done better, but whatever. Do my best, right?
Then we put on our shoes.
I tried to psych myself up and not just let doubt rule me from the beginning. I ran through the tips my friend had given me at Nutcracker about turns and had a flinch of panic that I hadn’t done a pirouette since then. (All we’ve had for recital so far is a pique turn.) It should be noted that I was number 79, and the numbers started at 73, thus putting me in the first 10 people. So I was in the first group when we did it in tens and the second when we did it in fives.
Great.
The combinations were all things I could do on flat. (Except the brisse, which almost no one knew anyway so I didn’t feel too badly.) My brain could do it all, but boy did I struggle. They would have simple things mixed in with things I struggled with (which should have been simple) which would then throw me off and I’d struggle to get back on track.
I tried my hardest. I really did. But all in all, I ended up leaving really embarrassed. There were even a few points toward the end of the two-and-a-half hour audition where I was near panic and wanted to just sit it out, but I couldn’t. This is an audition. (This brings me to tears just writing this and remembering how I felt. Dang it.) And it sucked because this time I actually know these people, and they know me, and here I’m pretending to present myself as someone they want when really I know I’m not showing that I have much to offer. It was embarrassing.
I held it together and pretended like it wasn’t as horrible as it was but that almost made it worse. Because no one is going to tell me I bombed it, but no one is denying it either. I tried to tell myself that I’ll just be the person who isn’t perfect that makes everyone else feel a little bit more at ease knowing if they mess it up they won’t be the first and they’re probably better than the girl in the first group who did horribly.

I put on my shoes yesterday and went out into the building my dad is building since I knew he had some concrete sheets on the floor that wouldn’t mess up my shoes and tried to give myself some confidence, but it didn’t really do anything.
Is it my shoes? The wear is going to the far edge of the box. I’m rolling over too far. But is that the shoes or is that me?
What the hell am I doing wrong here? Why is this so difficult?
I used to struggle with getting on my box, but now I’m going too far over my box. What gives?
Maybe my shoes are dead. I can order some new ones and see if that does the trick.
I go online and search Capezio. Okay, they have the Glisse’s, but where are the Glisse Pro ES? Wait. I seem to remember these being on sale a while back. Like, around the time I first got mine. I google-searched.
Yep.
They’re nowhere to be found.
So then I research the difference between the regular Glisse’s and the Pro ES. It seems to be mainly the hardness of the shank. Apparently I use the hardest shank available. Is that what’s hurting my dancing? Is a hard shank something I actually do need? I had a hard shank with Gaynor Minden’s.

At this point I was clearly at a loss. The shoe fits great but I go too far over my box. I have no one here I can ask and don’t have time nor resources to go anywhere else since it’s all so far away. What do I do?
I decided to make a last ditch effort and emailed Jordan, from the Capezio store in Austin. I don’t know if she’ll respond or even be able to help me, but I didn’t know what else to do.

So, I toyed with the idea of just giving it up.
Who am I kidding?
I dance to feel alive, yes, but what’s the point if I can’t even technically dance because so many things are hindering me, and I just leave feeling deflated? What’s the point if it makes me feel this badly?

It makes me wish people didn’t know I danced or about the audition so they weren’t asking me how it went because I can’t even pretend this went well. At this point, I’m not even sure I’ll get cast and if I do I’m sure it’ll be with the younger girls. Which is fine, but dang I really wanted to do better than I did. I can  do better, but I can’t seem to. Which makes no sense except that it does.

So, there you have it.
My disastrous audition.
We get results within the week, supposedly.

And for reference, here’s what my feet looked like in my shoes yesterday.
(Please ignore the untucked ribbons, etc. I was by myself and it’s hard to take a picture of your own feet in sous sous.

My right foot, which is the foot I don’t dance as well on (And the ankle I rolled.)

My left foot. Which I usually dance better on but looks way worse here.

Milestones

Yesterday was my IV’s class, which the class I do pointe in. The class before us is the II’s, which three girls from Instep are in. (I just ended two sentences with a preposition. I apologize.)
The II’s got their pointe shoes over the holiday’s, and yesterday was the day they got to put them on and get them approved. I loved getting to watch their excited faces, as well as a few of those who were undoubtedly questioning what they’ve gotten themselves into. Some of them seemed to have troublesome feet, some of them just have absolutely tiny feet. Regardless, it was fun to observe anyway. Some of the girls in my class started coming in and would chime in their stories of the day they got their shoes. One couldn’t remember the day, which made me laugh. One of the mom’s was complimenting one of the girls from my class on her dancing. She is so beautiful to watch and just has the natural grace about her. I was glad she said something to her, because it’s true. She obviously didn’t know how to take the compliment, which was cute, but really, she’s one of the girls I watch and try to be more like. I love having her in class. (Plus she’s hilarious.) But she was one of the girls who kind of took me in, so I’m really grateful.

We started off at the barre yesterday. Ms. Lori was focusing on the details, which we don’t always do, but I was very glad we did. It’s something that many of the other girls know but I haven’t really been taught. I was glad for the slow and detailed, and even more so when she walked around looking at us and said, “That’s right, good!” to me. Especially cause I wasn’t sure I was doing it right, hah.

We also got started on our recital piece yesterday. There are 13 of us, and we are in 3 groups of 3 and one group of 4. Each of the groups have a different colored costume; light blue, orchid, mint, and light pink. The tallest are in one group which is where I fall, and we got to choose first on the color costume. We decided to go with blue, taking into consideration all of our skin tones and the fact that at least two of us were in the orchid shade of purple and didn’t want that again. Not to mention another group really wanted it. I’m excited because the tutus are detachable and will be great for photo shoots. Win!
One of the girls wasn’t there, which was fine for yesterday but makes me nervous in the grand scheme of things, because she was the one I had issues with during Nutcracker. Great girl but I feel she brings my dancing down. She doesn’t always pay attention and can lead to impaired and unprepared dancing. Then they frantically look to us, and I don’t want that responsibility and stress on me. The other girl holds her own really well. I like dancing with her.

The dance is more of a Balanchine’s Serenade style of dance, which is new and exciting for me.
There was a moment when we were blocking that Ms. Lori was trying to figure out the next set of counts where she just ignored the rest of us and moved. It was beautiful, breathtaking, even. I loved just watching her as her brain created the next set that would be ours to dance.

So far my favorite is this section we do in waves where the first three groups do an arabesque into a kneel in turn, and we do an arabesque and run forward to do a hand fancy thingy (yeah, perfect terminology, right?) that’s different from the others. Plus we get to be seen. (yay tall people seen!)

The music is all strings, from the Vitamin String Quartet. I don’t know the name because all Ms. Lori was told was “Tribute” which is really vague for this particular artist because all of their music is a tribute. I want to sit down and try and find it, though, but when I have more time.

I got complimented on my feet yesterday, which made me feel really good. It also kind of surprised me, because when beginning ballet I didn’t think I would have much give in me since I’m so old and you kind of peak at sixteen or so. Yet it seems that I have gained in flexibility quite substantially in the last three years, and the fact my feet are improving makes me really happy.

Until next time.

PS. I got home and found this was in the mail! It’s the shirt I ordered from a Ballerina named Maggie who had to put her career with Joffrey on hold due to breast cancer. Head over to http://www.baldballerina.com to find out more and read her story. Such a class act girl!

And here’s my cat. 
Because, I mean, look at him.

And we’re back, folks!

Yesterday was our first class back. And boy was I happy to be there!
It’s cold here (okay, okay, compared to most it’s not that cold, but for us it is! Especially the wind!) so most of us were lagging a little bit and the class was only about half-full, but it was a great class.

I realized on my way to the studio as I mentally went through everything that I would face, that this is the first time in this studio knowing as many people as I know. Our Nutcracker rehearsals are done at the Corpus Christi Ballet studio downtown, and the last time I was here at Munro Ballet Studios, I didn’t know near as many people. I was curious to see what would happen with that, if anything. Usually I sit and read until someone I know shows or until class starts, whichever happens first.

Yesterday was no different. Okay, I guess there was a slight difference. This time when some of the girls were showing one of the others how to use a stretch band, and it was funny, I could laugh and not look like a creeper. Because I knew the girls and man was it hilarious!
I was actually okay with it being like this. I didn’t want anyone talking to me just because of pictures (feeling obligated to, or like they could milk some special treatment out of me, etc. Dancers like pictures of them dancing, it’s just how it is. And photo shoots can be expensive. Or just cost money at all. When, let’s face it, most mom’s or little siblings or cousins–especially those uninterested in dance–don’t always get the best shots.) But it was normal, if anything, the air was friendlier. Nothing was awkward. It was wonderful.

We get into class and get started. All of us are freezing, so warming up was loads of fun. (hah.)
From the first plie in first, I noticed something. I looked down at my feet and saw that, hey, wait, those weren’t always that far apart, were they? Continued on and we got to the grand battement section. Mine usually aren’t extravagant, and I remember them being slightly below 90 degrees starting at Munro. But yesterday I noticed that I could see my foot in my peripheral vision. (this doesn’t usually happen.) So I started paying attention, while making sure my hips stayed square and didn’t go all crazy and I wasn’t leaning and all that, and wouldn’t you know it my foot was higher than 90 degrees! Not super high, but that’s irrelevant. Getting above 90 is a pretty big deal and quite the milestone. In this class, especially, the teacher will say, “oh, just keep it at 90” and I laugh because getting it there doesn’t typically happen, but now it does! I’m pretty excited.

I had noticed last year when I came back from one injury or another that kept me out for a couple weeks that when I’m gone for some time, and come back, I’m stronger. My flexibility increases. My focus is better. And I used to panic when I had to miss because I didn’t think I could afford lacking any classes because I was so behind in comparison, but really, it helps me.

I didn’t practice any ballet over the break. (aside from the occasional ronde jambe in the grocery store aisles or tendu in the closet) I did go walking when the weather was nice and stretched a few times, but even with that my foot and ankle started hurting so I couldn’t do much. (the cold, maybe?) And maybe I had hit these things during Nutcracker. I know I could feel my turns getting stronger and other things. Maybe I just didn’t notice these happening.

Whatever the case, I’m glad to be back!
(Pointe on Thursday!)