Yesterday was a rough day, and if you asked me what was wrong, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you.
I tried figuring it out, but I couldn’t get any solid reasoning.
It was just a weird day.
These happen occasionally, and usually when they do I find myself wanting to be around nobody. Not because I don’t like people, but because people tend to not understand when I’m quiet and not my “happy, bubbly self” and that can prove to be really overwhelming to me.
I debated going to dance class. I love dance and it makes me feel most alive out of anywhere and is one of the few things that can shut off my over-thinking, but sometimes it can prove counterproductive.
I was afraid to go in case this was one of those counterproductive days.
Those are the most difficult.
I got a simple text from a dance friend asking if I had seen the sky today. She said she looked at it, saw how particularly beautiful it was that day and that she needed to tell me. I smiled. I knew I needed to at least try to let dance be what I hoped it would be for me today. If I didn’t go, then it would for sure not be a solution.
I let myself cry the whole way to class. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you that, because it’s an extremely vulnerable thing for me to say since people don’t typically see me sad and I don’t want pity or whatever, but it’s part of it so there you go.
I get to class and there are only four of us there, three being from the Jazz class before our ballet class. I was quiet, and one of the girls noticed, but I tried to be level and normal about it.
We start class, and Mrs. Alex is using classical covers of popular songs that I have never heard before. My heart begins to feel lighter.
We started with simple plies at the barre, focusing on our epaulement and not just going through the motions. I felt a little bad because usually when she explains something, I’ll try and be encouraging, showing that someone is listening and that what she’s saying is making sense, because I know the girls typically stay quiet. (at least the ones there yesterday.) But even I was quiet.
We went through the next combination, and Mrs. Alex walked around and gave corrections as she saw them. At one point she said, “Take a breath, make it fluid.” And I literally took a breath as I went along. Mrs. Alex happened to be looking at me and she said, “Good, Emilee!” As she continued on. When we finished, and she explained different things to fix and corrected a few girls specifically, she mentioned me, and how I did really well at making it fluid.
This is new to me. This is something I really want to work on, but have never really done successfully. Honestly, I just thought of my friend Abby, who is one of the principals, and how she does barre work and how she makes it fluid and being like a little kid and pretending I was her because imitation has to get you closer somehow, right?
My heart began to lighten.
I’m doing something right. I’m improving.
It’s not a mistake being here. I belong. And not just because I feel good at the moment.
Class carried on and we did things in the center and from the corner.
One of the songs was a version of The Pink Panther which instantly makes you feel like you need a trench coat and hat. Mrs. Alex says that the combination is going to be an ode to Crows and begins with a bit of the choreography from the Oz role. It ended with a pirouette in plie, which was unheard of for most of the girls. (so. much. fun.) The whole combination had me feeling great and really loosening up. The girls had fun with it and really started getting the hang of the whole thing.
Then we did a move we had never learned before, which shocked Mrs. Alex. I don’t remember the correct name for it, but essentially it’s a prance-y, soutenu turn in the air. They feel really funny at first, but look really cool. I was glad to get to learn them.
(This is my favorite part about taking Tuesday classes. We don’t work on recital so we are able to learn new things that we’ve seen but never tried.)
By the end of class we were getting the hang of them, but still a little funny. I asked Mrs. Alex to dumb it down for me since for some things I have to have an extremely technical breakdown for it to click. In this case, I was trying to hard to land it in fifth instead of chasse-ing through fifth. After getting that tip, I was better able to understand and execute the move. Still a little rough, but better, and it will improve with practice.
As we were leaving, I asked Mrs. Alex what I need to think about to better improve my grande jete’s. We never really went over them at my old studio, so I just kind of go about life pretending like I’m doing them right but I’m not very confident in them. I asked if it would be the plie, since that’s what I struggle with the most with my knees.
She gave me a look of confusion.
“Your jete’s never look bad to me. Not that I’ve noticed.”
I laughed and was awkward like I usually am and mentioned that they feel like they just kinda cap. Like I’m a sheep jumping over a fence rather than a split in the air, if that makes sense. She said she didn’t notice but she’ll start paying more attention to them now.
So I’m not as bad as I think I am?
After class, while speaking to our receptionist lady about crocheted blankets, I asked how the summer classes work. I know they have workshops during the day that I won’t be able to attend because of stupid work, but was curious what was available in the evenings. She highlighted the ones available on the entire spectrum and told me pricing for the different options (a bit steep for me, but I’m going to find a way to make it work somehow. I have to dance.) and I noticed that they were a bit more advanced. I said, “Will I be able to handle these classes?” and without missing a beat she said, “Of course you will! You’re one of the most confident dancers I’ve seen!” I laughed. And in my head is an ongoing dialog about how I’m really not confident, I just fake it til I make it because the repercussions of pretending you’re confident are way easier to handle than showing your insecurities. If no one knows, then you only have to deal with yourself.
Fake it til you make it.
But then my friend Andie was next to me, and she told me that I would be find.
“Emilee, you did advanced classes at Instep. You’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, but when you had to drop recital and I was the cover, she reblocked it because I couldn’t keep up. And if this is on pointe, I don’t know if I can handle it.”
“You’ll be fine. You can handle it.”
The thing with Andie is, if you can’t handle it, she’ll tell you.
If you’re just not there, she’ll tell you.
(only if you ask, though, she’s not a jerk just flaunting her opinion.)
She’s a really good friend to have, especially in the dance world, because if there’s something that needs work she’ll let you know and help you figure out how to improve it. Especially with turns.
It struck me to hear that the things I used to say as a sort of buffer so that people knew that I knew that I wasn’t all that good used to be accepted by people, because they were relatively true. But now when I say them, people are telling me they’re not true.
And I don’t think it’s just because they’re nice.
There’s a difference. A facial expression, a tone, a certain pitch their voice will take or words they’ll use to skirt around the topic.
Those weren’t used.
Andie said I could handle it.
And she’d be the first to tell me if I couldn’t.
I’m glad I went to class yesterday.
Started ballet late October of 2011 at the age of 23.
Began pointe training late August of 2013.