Pull it together.

Ms. Lori choreographed a dance for the girls who are at festival, so I didn’t expect her to be in class yesterday since the girls left Wednesday. But she stayed behind and took off today instead, thus being in class to teach us.
It was so great having her, especially with the recital piece and more especially since we were off for Spring Break last week.

She has this way of encouraging while she teaches. She tells you what you need to hear (she’s the only one besides the director and Ms Munro [of course] to flat out tell the girls to get into character and why it’s important with Winkie Guards. And she called me out and flat out told them to watch me and do what I do and I was embarrassed and proud at the same time it was wonderful.) but does so in a way that makes you want to try harder. You don’t feel like you’re being cut down, you feel enabled.

She’s been really working us with the details lately, which I absolutely love. So often they fall through the cracks of assumption and it can cause you to look sort of choppy and edgy rather than smooth and crisp like you need to, all because you just don’t realize it what you’re doing isn’t quite up to par.
Yesterday, she made a comment when we were doing a combination that involved going up into passe. She wanted us to get there quickly, and not drag it on. We were coming to passe after doing a pirouette at the barre. So, pirouette, hold it, then go to front attitude. But often we were finding ourselves struggling to hold everything together after the pirouette, thus making it difficult to get into the attitude.

She said, “You have to pull it together.Hold it together, even if you’re struggling to get around, do what you can to engage your core and hold it all together so you can get there.” (paraphrased, but you get the point.)

Instantly my mind thought how relevant this is.

Not to say that you have to bottle up your emotions and never let them out or ignore any bit of emotion, not that at all.

Rather, that when life is crashing around you, when everything gets all wobbly and loose, when things aren’t clear, hold it together; keep your composure, keep a level head. Don’t let yourself freak out and throw everything away just because life threw you a curveball. Because really, the curveballs make us who we are. They test us and show us our limits and teach us new things about ourselves and the world around us. You just have to figure out how to not let yourself give up completely and throw in the towel. You have to remind yourself that you can do this and hold it together until it’s proven.

Pull it together. Hold it together. Even if you’re struggling.

It’s heart.

In the V’s class yesterday, my IV’s teacher came in to run the festival piece with the girls going one more time before they leave Wednesday. She also teaches the Advanced classes and choreographed a few pieces for festival this year.
The rest of us that were there got to watch, which was about half the class.
We lined up at the mirror to face them with excitement to see what was bound to be a beautiful dance.
Before they got started, Ms. Lori asked the rest of us, “Who all is in Wizard of Oz?”
We raised our hands.
She said, “It’s looking really good! Your expression is so serious, what are you called?”

Everyone got a little confused, because most of them are Emeralds or Poppy’s or both, or some various trio or duet or character and most are supposed to have pleasant looks on their faces.
Then someone said it, “Winkie Guards.”
She was talking about my group.
But I was the only one in the room from that group.
So I thanked her and expected her to say something towards the Emeralds as well since they were also at Sunday’s rehearsal.
But she didn’t.

I don’t know if she just didn’t see it, or if she was really that impressed with us Winkie Guards, who it seem have had nothing but critiques on our lack of character and focus.

The girl sitting next to me is one of my friends in the Crow’s dance, and she made some joke about the Emeralds just kind of being there and I said, “my time has come!” and threw out my arms dramatically and we laughed.

It made me happy.
It shocked me a bit.
To be in a room full of some of the best dancers in our entire company and studio and to be the one complimented.

I guess what they say is true,
Technique can only take you so far. It’s heart that really matters.

Thoughts.

Today’s rehearsal was the first longer one of a large amount of future long days.
There were many of the larger scenes all together, and it left for many things to be observed.
I thought about how far I still have to go in dance. I thought about how far I’ve come. I thought about how far my friends have come in short amounts of time. I thought about where I could be had I been dancing longer. I thought of how dancing longer may have lead to me feeling burned out rather than as passionate as I do.
I thought of many things.

Then I had one of the little ones next to me. I saw how they went at everything with confidence, unafraid of opinions of people around them. I thought of dancers I’ve gotten to see grow and learn.
I thought of how babies don’t just take off at a run, but have to first learn to crawl, then stand, then walk, then run.
That dance is a similar process. You can’t just start ballet and expect to be perfect a year later. You have to go through the process of learning. It’s easier to accept that when you’re younger than it is for people to accept that as an adult, but the process is the same.
You begin ballet. Then as you learn and progress, you get a little more confident and start learning more complex moves and combinations and start making what you know more challenging. Then you get pointe shoes and have to re-learn what you know to compensate. You don’t just get your shoes and become amazing, it’s a whole process in itself. You get your shoes and learn how to not hate them. Then you learn balance and have to strengthen your muscles. Then you learn how to roll through and scoop. Then you put all of this together and start doing what you knew on flat shoes, just on the tips of your toes.
It takes time and it’s a process,

As an adult, it’s more difficult to remember that you are not immune to the process.
It takes time. It is a process.
You’ll get better if you stick to it, and thinking of the future can be overwhelming as a young adult. But you can’t let that scare you.
Just keep going.
Don’t get anxious.
Take it one class at a time.
Keep pressing.
Keep working hard.
You’ll get there. You’ll improve.
Your hard work isn’t for nothing.

Dance-World.

The Royal Ballet does this cool thing where they’ll live stream a performance into theaters around the world, and somehow Corpus Christi is cool enough to be one of those theaters.
The schools here are on spring break, so our studio follows their schedule for their breaks and scheduled ours this week as well. The showing of Swan Lake happened to fall during our break, giving us the perfect opportunity to go since we didn’t have classes.

Not having classes had more of an effect on me than I thought it would.
I’m really glad for the teachers to have a break, especially with the show going on, and I’m grateful to give my body a break with my knee and ankle flaring up, but mentally is where it ended up effecting me in ways I didn’t expect.
I had time and it got spent pretty quickly between friends and photography clients outside of the dance world. Most of this was wonderful, albeit exhausting with it’s long days/nights, but the pros far outweighed the exhaustion. Except for this one day.
I’ve known these friends for quite a while, but it seems they’ve grown without me. It makes sense; they are active in the same things and it has nothing to do with dancing so we’re around different people and places and scenarios. Which is fine, right? Friendships shouldn’t have to be so set and specific all the time. If they really care about you, it’ll last even with distance.
And it has. We’re still friends, but the attitude difference took me by surprise.
I found myself feeling shame for things I’m passionate about. Or stupid for liking the things I like. I found myself feeling like being a ballet dancer was somehow a weak thing and nothing to be proud of. That it wasn’t as good as whatever it is their doing and therefore made it something to be laughed at and looked down on.
Long story short, it was very frustrating.

Now, I’m not gonna go cry in a corner over hurt feelings or anything like that; moreso it bothered me because I don’t know how to react to it. Instinct is to chunk the deuce and avoid them since I don’t like the after taste left, but these people are important to me and I don’t want to just throw it all away. Plus, I don’t think any of it is intentional. I think it’s mostly influence–I act differently than them because my influences are different, and vise versa. It’s at least logical.

I found myself doing a self-evaluation–I want to make sure I’m not contributing negativity to this situation and that if I’m going to stand my ground, it’s done in a positive way and not in a way to just heap on more coals or make someone else feel how I’ve been made to feel.

Then I went to the Royal Ballet showing, and being surrounded by my dance friends, my heart felt light again. We made ballet puns and marveled over children’s insane arches and 32 fouettes, with the first 8 being DOUBLES and all of it flawless–things non-dancers just don’t understand. I emerged myself in the ballet-world ocean and let it wash over me and remind me who I am and what I love and that it makes sense.
During intermission I was talking with one of my adult dance friends that I was sitting with and I mentioned how (long conversation condensed) my friends look at me and my ballet and think that I’m weak, physically and emotionally. That I’m somehow not tough because ballet is my passion and it’s not as difficult or whatever as other things. She looked at me and said, “Your friends at the studio??” to which I said, “No! Oh, no, not those friends! No, the non-dance friends.” and explained a little better. She laughed and said, “Oh! I was gonna say, no one thinks that of you!” Which, without even meaning to, made me feel great. To know that the people who know this world and what it requires don’t see me as weak. That’s all the validation I need.

I can’t expect people not of this ballet world to understand what it’s like. Just like how there are certain things that I believe spiritually that I just don’t expect people who weren’t raised in this to understand. It doesn’t make them any less than me, just different. They still deserve respect. That doesn’t change. And in the same aspect, I feel I still deserve some respect for my art.
Unless you’ve strapped on a pair of tights and sweat your way through a ballet class, you don’t get a say in if what I do is weak. It’s not. It takes a lifetime of training and dedication. All that, and it requires us to make it look easy and effortless, which is even more difficult.

TL;DR My dance friends have a way of reminding me that I have a place in this world where I belong, even if life-long friends cause me to question it sometimes. I am who I am, and I don’t need to apologize or alter it for anyone.

🙂

Future

Sometimes I take a step back and think about how much I love being able to dance like I do right now. I get lost in thoughts of the future and plans on how I hope to improve and where I want to be as the years pass on.

Then I remember.

I’m twenty-six.
I’ll be twenty-seven this year.
I could be married and have kids in the next few years.
Not that this is anywhere in the foreseeable future, but my life has a funny way of changing at the drop of a hat.

What would I do then?
How can I expect to get into a relationship if I’m dancing three days a week and up to six during rehearsal season, which happens twice a year?
I think about my adult ballet friends who are married and some have kids and see how they have successfully managed it.
But they are way farther along than me. They had been dancing a decade or two before that happened, whereas I’ll hit year four this October, making a vast difference in my ability to come back if I decide to.

Who’s to say that whoever I end up with won’t be supportive of this addiction of mine? He very well could be. I won’t know until he’s around. But at the same time I’m not going to cut my pursuits of dance short in anticipation of something that may or may not happen.

Then I think about how much I love where I am. I think of all the great people I get to dance with–those at my level and above/below me–and the friendships I’m making and how much it makes my heart so happy. And I think of how all of those things could change in an instant as well–someone could move (as one of the girls already is this summer) or could have to stop dancing because or responsibilities or could get pregnant and have to take a hiatus or could get injured (as we’ve seen with my dear friend whose been out for a few months but thankfully will be back soon!!) or a number of other things. I’ve already been at a studio that closed, so I know abrupt and life changing things are always possible. But I also know that even though these may not be my favorite thing to happen, that I’ll figure out a way to deal and manage as they come.

I guess that’s part of the reason why I try not to take a single class or rehearsal for granted. So often dancers think there’s all the time in the world for this and specifically lately I’ve seen some of the girls really antsy to leave rehearsals and get this show over with, often counting down to the exact minute that we get out of rehearsal. It makes me sad, because sure, more than likely we will have more shows and more opportunities and more roles to learn and perform, but whose to say we’re that lucky? And even if so, we’ll never have this show with this group of people ever again. Chances are, we won’t be around long enough to see this show done again (save for The Nutcracker) and even if so, more than likely we won’t be this role.
And every role is important. Without each of them, the show would be incomplete. It may not be the most glamorous or admirable role, but it is part of the make up of the story, and if it wasn’t there, the story would be incomplete. It’s our job to make the roles believable to help tell this story and make the audience glad they came, not able to read our insecurities or attitudes all over our faces.

You only get one shot at right now.
That’s it.
Once it’s over, you don’t get it back.
I would sure hate to live what I have with only half my heart and lose it all, only to look back with regret.
So.
If you’re dancing and feel like you’re at a point where you just don’t feel too alive with it anymore, take a step back and find a way to remind yourself why you love it.
For me, not just in dance but in all areas of life and in living in general, I do this with kids.
If I ever get rundown or burned out, let me spend time with a 2-12 year old and I’m set.
There’s a light in their eye that reminds you of why you do what you do.
It reminds you of the light that was in your eye that made you pursue this in the first place.

Remind yourself why you love it
And enjoy every step on the road
Cause all roads end, and you don’t want yours to leave you feeling empty.

And whether it does or not is entirely up to you.

(end passionate rant.)

Push the limits.

Yesterday’s class started off rough but ended on a high note.

I’m nowhere near where I want to be in my training, and I know I have to work hard to get there. But yesterday it felt like all my flaws were screaming out as Ms. Lori and Ms. Munro were watching. I was embarrassed and unsure of what the problem was–is it something I need to work through, or is something wrong with me? Both are high probabilities–and had to take a mental moment to pull myself together so they wouldn’t see my struggle.
There’s no time for that.
You have to make the split second decision. Are you going to fight through? Or are you going to tap out and not know your full limits?
How will you improve if you don’t push the limits?

So even though I was shaking and didn’t know why, even though I felt I couldn’t breathe, even though my head felt really weird, I kept going.
I pushed myself through shaking legs and frazzled emotions and kept going.
I have to be better. I have to try harder.
I can’t wimp out.

It wasn’t perfect. There were brief moments where I didn’t push it–mostly out of fear that I’d hurt myself or something, and I had already proven I could do what was being asked, which was a big thing for me as I was mostly proving it to myself–but I at least tried it. I didn’t wimp out. I didn’t make excuses. I faced that mirror and I did what I could and I dusted off the words my head was telling me.
There’s nothing I can do about it at this moment.
It won’t always be this way.
please don’t let me be lying to myself.

Despite it all, I finally felt a bit of improvement with pointe. I felt more comfortable in my shoes. I felt a smidge more confident. I felt like maybe this will be okay and I’ll keep working hard and get to where I want to be. That all is not lost. Maybe I’ve finally broken through that barrier of fear that’s been holding me back.
If you’re afraid, that’s when you’ll get hurt. You have to trust yourself and go confidently towards what you want. If you fall or fail, you get back up and learn from it. Failure shouldn’t define you, it should guide you.

Class carried on.
We worked on recital, and I felt myself soaring through bits I had previously been nervous about.
I felt myself improving.

We moved into the bigger studio when the other class was done and ran it as they were all still leaving.
Their teacher–a noted strict one who doesn’t take funny business–stayed and watched us.
The pressure was on. Most of the girls didn’t feel it because most are unknowing of his expectations. I wasn’t afraid, just aware. I did my best. I focused as hard as I could. I counted and followed and lead and everything else.
We finished.
He applauded.
He complimented our teacher, said it’s looking good.
He told us to imagine how good it would look if we pointed our feet.
Then.
He complimented us.
I get back to the side we start on before running it again and look at the other V and said, “Did you hear that? Brian just complimented us. And we had a silent freak out together because that never happens.
We ran it again, we added in the new bit and brainstormed how we would end it. Ms. Munro was there and she seemed really pleased with the dance. Ms. Lori is the sweetest most humble lady ever.
Toyed with the idea of adding more music to the dance since we cut out the into to the first bit, but it’s a bit long already, but that’s okay.
I’m so happy.
I love this dance.

I want to work harder, but then I wake up in the morning to sore ankles and realize I’m probably doing all I can at the moment and shouldn’t push it too hard. Time will show this is worth it.

After class

Tuesday

I think I’m really going to like Tuesday’s class.

Ms. Alex knows just how to kick our butts and really work our technique to get to those muscles that are pivotal and sometimes neglected.
I left class sweating like a pig and excited for the next time we have class.

Most of my thoughts on the class are left for the journal, or may not even make it on paper. But overall, I really liked it and am glad I decided to sign up. I only wish I would have sooner, but better late than never, right?