"I know I don’t really know you, but…"

Yesterday was a weird day for me personally.
(Who am I kidding, its been a weird past few weeks.)
And part of me just wants to avoid everything, to be alone, to press the pause button and stay away from any human contact until the funk decides to pass.
This is, obviously, illogical and would also void me of learning some pretty valuable life lessons.
Sure, there is a time to take a break and put things on pause, but if you do that any time things get hard you miss out on opportunities to grow and become a better person, as well as little bits of light that lie just around the corner. You’d never have known they were there if you paused everything–if you avoided everything for a bit to catch your breath, you would have missed this breath of fresh air.

There’s a dance mom I’ve spoken to a few times; she lives out in our neck of the woods, has had similar health issues as me, knows who I’m talking about when I tell her about my doctor, etc. Her daughter is sort of new to our studio and they are friends with my beloved Rowland’s, so I automatically like them. Her daughter is a doll and they are really great people.
Yesterday was Julie’s VI’s ballet. It was a relatively smaller class than usual, but one of my favorites of hers to date. I stood at the barre by the mirror, which I’ve never done before. Matthew said I would hate it because of the tape, (I hate the tape) so I kept that in mind and tried to avoid it. But I actually found it beneficial when doing ronde de jambes. I was able to place it to where it was directly center so I knew when my foot was directly in front of and behind me. It helped me get the feel for it, and I could also hear the sound of it (so I’m not looking down) and know when I was where I needed to be and what wasn’t far enough or too far.
I was standing next to Jessica at the barre (my fellow Rat Queen) with Sean (Rat King) on the other side.
For some reason, this class felt good. It wasn’t overwhelming or leaving me anxious. It was a challenge, and I was determined to try. And not even in a huge, monumental way. I just told myself, “try your best, don’t quit early” and did it. My knee was largely cooperating which I think helped substantially, but I also think it was the combinations we were doing that were relatively easy on my knee as well.
Ironically, I was actually prone to messing up the combination, which is usually what I’m good at. But I tried everything she asked us to try. For some reason, my muscles were really sore when I woke up yesterday, which typically doesn’t happen, so I was already struggling in that department. I was also feeling pretty sick. (I had gotten sick a lot that night before and a bit that morning, but had it under control. It may have lead to me not eating enough for such exertion, but I did my best.)
(Helps that Julie is my age and gets it.)
She gave corrections to Jessica and to Sean. She may have told me something once, but I couldn’t really hear what she said and it was at the end of something.
I held balances longer than usual and really tried to get my attitude devant highter while maintaining turn out. (which was actually easier. So, hey, they aren’t lyin’!) That made me feel good about the class, too. That I was able to hold things in second, and get that attitude higher, and actually think to straighten my standing leg.
By the end of class, I was feeling pretty weak. I didn’t want to show it too much because I don’t want to be labeled as weak or incapable. I want to just push as much as I need to and then back off. I knew I was only there an hour, so I did all I could for that hour (having to do some releve on flat instead) and took a moment to breathe before I left to go home.
While I was breathing, there were a few dance mom’s in the foyer. The one turned to me and said, “I was watching you, in class.”
To which I responded, “oh, God.”
And she said, “You looked so good.”
I don’t know if I gave her a stank face or confused face or really what my face did or my reaction at all.
She continued, “I don’t know the terms for things, but you had your arm out like this, and it was perfectly timed to your leg extending out, and your head and everything. I don’t know what it’s called, but I do know what looks good and what draws me in during a performance, and you did that. You drew me in and you were beautiful.”
And meanwhile I’m sitting on my bench, in a state of shock that she was talking about me.
And I told her how one of my goals I wrote down for the year was to get my arms down. To look like Lauren, essentially. I want to figure out what it is that makes the difference she seems to have. I told her how at my old studio, my teacher always got onto me for my arms, and so I’ve been really working hard on them.
She told me again how impressed she was by me, and I sat there in that state of shock, and then thankfully remembered to thank her because in my head I was thinking, “But I wasn’t even actually trying this time…”
(I mean. I was in shock.)
I mentioned how I always wondered if I was doing it right. No one ever got onto me so I assumed it wasn’t wrong. Mrs. Jacie told me if I was wrong they’d definitely let me know. But I haven’t been complimented in class either to know it’s right. Which is probably a good thing. Because in VI’s, that level is what’s expected. So more often than not, you’ll just hear if you’re wrong. And this is good.

It’s not a compliment I often hear. And it’s not one really lounging around in my head.
To me, I’m just sub-par still. I have a ways to go. I’m improving, but still needing improvement. I’m not quite there with my fellow VI’s or even some V’s. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me and I shouldn’t get my hopes up because these classes are full of really great dancers so competition is fierce. How I’m an adult dancer, so I miss some of the things that are really taught as you rise up through the ranks and I’m left to figure it out on my own.
I am really in a good place to have resources to help me feel these gaps and people willing to help me, as well as dance friends and especially dance friends my age or older. I’m also in a great place where they are letting me take this advanced class to get the exposure.
To know that, in that advanced class, the one that’s really probably a little too much for me, someone I barely know noticed that I had the thing I want most in my heart to have when I dance… I can’t even explain.

I told her I was gonna blog about it.
Obviously, I was serious.

But really, it meant more than words could ever say.
Kindness is free, y’all.
I had a friend tell me once a few years ago that if you had a nice thought about someone, you should tell them. Doesn’t matter if you feel awkward about it, what would it hurt?
So now I make a point to give compliments, even if they’re awkward. Sometimes I lead with “This is an awkward compliment, but…” and they usually leave with a smile on their face.
Point being, you never know when its going to be exactly what the person needs to hear in that moment. The light to their darkness. The confirmation they have been hoping for.

Say it.

Also, I met my mystery comment-er yesterday!
I had received a comment on a blog this summer from someone who had found my blog and was taking the adult classes at the studio. I have no idea how she found it and had no clue who she was, but yesterday she introduced herself. Turns out, we both have a mutual love for the same London-based bag company and she noticed mine and complimented me on it. She hasn’t been able to take classes in the year since the adult classes start later, but I’m so glad she took in the summer and I really hope she does so again whenever they get earlier.
I’ve never had that happen before, and it was really cool.

Nutcracker Casting 2015

The day is upon us.
That fateful day when our Assistant Director walks in the door clutching the very thing dreams are made of.
It also happens to be the crusher of dreams.
For me, it’s just, “meh.”

(Okay, not meh but way less exciting than for the younger girls.)
(Or… so I thought.)

If you have been following along in my ballet story, you will know that there were certain roles that I was hoping for. These were goals I had set out to accomplish, hoping it would give me a leg up for Swan Lake, which is really what I want to accomplish.
I knew going into it that in the hierarchy that is Nutcracker, my next role in line would be Petit Fleur. After that, Lilac, and after that, Rose. Typically, if you’re a flower at all, you’re also snow. My goal was to pass up Petit Fleur–which is typically more posing than dancing–and go to Lilac. It was a stretch, but the summer felt promising and I was really improving. Ms. Munro has been watching me. I was allowed to take the VI’s class, which I wasn’t expecting but was very exciting.

The list goes up. I step to the back and let the girls see first. I hear squeals and everyone looks at Annika. She got Clara! We weren’t expecting that, since she’s so good, so I went forward to see who the Clara’s were. And it’s a fabulous group of them–really strong dancers that will impress this year. Annika, Lauren, Alyssa, and Maddison. I’m so beyond thrilled for these girls. I feel some of them may have felt they missed their shot last year when the age range for Clara’s went down so much, but this year it’s their time to shine, and shine they will.

I glanced at the Lilacs. I glanced at the Lilacs continued page.
My name wasn’t there.
I looked at Petit Fleur.
Bingo.

My heart sank a little bit.
I think I knew deep down I wouldn’t get to skip up, but it was given hope when in Oz I was doing the same roles as one of the girls that level above me, and doing them well, and then also when I was allowed into VI’s. Not to mention, everyone telling me I could totally do it. I was sad, but I tried not to show it. I stepped back and waited to look where everyone else ended up.
Emerson came back to me and said she was Petit Fleur and Snow. I was glad to know at least I’m with my girls again. They really make it fun. I asked if she saw my name for Snow, and she said she didn’t.
Wait, what? Usually when you’re one, you’re both? I asked one of the other girls from my class, and she was also both. Why am I not both? I can totally do both. What gives?
Whatever. I’ll look at the list when people file out a bit more. Maybe she just didn’t see it. It’s no big deal. I’ll have fun regardless.
At this point, I’m not like, freaking out or anything. I’m not upset or mad or whatever. Just kinda there.
I’m watching all the other girls find out their roles and watching their reactions, which is a welcomed distraction in my waiting.
Then Annika comes up to me and says, “Emilee! You’re Rat Queen!”
WHAT.
I just looked at her. I asked, “Are you sure?” and she said, “I mean, pretty sure!”

I find my way to the board and try to find where Rat Queen is listed.
Sure enough, there’s my name.
Sharing with Jessica, one of the best dancers in the studio.
(And also someone that has been really inspiring for me. Her work ethic is insane, and I’ve gotten to watch the results that come from it. It gives me the motivation to work hard, knowing it’ll happen for me too in time. I really appreciate having her in class.)
So then I’m freaking out.
That’s why I’m not Snow. I’m freakin’ Rat Queen!!
I remember last year hearing someone complain about being this role. (why do people always complain about the roles I am?) And I remember sitting in the seats and hearing her and thinking, “Give it to me, if you don’t want it. This role is awesome!”
It’s an absolute blast.
You have on the giant rat head, and get to be super sassy, and interact with the Rat King and Nutcracker and the other rats and rat princesses and mice and stuff.
Did I mention I get to be sassy?
I’m really excited to get to be sassy.

The more that this set in, the more I was really pleased with my casting.
Especially with what the doctor had told me earlier that day:
We got into discussion about my knees hurting. I told her the whole happenings with the chiropractor and my back and my legs being uneven and showed her the xrays and she asked me questions about it and I answered them. I told her how they told me 3 1/2 years ago that I had arthritis and sent me for physical therapy. She asked if they mentioned my leg being longer then, and I told her no.
She examines my knee. Asked if this and that hurt, which it didn’t. She poked here and there, and again no pain. She asked where the pain was, and I told her it shoots under the knee cap. It typically doesn’t hurt when it’s at rest, but with use and during class when I plie a lot. She looks at the right knee and pokes this one part. “You can see the right knee is swollen. See this? That’s fluid.”
Oh.
So it’s not arthritis, I have fluid on my knee.
She wants to get an MRI and look into it more. I’m glad she is so invested in me and interested in all of the issues instead of just surface or what I tell her. She investigates, and she cares that I get better.

So, no. I’m not Lilac. I’m not even Snow. But the roles I have will be really good for my knee (Even though Petit Fluer is a lot of kneeling) and will help, I think.
And that doesn’t mean that I’m out of the running for Swan Lake.
I’m also not guaranteed. And I think my knee will be a big deciding factor.
I asked Mrs. Alex if she thought it would be more the older girls or if I had a shot, and she said it’s very uncertain right now.
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I’ll work my hardest, do my best, and take it as it comes. If it doesn’t happen, I just have to accept it. This can be difficult as my entire life seems to have been  a constant battle of barely missing the mark and having to be happy for my friends as I watch them enjoy what I can’t have–for whatever reason. There’s been times it’s been wrongful exclusion from politics. This isn’t that. But it’s still rough. I felt it last year, I feel it now, but it’s okay. Now I just take a moment I need to grieve the fact I missed the mark, then I pull myself up and get over it, working my hardest to be the best I can. I also try and make the most of the situation.
What people don’t realize is that I’m so inclusive because I’ve known exclusion my whole life. And the times someone included me was a game changer. People think I must have such a wonderful and perfect history since I’m so nice and kind or whatever, but really it’s the opposite. I’ve known great loss and pain and injustice, so I do the best I can to help others through it. I try to be what I wish I would have had.
There are times when it’s just a lesson the person needs to learn, and that’s fine. But when I can lessen the blow, I try my best to do so. I’m also human and imperfect and will still miss the mark, but I’ll give my best effort in what I know and take the lessons as chances to learn and grow.
(I’m not snow, so no snow secret santa for me. But I’m trying to scheme up ways I can still have fun and make someones day in secret. Hehehe)

TL;DR
I’m really excited to be with my girls in Petit Fluer, and really super excited about Rat Queen.
I told my parents, and they were really excited that I get to use my drama skills with this. Like, Dad legitimately sounded excited.
(I really want to prance around in the costume.)
(PLUS I get to hang out with the kids!)
(and this means I’ll be able to take pictures of snow again!)
(really I can’t lose, y’all.)

SPEAKING OF PICTURES

I stole this from Adrienne’s snapchat. She’s a Maid and we’re pumped about it!

(stolen again)

(and stolen from Annika)

(fun fact, at first I had an excited face when she came up to me with her phone, but she said, “Look dead.” so this came of it.)

(perfect.)

(annika again)

The girls waiting anxiously

It’s blurry but YO HOME GIRL IS RAT QUEEN

And look! they spell it correctly!

So yes.
And I’m really freakin’ excited for Annika. She’s Clara, then also Russian and Spanish on nights she’s not Clara. So it’s new roles for her and really exciting. Plus, I just feel so proud. Like, here’s my baby Shrub, and she’s mine. And we’re from the same studio, and we came here and newbs, and now look at her. And she’s Clara. Two years ago, Nutcracker wasn’t even a thought. And now she’s doing this and all these people are so happy for her and celebrating her and I know how incredibly happy this makes her and it makes me happy. Because she’s so talented and it’s being utilized and she just keeps rising and my heart can’t take all the love! I fear I may burst!

Happy days 🙂

OH!!!!!
And Abarrane is a Mirliton!!!
She wanted this role so badly, and she was feeling pretty crappy at auditions but still managed to rock it anyway. And she got the role and my heart absolutely burst when I heard/saw. I’m so proud of her. She’s worked so hard and proven herself and overcome insurmountable odds to do so. I really hope she’s in class today so I can hug her.

That one time we danced in the dark.

Class started out pretty normal.
I had tap, but my tap shoe somehow managed to melt off to where the tap separated from the shoe.
But I didn’t lose the screw?

(It just got worse from here)

So I did tap in ballet shoes, which is a funny concept.
It was hard, but it was fine. Just really had to focus on the feel rather than the sound.
(arms were a joke.)

I think Julie likes having me in there because she knows I can help her when she needs it.
Yesterday, it was helping her write out what three different combos were for the girls who came in late or just struggled so they could practice at home.
(my hand writing is terrible, so this was hard, but they could read it. Bless.)
Class was fun, though. I’m kinda getting the hang of it.
I really enjoy it. My brain works in patterns and rhythms, so it’s a great combination.

My knee has been doing pretty alright. We did the whole class Tuesday en pointe, so the part I was there for was mainly barre. But I did better than I thought I would. I was able to think about my knee and realize where I still need work and what is getting better.

Yesterday barre went pretty well. My knee hurt a few times, but I’m figuring it out. (It’s hard, because letting my hips be uneven makes my back hurt. sigh. The struggle.) We put on our pointe shoes, and most of the things we did weren’t all that invasive. The parts that were, I just skipped and did on demi instead, and did en pointe what I could. The hard part was that it was so fast, so I struggle regardless. I would have been challenge on flat let alone with pointe shoes on.

Although, we had this combination that involved a lot of balancing, and though I’m still not perfect with it with pointe shoes on, I was able to do more than usual. It was a struggle, but it felt good. I was proud.

We had about 30 minutes left in class, marking a combination, when the power went out.
I stood still, heard some of the girls freaking out, and then felt a hand on my arm. One of my friends is really afraid of the dark, so I just stayed with her and reassured her; talking to her to get her mind off of it. About a minute later, the lights came back on.
We continued, and the first group did the combination.
I was part of the second group. We started doing the combination, and–conveniently–right when we get to the part when I realized I couldn’t remember what came next, the power went out again. I couldn’t find my friend, but the lights came back on again, so we started over and just continued on with class.

We learned this variation that mainly had to do with character and direction. We were about to start it when the power went out for a third time! I looked for my friend, but couldn’t find her again, and another one grabbed me and I held her. The power came back on again and I saw that my friend had been in front of me. She said she was okay, and we continued on and did the variation. At this point, we were starting to wonder what we should do about it. We had about seven minutes left in class, so we learned this other combination for across the floor. (Saute, back saute, tombe, pas de bourree, jete, grand jete) I really liked it and how it felt, and asked about the arms cause I kept switching them. I walked back to the corner where we were gonna start. My friend was tucking her ribbons, and I put my hand lightly on her back, and no sooner I did the power went off again. She laughed and grabbed my arm. It was like I knew it was about to switch off again.

This time it stayed off. We had five minutes left and we kinda waited to see what we were going to do. By this time, we had little lantern lights in our studio and the other one and could see at least something. Most of the girls flocked to the light, so I did the combination by myself because I loved it and how it made me feel.
Mrs. Alex had us do saute, jete, jete across the floor one by one twice on both sides. You could hear the girls giggling and from what you could see, they were giving it their all. Something about thinking you aren’t seen and you’re having a blast makes them really come alive.
A few of them had really just shown so much energy as a whole. Adrienne was one of them. She was really giving it her all and you could see it. She was beautiful to watch. And she and Allison had really pretty jete’s, even in the dark.

At the end of class, everyone got out their phones and took pictures of us in the studio in the dark. It ended up being really fun.

Between one of the off-and-on moments, Mrs. Alex told us about a time during a performance when the power went out and she was in the middle of a complex turn sequence. She kept going and when she finished the power came back on. Can you imagine? Talk about nerve wracking.

(This was us leaving the studio, seeing that businesses to our left were out as well, while businesses to the right were fine.)

The studio

I love this so much.

"Why do I even do this?"

Yesterday was rough.
It seemed like I found myself saying “I can’t” not because I didn’t want to try, but because my body physically wouldn’t allow me to do the things. The sentence ended with “yet” most of the time, but still it started to feel very harrowing.
These were things I needed to be working on, things I need to improve on, and I couldn’t do them because it would shoot pain into my knee, or it’s not strong enough yet.

I felt like a failure.
It was very overwhelming.
Worst of all, I felt exposed. My teacher knew and I couldn’t just blend in and pretend I could do all these things.
I felt defeated.

But that’s not what I really want to write about today.

Work has been rough, to say I’m over it is an understatement, but I’m trying to keep a positive attitude towards it since I’m there and I need it right now. I remind myself it isn’t forever and that for now I have to make the most of it. That “this too shall pass” and all that other good stuff.
I was thinking about ballet, and how I’m in the studio five days a week now. I thought of how dancing makes me feel and the place I’ve ended up in and how wonderful it is.
I thought about the seemingly-spontaneous decision I made almost 4 years ago to pursue this childhood dream of mine of dancing en pointe. I thought of my first class and how terrified I was to even look into classes, let alone take them. I thought of those first months and panicking in the corner at not being able to do seemingly simple things.

I thought about my first performance.
How overwhelmed I was at some of the steps, and how I would spend hours at home going over it until I had it. How I would search the internet for tips and tricks and explanations. How my parents didn’t want to come and it made me really sad.

I thought about my first recital. How I sat out recital my first year there, and was excited about it my second year there. I thought of the corrections my teacher gave me there that are second nature now. I thought of the photo day and all the people I’m friends with now. I thought of how my parents complained about seeing me dance that time too, especially about the parking and not having good seats cause they left too late like it was my fault.

I thought of my second holiday showcase. How I got to help with the babies and it was madness. I thought of how I decided then to dance for myself and no one else and if my parents or anyone else didn’t want to come I wouldn’t make them because it just makes me feel guilty for not being understanding of them not wanting to come or whatever. I thought of how I had to rush home after work to change to get to the studio in time. How I was always perpetually early to beat traffic so they started having me assist the baby ballet/tap classes.

I thought of Bailando and getting to take pictures and really committing to this.

I thought of my first pair of convertible tights.

I thought of asking my dance teacher if getting en pointe by the next year was feasible and her being uncertain.

I thought of the next year and how I was given the permission form two weeks before my 25th birthday (which was my bucket list goal–before 25.)

I thought of little arms around my neck as I took a group picture with my class I helped teach.

I thought of how my family didn’t come to my last dance recital at my old studio.

I thought of my studio shutting down.

I thought of how harrowing it was to find a new studio. How scary it was. How no one spoke to me when I was there so I would bring a book and pretend to be invisible as to not draw attention to myself. I thought of how out of my depth I felt and that they must be judging me in class. That they probably thought I should be better than I am and that I was a joke. How I felt I have to work harder to prove myself since I “don’t look like a dancer.” I thought of how I felt when I saw dancers who were good and not stick thin, that I could do it, too.

I thought of watching Nutcracker by myself because no one would go with me and my friends kinda sucked then but tried to make me feel like I was the sucky one (anyway) and how certain dancers would stand out to me.

I thought of my first Nutcracker auditions, and how the one friend I knew encouraged me. How I had to audition with the younger kids cause I knew my pointe was next-to-nothing and there’s no way I could keep up with the older group, even though I seemed to have the director fooled.

I thought of the disappointment in casting, but how I was going to make the most of it. How I wasn’t going to let other people make me feel like I was lesser for my casting. How I wouldn’t let my family’s comments on how I’m “only in the show for a minute and a half” bother me and not pressure them into coming to see me, even though it’d be my first performance en pointe.

I thought of how I rolled my ankle at auditions and how I thought of giving up all together since I couldn’t find good shoes. That it must be me. How I won a pointe shoe fitting contest through Capezio that changed everything.

I thought of my first Nutcracker season, and being sad it was over.

I thought of Oz and auditioning with 5s and wanting to quit again and how the entire show turned around for me. How I became friends with all these girls and how the dancers that stood out to me when I watched Nutcracker alone were now my friends and some of my biggest encouragers.

I thought of my first recital en pointe. How my parents came, got free parking, and afterwards told me, “you looked like a real ballerina up there!”

I thought of where I am now. How I’m at the studio 5 days a week without rehearsals. How Nutcracker casting is pending and I have no idea how I’ll be able to pull it off. I thought of the mom in the studio yesterday that told me, “If your parents ever don’t want you, I do.” I thought of the support that I get and how people believe in me. How people like me. And how weird and wonderful it all is.

And in all of this, I thought of what my life would be like if I had never taken that first step. If I had never faced the fear of the unknown and taken that first class. If I had given up all those times before. If I wouldn’t have pushed through.
I would leave work, and go home, and be by myself and probably miserable. I wouldn’t have near as many friends. I’d feel out of place since most the friends in my life are in different stages. How I would have nothing to take away the sting of how terrible work makes me feel. Nothing to strive for. Nothing to achieve. Nothing to feel accomplished with. Nothing to dedicate myself to. It would be like walking around sick with no medication to help.

Dance is my medication for the pain life gives me.
Dance is the sanity in my crazy world.
Dance is the clarity in a place that doesn’t make sense.
Dance is the comfort in my life of tragedy.
Dance is my friend when I’m alone.

What would my life be without dance?
Shallow. Limited. Insecure. Lonely. Sad.

Ballet has taught me, and helped me grow as a person. It has lead me to meeting wonderful people and having experiences I carry in my heart always. Ballet gives expression to the depths of me no one knows.

People in my life, those reading this, those who don’t even know about it–they don’t know the full me. The tragedy, the pain, the difficult things I’ve gone through. They see me in the after. They see me in my element, in the happiest state of being. Some of them know of hardships I have faced, and instead of treating me like a freak or some celebrity or something stupid, they walk beside me.

Ballet has given me things I could never replace or even known to have hoped for.

So on days like yesterday when everything feels overwhelming, and I find that thought in the back of my mind coming to surface of, “Why do I even do this? I’m never going to get past this. Who am I kidding?” I remember all the beautiful things the last (almost) four years has given me.

And I smile.
And say, “Try it one more time.”

It’ll all work out. It may not look the way I want it to, but it’ll solve itself. I’ll figure something out and I’ll keep fighting.

Nutcracker Auditions 2015

The day has come and gone where everyone in the studio breaks into three groups by level and does our best to execute whatever combinations our director throws at us.

Thank God.

My Saturday actually began at the ballet studio (not the company studio) substitute teaching three classes; a 6-7-8 ballet, a 4-5 ballet, and a 6-12 tap.
That’s right, tap.

The first ballet class was in the big studio. Half of the girls couldn’t care less to be there, and the other half seemed interested enough to try. I had no idea how to structure this class. So I asked the girls if they typically started at the barre. I gave them really simple stuff and just went with it.
(Also, before I had a grandma ask if she could stay inside and watch. Um. No. But I’ll crack the door so you can get pictures.) (sigh.)
The girls were really distracted. Worse than some of my tiny ones. I’m amazed at how some of these teachers can keep them in line, since I’ve always seemed to struggle.
We made it through class, that’s over.

Then the 4-5’s rocked my world.
They focused better than any class I’ve had (save the 9-12 ballet) and actually participated. So much that I ran out of things to do before our time was up. I winged it (wong it? whatever.) and managed. They started losing focus towards the end, but that was the least of my worries since they did so well in the beginning.
(Mind you, they were still a little distracted. Just, nothing like my other classes.)

The tap class only had 6 girls in it. One was in my rambunctious ballet class from that morning, and her sister was another.We started off with some warm ups, then we ran a few things from notes one of the teachers left. (I youtubed and made my own notes and then, ya know, forgot them.)
(It was a mess.)
(But, a successful mess.)

One of the girls flat out just lay on the carpet squares the whole time. Her sister joined her shortly after. They were only interested in the fun part.  Instead of insisting they joined, I just let them sit there, but no fun part if they didn’t participate. One of the older girls said she would rather work on things so that’s what we did. The three that cared got to learn new steps, and then do some of their favorite steps, and work on whatever they wanted to improve on. A fourth girl kinda went in and out on participating. When she did participate, she started showing improvement. She has potential, if she’ll work for it.
I was really proud of the three that participated. They learned new things and picked up on them really quickly. They improved on other things and really showed a lot of talent. Plus we had fun with it.
After class, the older sister who did nothing left class with the rest. I over heard a man’s voice who I think to be her Father say, “You need to apologize for wasting her time.” So she came in and apologized and I told her she was forgiven, but that next week she really needed to participate.
(Score one for Dad!)

I wasn’t feeling all that well to start off the morning, but I pushed through. By the time tap was over, I was getting pretty light headed. I went to get some lunch before auditions, but I was pretty hesitant. I knew I needed it to get through the hours of auditions, but I knew eating would make me sick. I ate anyway, hoping it would hit before they started.
It did. But then it didn’t.

I got there early, and was fine, until my stomach decided to digest at 2:57pm when auditions started at, ya know, 3pm.
It took everything in me to mind-over-matter enough to start that audition, my hope being that once we started I’d forget about it and push through.
(I did mention it to Elizabeth and told her if I looked pale to pull me.)
Barre went well. My stomach was angry, but I made it through. I did the grande plies and my knee was okay, I guess. I think I was too focused to notice too much.

When we moved to center, my stomach was forgotten about, but I was beginning to feel faint and fuzzy.
And of course I was in the first group. And of course Elizabeth was watching when I completely bombed the first thing we did.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Like. What else can I do? I’m sick and my knee is in pain and weak and I’m still auditioning. It’s rather comical in itself.

I did my best and did what I could. I’m a pretty terrible tester and therefore kinda suck at auditions as it is.
I have no idea what my face did. It could have been a perpetual “oops” or it could have looked like I was having the time of my life from laughing at myself.

We did these jete’s across the floor at one point. Four jetes. Arms in 3rd, arms in 5th, arms in 2nd, arms in 1st.
Apparently I switched 2nd and 1st, but I really don’t know arms so whatever. No one seemed to care. Everyone’s seemed different.
Now, I really suck at jete’s. I can’t get a good enough plie and my stomach sucks so whatever. But I did my best anyway. When we did them on the left side after a good firm scolding on how badly our arms sucked, I was off to a rough start (3rd person, ya know, after two claras from last year.) but I just went for it. At the end I heard Ms. Munro say, “Good arms!” and I finished off and was very pleased.
My jetes may suck, but I did what she asked, and I was the only one complimented.

So. That was nice.

We did parts from each dance, and I struggled with most. They know my knee is jacked up, though, so I did my best to do the combination anyway. I flubbed a few things, but oh well.
When it came to Russian, I sat out. Most of the work involved my bad knee and I know it’s not a role I’ll get anyway. I went up to Mrs. Alex and said, “Not because I don’t value the Nutcracker, but is it okay if I sit this one out? It’s on my bad knee.” She laughed and said of course and Emerson and I sat that one out. (She had sprained her right ankle pretty badly.)
Then the last thing they did was fouette turns which all of us had a choice in doing. I can’t do them on pointe, so I sat out.
Cheyanne, however, rocked them. I mean, everyone did well, but Cheyanne just blew it out of the water. I was so proud!

So, it’s over.
I’m pretty proud of how I did, even though it was rough. Just the fact that I could attempt this audition level was good for me. Last year there was no way I could. No way. The fact I’ve grown so much this year is enough for me.
They know how I dance, they know how I perform, they know what I’m capable of. They know I’m a hard worker and if I don’t know something I’ll figure it out. They know I’m reliable.
I’m not worried.

(But I’m so glad it’s over.)

At one point, when Ms. Munro showed us the Spanish variation, a swarm of girls all asked me different things at once. It was overwhelming, and I was uncertain myself. So I told them off, kinda. That this is an audition and they had to figure it out. Abarrane asked about an arm in one of the things, and it was something I knew the answer to and was simple, so I didn’t mind that. But man having everyone rely on me to the point I can’t take care of myself is too much.

It was an audition. It wasn’t a class. They’re watching everything you do. Act up and it could hurt you.

So yeah, it’s over, we should know in a week or two.
I’m not worried, but I’m also trying to not think about it. I did my best and I know they won’t give me something they don’t think I can handle. They’ll put me where they need me and I’m okay with that 100%.

Also, my audition number was 89, so Elizabeth and I decided that Taylor Swift was clearly my patronus that day.

Hi it’s been a week.

I have managed to make it through this week of classes.
We were off on Monday for Labor Day, which was good considering something bit my feet (again) and they swelled up and I couldn’t walk on them until Tuesday.
(Such a wreck.)
I had my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. I also showed her my bites and she was pretty shocked by them. She said if it happens again–especially before Nutcracker Auditions on Saturday–to just walk in and they’d be able to give me antibiotics and a steroid shot to help.
I like this lady already.

Tuesdays class went really well, I felt. My feet held up and my knee wasn’t too bad and my stomach was typical.

Wednesday I had been asked to sub two classes. A 4/5 ballet and a 9-12 ballet.
The 4/5 ballet felt like madness, but mainly because there were so many girls. They were pretty rambunctious and my music decided it didn’t want to work. I made it work though, and got through, and the kids seemed happy.
The 9-12 ballet was my favorite by a long shot.
I walk in and half the class was girls who were monkey’s in Oz. I opened the door, they saw me, and their faces lit up and they ran over to me to hug me. Talk about making me feel like I’m Taylor Swift. My teacher’s daughter was in that class as well. She’s a quiet type, but so incredibly sweet and kind, and seeing her face get excited when I walked completely made my day. I love this little nugget!
I worked them pretty hard, and they kept up really well. I saw them implementing corrections and really trying hard. They’re such a serious bunch, which is great. I made my typical sound effects and stuff, which made them laugh so that was great. (hehe)
One of the girls I didn’t know, Mona, really shows potential. To say I was impressed is an understatement.
At the end of class, I had them working on pirouettes. Just simple, from fourth, across the floor. I did it with them and by the end of it, man, I was landing beautiful turns. And my knee didn’t hurt. And life felt great.
They were rock stars and did so great in class. I love them.
Mrs. Alex told me she asked Elizabeth what she thought of class. “She makes funny faces and funny sounds, but I like her!” Score!
Next I helped assist Mia’s class for one of the other girls who couldn’t make it. She ended up only having 6 girls and it was a 3/4 class, but I was glad to do it because I had never seen a 3/4 class. They do it very differently from how we did it at Instep, but it works really well for them. I want to try and implement more of those styles when I teach that level, so I’m trying to remember the format she used. The girls stayed quiet and followed along, and it was just great. (Probably helped that there were only 6 kids.)

By the end of that, I’m dead. That morning had not been kind to me and the repercussions were still evident.
But I still had my own class to get through. And my last one before auditions, at that.
I warned Mrs. Alex about it beforehand, just in case. And I was kinda scared at this point. I felt faint and nauseated and weak. Just standing up left me dizzy and my vision fading. How did I expect to make it through ballet class?
Still, I did the 200 crunches she had us do. (Most I’ve ever done. And I was so sick. How. I don’t know. I’m just. What.)
We did the barre work, and I felt my brain starting to space. Thankfully, I had Emerson in front of me for the left side. It was a good little buffer having her in front of me so if my brain lagged, but body did it anyway.
A few of the things got me twisted up, which Mrs. Alex saw once when she complimented me right as I messed up. It was pretty funny though, and I think it actually happened twice. She was watching me, though. Which was great. And it all felt great. I remember standing there thinking, “why can’t I just be well? Why does this have to be a struggle? It doesn’t have to be.”
We put on our pointe shoes, and I joined with the premise that I needed to work on turns before Saturday.
By this point, I felt like I could fall over at any moment. And not even because my muscles were worked or whatever. It wasn’t a matter of laziness, but of my body just giving out on me.
Still, the first combination we did across the floor brought improvement. I learned and grew and was able to do more than usual. The second combination included turns, and my right side (which has my good knee) is actually looking better. Enough to feel okay going into Saturday. My left side is still weak, but at least I know what is holding it back. I can take the steps to improve on it. (And hopefully we won’t do that side at auditions. Fingers crossed.)
After that, I sat out. I told Mrs. Alex, and she made the comment that I was doing really well. I said, “imagine how good I’d be if I wasn’t sick.” without even realizing I was saying it. But I mean, really.

Mrs. Rowland made a comment about how she doesn’t know how I do it–how I push through. The way I see it is that I don’t have a choice. If I don’t push through, I’ll never get any farther than I am right now. What it comes down to is this is going to be a process to try and find a solution. It’s been a long term problem and it won’t be resolved over night. I don’t have any more time to waste so I can either sit it out when I don’t feel well and never do anything because I never feel well, or I can fight through it and just know on the worse days I may have to hold back a little.
I’m hoping I can start to feel better and soon. I’m hoping this won’t be forever, even though it’s all I ever remember feeling anymore. I’m hoping that maybe there’s hope. But until then, I’ll push through until I can’t anymore. I’ll do my best and leave no excuses.

I still forget that most people don’t know I’m sick, and those that do are pretty new to the knowledge. It’s nice to know that I’m doing my best and that my best is more than enough. Ballet has been rejuvenating for me in my life, showing me that I’m not all the things people have told me I am–weak, lazy, making excuses, dramatic, faking it, etc. That this really is something I should take care with and give myself the room for humanity that I need.

I have found myself in a beautiful place among such supportive people. Sure, no one is perfect, but this has been the greatest bit of humanity I have ever experienced. And for that I am grateful beyond words.

And now, enjoy an old picture of Cheyanne from before I knew her.
I creeped this shot after class one day because there was just something about her that just stood out and I couldn’t not document it. Now she’s one of my dearest friends 🙂

Hi, I’m human.

This week has been a rough one, to say the least.
I managed to make it through classes the last three days, only having to sit out the last two or so combinations in yesterday’s class, which was the longest of the week.

I saw my chiropractor yesterday, and asked him further about my knee. He said my right leg is longer and it is because it just is. That the reason it hurts is because I roll in that foot when I plie to compensate for the elevated hip on that side. Doing so is causing the knee pain, and also causing me to not work the correct muscles. This makes my right leg weaker, and is the reason why my releves and turns and everything else are harder on that side. (though my balance is better.) Now I just need to focus on doing specific work outs for that leg to gain strength, and in the mean time I have a brace that is actually helping this time around.
(I also taught him what the term plie is. He was pretty proud of himself. I’ll quiz him next appointment.)

That being said, I’m not able to go to class today. Last week was rough on me physically, and not just because of my knee. I’ve had issues with my stomach/internal organs for a few years now, and doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint why. So far, doctors don’t seem to be too concerned. Whatever.
Recently, it’s gotten to be something I can’t ignore. Last week I tried, but this week has left me shaking in ways I have never experienced, forgetful to the point I didn’t even know it was something I could be forgetting, and oddly dizzy, which isn’t good for a dancer. I would get home just in time to get physically sick (thankfully, and amazingly) and the details of it no one really wants to hear. (Except my pre-med friend. She gets all the juicy details.)
I’ve been looking into what I can do about all of this, since the doctors locally seem to be lost on what else to try. A friend suggested a doctor in Central Texas. I looked into it, but would need a referral. I tried to think through what was the best course of action; should I just try my doctor here again? Should I ask for the referral? Am I gonna get quizzed or yelled at for trying to go elsewhere? Is there even anything else she could do, if the last few times I googled to come up with what to do and told her and that’s how we figured that out?
I was speaking to one of the dance mom’s (Ya know, my biggest fan, Mrs. Rowland 🙂 ) and she suggested a clinic here locally. It would be considered out of town for most people, but since we both live in the boondocks, it’s not all that bad. Just as far as driving to the other one I go to, just the other way.
I was a big girl and called to see about an appointment, and they’re able to get me in on Tuesday, which surprised me since I’m a new patient. I’m incredibly grateful, though, since I don’t know how long I’ll last based on these last few days. I considered going to the ER last night, but I don’t trust it, so I’m going to try and tough it out and take it easy. (Don’t worry, Mrs. Rowland, if it gets too bad I’ll go.) (And I’ll let you know I’m there.)
I spoke with Mrs. Alex about it last night, letting her know what was going on. I have been having to tell my teachers about it each day so they don’t freak out if I suddenly leave or have to do something halfway or have that glazed look on my face. I was kind of expecting yesterday’s teacher to just kind of listen to me, then tell me a simple, “Okay, well just take it easy” type of thing, but she didn’t. She was genuinely concerned for me. It made me feel really cared about. Like, I know people care about me, but dang all this support from everyone is a new concept. I really like it.
I told Mrs. Alex, and let her know I had the appointment on Tuesday and all that. I asked her what her opinion was on Festival. (The studio goes every year. I’m older, but it doesn’t really matter which, for me, is really great because I didn’t have these opportunities when I was younger and to know I didn’t miss out completely is really cool. It’s in the Spring, and they take different pieces, and there’s incredible master classes–all really enticing.) I booked two weddings last week (woo!) which could cover the fees and stuff, but I found myself hesitant. She told me a little more detail about it, and after I told her about my fear I’d get placed in too high of a level and die (hah,) I told her. “Honestly, I really want to go, especially for the Master Classes, but I don’t know how I’ll be health-wise then. This could be simple, but what if it’s not? I don’t know if Festival would be too much with already having Nutcracker and Swan Lake. I want to do well with those.” It was a valid point. She agreed that it might be best to sit out this year, even if I didn’t want to have to. So I think that is my decision at this point. (sad face.)

In other happy news…
Last week, when I was in the office on Friday waiting for the class I was helping with to start (since I’m crazy early for everything all the time) one of the teachers I hadn’t met (until that day) was talking with Ms. Munro and Nancy about covering days she would be gone. They asked if I was interested in subbing, and how they thought I would be great at it. (“You were born to teach!” thanks Ms. M) There was another girl they were looking at possibly having cover, so I told them if she fell through, I could do it.
The other girl looked pretty promising. I forgot about it.
I walked into class yesterday, and Nancy asked me if I could do it. The other girl fell through.
I’d have to leave work a little early (darn.) and it would be two classes–a 3/4 ballet and a 9-12 ballet. I told her I could and asked her different things about it since I’ve only ever seen one 5/6 class here and it was last week’s.
During class, Ms. Munro came over while I was at the barre (hahahahaha, yeah, while Mrs. Alex was showing a combination. Not gonna lie, I felt really important) and asked if I could do Mia’s class this Friday. She needed to cover the Tap class at the same time, and the easiest solution was to move Mia to the Tap and have me do the Ballet class I help her with.
So. Here we go! I teach my first class tomorrow! You’re looking at the newest staff member at Munro Ballet Studios! (Officially tomorrow when I fill out the W-4. Woo!)

That’s a pretty exciting step in a direction I love. I know it’ll be even better once I’ve done these classes and realized it wasn’t a disaster and get my feet wet in it and kinda have a handle on it. To be the teacher in the class–the one in charge, not just the helper or moral support for the teacher–is a pretty intense concept.
Look mom, I’m a real adult!

(And now I can finally answer “Yes” when I tell people that I do ballet and they automatically ask “Oh, you teach?” since in their mind a near-twenty-seven-year-old couldn’t logically be a student.)
(hehe)