Updates (and pictures, hi)

I haven’t been posting as much because life is pretty overwhelming and sometimes that can spill over into the dance section of life.
I know much of this is temporary, so I’m trying to just get through the best I can with the least casualties.

A few updates, though:

Yesterday in the Jazz V’s class, I was paired with one of my little nuggets, Rachel, whom I haven’t seen in forever. We were given a set amount of time and a set piece of music to choreograph to. Our piece ended up being the only one largely praised. The main bit of corrections was things that would get better with practice and was in our original intention, so that’s cool. We came up with the concept, which we both kinda had separately and came together to put it together. I had to rely heavily on Rachel since I haven’t only taken last weeks class and haven’t had much Jazz before. Rachel had great ideas, and we put it together and made a pretty spectacular piece, if I do say so myself. Rachel isn’t shy, which makes it so much easier to work with–especially in a time crunch. I was really proud of us.
They started passing out the recital forms, and I asked Heidi if I could be in the Jazz V’s piece. I was going to mention it’s okay if not, or if she didn’t think I was quite up to it I understood, but her eyes got wide and she was really excited I asked. She said “We could definitely use you, you’re a solid base” to which I started singing Meghan Trainer, and laughing because I’ve always been a solid base my whole life so it’s no surprise. She then commented on how I bring something to it with my depth and acting abilities. I told her this is the kind of dancing I really want to do, but haven’t had a class like this that will take me where I am instead of expecting me to be more. And I hope soon that I can even learn more complex things, if my body allows.

Speaking of my body.
I asked my chiropractor yesterday about my back. He agreed it looks worse, and told me how they’re trying to get different lifts in and when they figure out where they ordered them from last time (the person who did the ordering left) he’ll get me one. He also said my back will always be like this. I’m contemplating a second opinion, but the hard part with that is affording a second opinion. I asked two of my dance friends if they knew of anything I could do to better dance with this issue, but they didn’t know much either, and also suggested a second opinion. My friend from Instep has scoliosis, so I messaged her and she gave me some solid tips on how to improve my turns when it’s a struggle to stay square, so that’s nice.

We had our Nutcracker pictures on Sunday. I was there for 8 hours. It was exhausting and I ended up pretty sick. So that was cute. But it’s okay, and the pictures came out good so that’s nice.
Here are a few fun ones that are on my phone. A bajillion more on my camera.

(we laughed at this one for a good long while)
I’m taking next week off of work to essentially avoid everyone ever. Hah. But really I need to get things in order with my house so I’ll feel a little more at ease. I don’t have time to do it on weekends until after Nutcracker, so that would be January. Also, I have pictures I have to edit and more on the way, so I don’t want to get too held up with that. I decided, also, to take the week off of dance to really maximize my productivity time. I plan to come into town twice to drink coffee and do endless editing, plus Shrub’s birthday but the rest of the time I’ll be invisible. (This doesn’t apply to the chosen few who are amazing and hopefully get to help me with stuff. Aka, the Rowlands. I love the Rowlands. Also maybe Elizabeth. Cause she’s fab. But that depends on scheduling. And obviously Shrub’s birthday.)
I think this will be good to do a total reset. I know already there are certain things I really don’t want to go back to, but this is life and I have to face it. It’ll be okay. I’ll make it through. Even though it’s may not be right or fair. Nothing lasts forever.
(Now I’m singing Wildest Dreams. This is the opposite of a problem.)
(Also, happy first birthday, 1989.)

I have wonderful people in my life that I am extremely grateful for that have really carried me through this difficult time in my life. I wish I could explain what they truly mean to me.

Lovely Things

Just a post of some things that have happened this week that I want to remember.

  • Sitting on the floor trying to untangle my yarn to continue to crochet. One of the younger dancers strikes an interest. I show her the stitch and she picks it up immediately
  • Another younger dancer tells me she’s good at untying knots and asks if I would like her help. Turns out she was extremely good at untying knots and got me over the hurdle I was at for a while. The two worked on different sections to master most of the knot.
  • Ayla balling up the other end of the yarn to help avoid knots and get more of the giant knot undone.
  • One of the mom’s saying to me, “You’re a person who always does what they say they’re going to do.” I wish I could remember what we were talking about, but this made me feel like I was the type of person worth being. This is a good feeling
  • Joss being absolutely silly and reminding me of myself at her age.
  • Mrs. Julie saying I am more than welcome to do the VI’s ballet recital piece if I would like to. (The costume is epic. I am so excited.) (Also, I’ll be doing it on flat so I’m more comfortable. She is all for it.)
  • Seeing Ms. Nancy for the first time in 3 weeks
  • Hugging her. (she cried.)
  • Reese remember who Cheyanne and I are, that we played cars, and asking to play with us again.
  • Reese and Cheyanne walking on my back. (There is a polaroid. I’ll post if I can.)
  • Reese jumping up and down when she says our names. (Oh my gosh melt.)
  • Reese cuddling up as I read her a book, leaving before it was finished, but finishing it anyway as I had a good sized group of advanced dancers around me listening.
  • A butterfly named Arthur.
  • Ileana telling me with wide eyes, “You did so good on Monday!! I was so proud like, “aww, go Emilee!” This means a lot since Monday’s lyrical class is new to me, and also the type of class I deep down want to be able to do. 
  • Catherine’s genuine smile and laugh when something is funny or she’s really excited.
  • Mariela being the genuine joy and support that she is. To say I value having her in my life is a vast understatement. 
  • Jazz hands.
  • Walking into the office and having to walk through Mia’s class. I wait until they finish the phrase and try to be invisible, as per usual, when I hear, “*gasp* it’s Ms. Emilee!” and turn to see Ayla with a giant smile on her face. I snuck a wave and snuck into the office, my heart officially a puddle.
  • Everything about the entire Rowland family.
  • Seeing Judy channel all the SYTYCD dancers in Tap class, then take a correction from the teacher and completely nail it.
  • Mariela telling me, “When you lifted it, oh my gosh, it was beautiful.” (After being corrected. Oops I was doing tendus instead of degages.)
  • Elizabeth and Abby always being there with advice and encouragement be it about pointe shoes, sore muscles, or problems in my personal life. Especially when it includes videos of cats or corgis.
  • My baby dancers (okay, they’re not babies at all. But they’re my babies, you understand) hugging me and high fiving and just generally loving the fact that I’m there.
  • Having such understanding and supportive teachers to learn from and help me to grow. 
  • Having such caring friends in class, looking out for me and helping me when I need it.
  • Getting to use the smaller studio on my own after ballet
  • Knowing, at the end of the day, even though the struggles seem insurmountable, I’m in a great place that wants nothing more than to see me succeed.

"I can stay."

I think my shoes are dead, but I don’t have time to sew new ones. I might figure out time somehow. I guess I kind of have to, huh?
Yesterday was our V’s class, which I really like, but it was a bit of a struggle. My pirouettes are still lacking and our teacher was getting onto us for them. She said we should be able to do doubles at this level. I struggle to even do doubles on flat, let along en pointe. I know most of my issue is my knee and back problems, and I’m working to try and improve, but it takes more time than I wish it would. Still, I’m seeing slight improvement, so that’s something I guess. I really need to get into my new shoes so I’m not afraid of rolling my ankle. Yesterday it was more that I landed hard and felt the weak spot my ankles have had for as long as I can remember. I haven’t felt it in a few years, so it was a bit of a shock. (It’s okay though.)
My knee held out and I was able to do everything else. My main issue is the unevenness of my legs and the lacking strength in the left. Siiiiiiiiiiigh.
Class ended and I put on my shoes to leave when one of my “babies” wanted me to watch her do something in the Jazz class. I did, then Heidi asked if I was going to stay. I told her not yet and as soon as I said it I thought, “But you know, I’m probably okay enough to stay.” So I watched what they were working on as they marked it. There were only five girls and it needed a sixth, so I asked Heidi, “Do you need another person? I can stay.”
I’ve been wanting to stay for this class. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite, but I do love how it makes me feel. I’m not overwhelmed. I’m not in someone’s shadow. I’m not the obvious beginner. I’m just me, and that’s enough.
I am challenged, though, which I appreciate. Just enough of a challenge. Plus, it’s all new to me, but it’s a new I’ve been wanting to experience for a while. The dance we did yesterday was the kind that makes you feel something. It wasn’t overly complex, though there were elements I struggled with. What I like about how Heidi handles this class is that if you can’t do something, you do what you can. She doesn’t pressure you into pushing for more if you know you can’t. It’s more about getting out of your comfort zone.

I think I’m gonna try and start staying, now that my stomach is doing alright. I hope to get more figured out with my back and knee so I can do even more. One thing is for sure–I was really grateful to get to take that class and just let myself feel and show it through movement.

I have many other thoughts from yesterday, but I’m going to keep them for myself.

My friend Amelia took this while I was putting on my shoes yesterday. It may seem simple, but it really means a lot to me. So many times I’m the one taking pictures of other people and no one really does that for me. Not that they have to, not at all, but it kinda weighs on the heart when you look through these great pictures and these candids and you’re in none of them. But it’s not really something you can just ask someone else to do and hand over your camera. There’s something special that is caught in an unexpected moment. Amelia did that for me, and I treasure it.

First Flowers Rehearsal

I managed to luck out, I guess, and not have rehearsal until yesterday giving me an extra weekend to do things I needed to.
I was expecting Flowers to be really chaotic and stressful. I had heard that it was always a bit of madness and confusion. This made me nervous, especially since I’m pretty burned out as it is. I didn’t know how quickly I’d break or how much I’d be able to take.

During warm up, we started off with push-ups. I am absolutely terrible at them, to the point where I typically avoid them out of embarrassment. I didn’t even remember this was a thing for a while, until I started noticing the pattern. Then I remembered being teased as a kid. I remembered my shortcomings. I remembered how my hardest has never been enough.
I remembered.
But as we began yesterday, I didn’t think twice about doing them until I was 2 push-ups in. And I realized I was actually doing them. And I remembered how I’m not sick anymore, and how much more my body has been able to do already. So I tried to do them all, and as my face got closer to the floor, right before I pushed it back up with the rest of my body, I thought, “I’m so grateful I can do push-ups.” The girls next to me were giving up, pretending to do them on their knees. They’re fully capable if they apply themselves. Their bodies are well. And then I remembered that mine is too, now, for the most part. That I should do these things since I am able. How precious something as simple and complex as a push-up is. What a privilege it is that I can even do these.
And I did them.
Every last one of them.
And I feel it this morning and it makes me so happy.

As we proceeded to the barre, I noticed my brain being sort of spaced. Not in the typical cloudy way, but in a way that there was just nothing there. I also noticed that I held my balances in places I usually can’t and longer in other places. So that was nice.

There were a few changes in casting. A person dropped here, another injured there. After the dust settled, Ileana got moved up to Lilacs (!!!!!!!!) and Catherine, Isabel, and Maddie didn’t have to share anymore. (I don’t think Sheridan was sharing before? If she was, she isn’t either.) I can’t express how proud I am of these girls. They work so hard and it’s showing. Ileana has that “it” that comes together to form the ideal dancer. I love getting to be there to watch her as she grows class after class. She is so elegant without even trying–it’s just in her. So to see her get moved up, my heart about exploded.
Same for the girls that don’t have to share anymore. They really proved themselves. These are also the girls who pay attention in class and work hard every day. They’re the ones that go home and practice and give it their all when they’re here. They’re on the verge of greatness, and I’m so excited for them! My babies are growing up!

They started with Roses, since they come out first, then us Petite Fleurs. When they worked with us, Jolene helped with the specifics of it. She was a Petite Fleur last year and remembered it really well. It was really nice having her there to help. She was able to answer my questions on details and helped me feel more confident about what I was doing rather than just fumbling around. I think this was pivotal in helping me not panic. We picked it up fairly decently and were able to learn quite a bit. I really like it and am excited the more we learn. It’s not out of my depth, so I can do everything without fear. (Though I almost rolled my ankle twice yesterday? whatever.) I even get to be in the front for this back cambre thing we do. Not that we’ll be seen all that well, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

I’m excited, too, because this music is easy to count. Although, there was a point or two where Ms. M said I was the only one on the counts. Abarrane saw it, too, and tole me I was the only one who looked like they knew what they were doing. Not sure why this tends to happen, but I’m confident the girls will do just fine when they’ve had a little more practice.
Annika said some really nice things to me afterwards.

So that made me feel really good…
I may not be where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way.
I really need to sew my new pointe shoes, but I don’t know when I’m going to have time. I should have brought them today, but I didn’t think about it. Emerson said she could sew them since she can’t dance with the boot and she’s so bored. I told her I’d trade her head shots for it. So if I can get them to her, that would be great.
I’m excited for class tonight, even with my dead shoes and stupid longer leg. 
I got the email telling about company head shots and jackets (finally!) so that’s exciting. We have program pictures next week, but I’m not sure what times I’m to be there yet.
I really need to re-find my camera cards from Europe so I can clean them off and have them available for shoots… I can’t wait until I’m not perpetually moving in anymore. Slowly but surely, I guess.
My right leg is all sorts of sore this morning. Which is great, except that it’s the leg that’s already stronger anyway. I guess I really engaged my muscles during rehearsal yesterday, haha!
I think I’m going to drop Thursday’s class and stay the extra class on Tuesday’s. That way I have a day of the week to hopefully get stuff done since I don’t have Friday’s now. Plus I seem to be gone on Thursdays pretty often. Meh. 

Hey, remember that one time? (SYTYCD)

If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll remember my obsession with So You Think You Can Dance last year.
You’ll remember how I last minute got to go to the tour in San Antonio and accidentally happened to meet them.
I grew up in a small town that’s only now starting to grow a bit to where some artists will stop there. And even then, some find it still too small and will cancel shows because of it. Houston and Dallas were just to far of a drive for my parents to justify so we never had the opportunity to go to things like this.
Last year, I made it a point to do all the things I never got to do and had found myself making excuses about in the name of adult responsibility.
(Pro tip: Screw that.)
I filled my year with incredible experiences and adventure, beginning with winning the pointe shoe fitting contest that literally changed my dancing “career,” followed by last year’s SYTYCD tour, and rounding out in July with a trip to Europe (that I’m still paying off but oh my gosh worth it.) (Guys. Harry Potter Studio Tour.)
(anyway)
Things got pretty overwhelmingly busy in my life, and I wasn’t able to follow this season as closely as I wanted to. Jackie (my best friend) would DVR them for me, so I got to see two episodes one day when I was able to drive the 45 minutes to see her, but the rest of them time was too tight. (sad. day.)
I figured maybe it was a good thing–I wouldn’t get emotionally attached to this season and be sad when I wouldn’t be able to go to the tour because really how would that ever happen twice, right?
Still, I followed along on social media: following my favorites from last season that made it through this season, looking up the social media accounts of the dancers everyone was buzzing about, a dance clip here and there when I had a spare minute.

Fast forward to last week.

This is Judy. She is one of the sweet 12-year-olds I met last year’s Nutcracker when she was an 11-year-old. It was my first season with this new studio attached to this company and I wasn’t hip to the groove with the older kids (yes, hi, I talk like a grandpa sometimes) but I love the younger ones anyway so it was a great time. We took a few classes together this summer when they combined levels and I found it to be very encouraging. (Why would I be afraid when the 11-year-old next to me wasn’t, right?) I’ve really seen her grow a lot here recently, especially this summer, and she shows so much promise for the future. Her love for dance is really developing and she’s dedicating herself more than ever before.
Her Mom is a sweet lady who helps me unknot my yarn when it gets crazy while I’m crocheting (I’m 87 I swear) and is overall a kind lady. She’s invited me along to pointe shoe fittings (which sadly I wasn’t able to attend) and overall very inclusive, which I find to be so very kind and wonderful.
For Judy’s birthday, her Mom wanted to take her to a concert she had been dying to see. Unfortunately, Mom ended up in the hospital and had to have surgery. Judy was such a sport through it all (she is seriously such a great kid) which really touched her mom’s heart. Judy has gotten all A’s, and usually for a reward for an A, she gets $10 per A. (My parents did the same thing. Totally works.) This time her Mom wanted to give her something extra for all her hard work and understanding as well as helping her Mom through this tough time. The kicker? She still can’t move her neck enough to drive to San Antonio.
Last week, Mom approached me and asked if I had driven to San Antonio by myself before (she is so considerate) and if I’d be willing to take Judy to SYTYCD. She said she’d buy my ticket and help with gas, and told me her heart in the matter.
Words can’t describe how honored I was that she would trust me with her sweet girl. That she thought of me, and offered to pay my way as well. I checked my schedule, considered the dance class I would miss, and agreed. (I mean, so hard, right?) (My teacher is out of town and it’s the class I’m probably going to switch around anyway.)
She told Judy, got the tickets, and we counted down the days this last week on instagram in excited anticipation.

Little did Judy know that I had insight from last year that would *hopefully* get us to meet them this year.
(And Mom was okay if we came back at 2:30 in the morning.)
(hehehehe)

We head out after she gets out of school and I get off work yesterday. GPS was being weird and got us a bit turned around, but nothing substantial. We laughed it off with a “remember the time we went the wrong way as soon as we left for SYTYCD?”
We worked on her math, science, and art homework and by the time she finished we were nearly there. We talked excitedly of dance and how cool it was that we were getting to go. I love this kid.

When we arrived, I pointed out the side street near the parking garage.
“See those buses? Those are theirs.  And after the show, if we wait by them, usually they come out and say hi.”
She. Was. Elated.
We got into the parking garage, took the elevator down to the ground floor, and entered the Majestic.
As we waited to show our tickets, an usher said, “Ladies and Gentlemen! Photography is allowed as long as there is no flash.” To which I said, “Can you imagine the pictures I could have gotten with my big camera had I know?!” (Seriously, though. They would have been poster worthy, and not because I’m awesome. We. Were. That. Close.) Judy said, “You could get a picture of Gaby’s feet!” (They’re impressive, y’all.)
We gave our tickets to the lady and she scans them, as she does Judy’s, she says to her, “Are you a dancer?” Judy answered, “Yes.” and the lady said, “You hold yourself like one!”
HELLO HUGE COMPLIMENT
I’m absolutely beaming in pride. Someone we don’t know saw in Judy what I can see in her. That part that is starting to show and just needs a little bit more to fully come out. Her untapped potential. Judy was so flattered.
We get in line at the merch table and start really getting excited. As we checked out, the lady that helped Judy asked if we were sisters. I said, “Not technically, but basically.” Because really, close enough. The lady said, “You two favor each other!”
HELLO HUGE COMPLIMENT AGAIN.
We hadn’t even made it to our seats and we’re already so happy.

We show the usher lady our tickets (oh, ps, a lovely usher lady pointed us kindly in a shortcut part of the merch line. I think Judy’s red hair was luck for us) and she tells us it’s all the way down towards the front and to the right. (aka, center)
We were in Row C, seats 115 and 113.
Ya know, third row in the center.
What. Is. Life.
We’re so flipping excited it’s insane.

We looked at our programs, and I asked her to point out her favorites and had her school me on who everyone was. She explained how the Street Vs. Stage went this year and who was which team.

The show began.
(Keep in mind these are on my cell phone… If I had my pro camera, they’d be legit. But honestly, I’m kinda glad I didn’t. You can see the raw moments in these blurry photos. They may not be poster worthy, but they do my heart good. Therefore, they are fab.)

My mind is completely blown.

Last year, I went into it knowing what dances to expect and with hopes of which of my favorites I would see. I knew everyone’s name and could point them out easily. I knew which dance was which by the first 3 seconds in (if that) and the whole thing was a wild ride. This time, coming in not knowing really who can do what or which dances were done this season (except for one I saw in a clip) proved a very different experience. A wonderful one.
There were surprises around every turn, dance moves I didn’t even know existed, perfect technique and executions. My right hand was on my face with my mouth open just about the whole time when I wasn’t taking pictures on my phone.
(I was sort of glad to not have my pro camera. Sure, the pictures would have been wonderful, but it’s no different than seeing it on TV. You’re experience is through a screen. This way I could just enjoy it, only getting a shot here and there for posterity.)

We were so close that the dancer’s could see us when the lights were bright towards us. How do we know? They would make eye contact and wink and stuff. It was so cool.
You could really see how much they put into their art form–the expression, the emotion, the force and passion. You could hear them breathing and see their mouths sing along at appropriate times. You could see their muscles contract and the details of their technique. You could hear them breathing and see the sweat drip off their faces onto the floor or glistening down their backs. You could even hear their feet hit the stage as they landed at times.
I was so glad Judy was there to see how they connected with each other and emoted so well.
There was even one incredible dance they did where it started out with one dancer and a sole lantern on stage. Next thing you know, there are two dancers with lanterns at the foot of the stage. Then two more down the aisle from there, and two more from there. Gaby was literally a couple feet from us, and Hailee not far behind either. Judy was beside herself, these were two of her favorites. The concept of this piece had to be one of my favorites, although favorites are hard to pick. Ever moment is absolutely incredible, with no dead space anywhere between.

I still can’t get over some of the things these people were able to do. I am #teampotato all the way in comparison, haha! But seeing them made me want to be better.

What I really appreciate about SYTYCD in particular is the wide variety of dancers.
In ballet, it tends to be one specific body type that’s favored. You can still dance without that body type, but more often than not if you don’t fit the mold you fall away. Thankfully, this is a stereotype that’s falling away a bit, but it is still very much the norm. Here, I can see dancers of all different body types doing all these different dance styles. I see one girl with thighs like mine, albeit more toned. Her stomach looks like mine, too. Toned, but not necessarily what someone may always consider “flat.” This particularly has been a hard one for me to accept lately because I know before I could get my stomach flat and “beautiful,” but at the expense of my health. If I’m hydrated, it expands a little. I was always made to believe that meant I was lazy, that I was incapable. But clearly it doesn’t. Here was this dancer before me, absolutely beautiful and slaying every single move in every dance she did. You wouldn’t even notice that her stomach wasn’t just like everyone else’s unless it’s something you question in yourself and therefore notice in others. She was perfect.
I looked up at her, watched her danced, and saw that if I continue to work hard it is possible for me to be like that, too. I can work harder on my thighs, stick to the game plan I have. I know I don’t have to worry about my stomach if I’m doing everything I need to do. I know that strength is where I need to work now that my body isn’t rejecting things as much and finally starting to feel normal for the first time in years. And now I had proof that it’s possible to be these things I dream.
(Thanks, Alexia. You really changed a person just by being who you are. I appreciate that more than you could ever know. Keep doing what you’re doing and inspiring lives.)

I also couldn’t get over how well everyone showed emotion and commitment to their roles. Specifically Hailee. She owned each and every part she did with such intensity, I couldn’t comprehend it. She reminded me of my friend Brieanna, whom I met at Bible School and is now starting to break out in the music scene. She’s incredibly talented and has always been a fierce friend that I am grateful for. (Check out Brieanna Grace’s “Good Machine” on Bandcamp.) That same spark Brieanna has always had is in Hailee, too, and dooms them to do great things with their art. I love it so much.

When the show ended, Judy and I decided to beat the crowd and exit out the side door.
As we walked out, I realized we were in the exact place where we needed to be in hopes to meet them.
We lingered a few minutes and one of the workers there told us, “It’ll be about an hour before they can come out. If you want to wait, please do so past the prop boxes so we can get them loaded.” So we did just that.
(I also saw Ray, whom I saw last year and follow on instagram, and a girl who was with them last year whose name I couldn’t remember. It made me happy, almost like I was seeing old friends, even though they have no idea who I am. I have a mad respect for them.)

Judy was exhausted and said she was going to sleep the whole way home. We talked about school she waiting for her the next day and the test she had to look forward to in third period. Time seemed to pass by pretty quickly and we made friends with a few people next to us. I realized that this time there were way fewer people waiting than last year. They didn’t even set up the little cable things to keep us in line or anything.

The dancers would come out and take their stuff to the bus, then come back and see us. Nothing separating us; mingling like old friends.

First person we met was Jaja, who was one of my favorites when she auditioned last year but didn’t make it through.

 I was so glad she came back and auditioned, and especially that she did so well. Meeting her was something I never thought would really happen. I almost wished I would have met her after a few other people first because I was so awkward and had no idea what to say and so tongue tied and everything. But she was kind, and so wonderful. Judy was really excited to meet her since she also had red hair. The whole drive home she’d go back to her picture with Jaja and stare at it, beaming. To say she left inspired is an understatement. Meeting these dancers started to show Judy the commonalities she shared with them and the potential she has in herself. I am so grateful to them, more than I could say.

Next up, we got to meet Derek.

I was particularly taken by him during his solo that night. He had these balances unlike anything I have ever seen.

**There’s a picture but my thing is being stupid and not loading it? But his face is clear but the rest of him is blurry HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN.

Next we got to meet Megz.

Okay, first off, her jacket is perfect. And I told her this. She was team Street, and one of the only people who was actually older than me. I was really impressed with how well she did any style she was given, and how fluid she can make her body look down to her fingers. (That was my favorite.) She was also one of Judy’s favorite’s, so she was really excited to meet her.

JJ skipped passed us while we were with Megz to keep the momentum going, so next we got to meet Neptune.

 Man, he was so cool! So down to earth and extremely friendly. Not to mention, his dancing was so sick. Like, my mind was blown. He was so kind and really loved Judy. A lot of the dancers did, which was so great. It really meant so much to her, which makes my heart burst with good things.

Next we got to meet Edson.

He had quite the cheering section the row in front of us during the show, and honestly I can see why. His skill level was incredible. He had a really warm personality and was very kind. I think the cheering section girls were there and had just met him. I can see why they were fans!

Next we got to meet Moises.

He was one of the alternates that was able to come, which is pretty cool. I love that they do that. I made him draw himself as he signed my program, and when he did he said, “This is my leg, and this is my foot. Look at how pointed my toes are! This is my favorite move.” It was hilarious. He was really nice and had gotten to do a solo which was really great.

After that, I saw JJ and she wasn’t with any of the other people. It looked like she was looking around to see if there were any more people, so I shouted, “JJ! Wait! Don’t leave us!” She laughed and smiled and came right over to meet Judy and I.

She talked with us about dance and Judy complimented her and talked about dance. She asked, “So you are team stage then?” We said yes, and she had complimented Judy’s dress, which had stripes, and so did her sweater so she said, “We can be team stripes!” She was so incredibly kind. And her sweater was insanely soft. It was crazy to think this was the same fierce team street dancer we had seen tearing up the stage not long before, seeing that she was as sweet as sugar! I love how she is the full package, all wrapped into one! I really enjoyed meeting her.

Next we got to meet Marissa, who was also an alternate.

I kept forgetting that the alternates were alternates. I mean, I had them all draw themselves, but I kept forgetting that they weren’t just like everyone else. They’re so insanely talented, and Marissa was no exception. She really blew my mind, and when I first saw her before consulting my program to figure out who she was, I couldn’t believe she wasn’t top 10. I can tell you, I’d hate to be one of the judges.
She was really friendly, asking how we liked the show and talking with us. I had her draw herself as well and she said, “Oh, I haven’t seen these yet! Can I look at it?” I said of course! And she looked through it. We got a picture and she said she wanted a copy of it. I told her I could tweet it to her, so she wrote her twitter handle by her picture in my program. I love how personable she is. I really felt like we were friends, and not just a fan meeting a dancer. That is a great skill to have, and I’m grateful to have met her. (When I tweeted her the picture the next day, she replied right away. Which I found really kind and also impressive that she was awake so early. hehe. 🙂 )

Next we meet Yorelis, who was another alternate.

Again, can’t believe they are alternates. How these judges decide is beyond me because all of these dancers were mind blowing.
Yorelis really stood out to me, partially because she has such amazing hair and I kept thinking of all the amazing pictures that could come of photo shoots, but mostly because of her insane amount of skill. She also drew herself on the program and we talked about dance. I told her I didn’t know how she does this every day. I mean, they must be so exhausted, we’re wiped out just after Nutcracker I can’t imagine this much intensity. She said, “It’s really not that bad! But I’m really grateful I get to do what I love every day.” And I said, “yes. Never stop doing that. Like, ever.” This really stuck with me, given my current work situation and the potential opportunities I have to (finally) leave there and do more of I love, which is hinging on the fact that what I love doesn’t bring enough income in to really justify quitting the place the sucks up all my times and damages my spirit. But this makes me want to press on. To fight to do what I love and endure until it’s what I can do full on. That I’m not being foolish to prioritize what makes my soul come alive over what society tells me I need. And I’m really fortunate to have the opportunities I have been given to get income doing what I live, even if it’s minimal. Every bit helps.

Next up came Jim, which Judy and I were internally freaking out over.

Judy and I do ballet, so obviously we would be excited about the dancer from Houston Ballet. (duh.)
He was so kind. I told him about Ms. Munro and how she used to be affiliated with Houston Ballet back in the day. (Ballet Mistress. I had to ask yesterday, hahaha) Judy told him he should totally be our Sugar Plum Cavalier since we only have a handful of guys, and we told him about Michael Levine that comes and dances with us. (Corpus Christi Ballet, if anyone is wondering.) We talked ballet and Nutcracker and dance and it was really cool. He was so nice and made us feel like we were just visiting with a friend, not meeting this dancer that has become a legend in the ballet world lately. We got pictures with him and when it came time for him to continue on he said, “I hope to see you again soon!” (Of course I told Ms. Munro about it all and dropped hints that we should totally have him in.)

Next we met Gaby.

She is the Season 12 winner, and sweet as can be. I just started taking Tap this season when Mrs. Julie asked me to take her level III since a few of the older kids were taking tap for the first time and she didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable being the only older ones. “You’re good with patterns, you’ll pick it up just fine!” It’s been fun so far, I’m really grateful to get to learn. Seeing Gaby, especially in her solo, absolutely blew my mind. I literally cannot find words to express how intricate and precise her tapping is. On top of being insanely talented, she’s also good at keeping it interesting. Some people can find tap sort of flat, which I think is ridiculous, but she makes it something anyone can enjoy, even if they don’t realize how difficult what she is doing really is. She talked with Judy about dance and asked her what her favorite styles were. (Judy was pumped to meet her. One of her favorites all season.) She really encouraged her to keep with it keep doing her best.
This is what it’s about, ya know? These dancers inspiring the up-and-comings just by being who they are. A person’s positive influence is invaluable, and I am so grateful to these for being that for Judy. I believe she is really at a pivotal moment in her dancing where she’s about to make a huge breakthrough and show everyone what she is really capable of. The other girls in her class better watch out, because she’s coming for them! I’m also grateful for the inspiration these dancers are for me. More on that at the end.
In my picture with Gaby, Virgil photobombed, which is hilarious.

Next we got to meet Virgil and Alexia at the same time.

Virgil signed the program and Alexia drew herself wonderfully as she signed. (#meyeronfire) They were really fun and really nice. We talked with them and laughed and really enjoyed ourselves. (I wrote about Alexia above. She’s great. Supah fab. And from Utah, but we claim her here in Texas for sure. But Utah is close to Idaho and that’s where Emilee [my name twin] lives so we like it there to. I haven’t been to Utah yet, but it’s on my list.) Alexia seems like a really well rounded dancer. I’m hoping to get to go back and watch this season and see the full picture of how they got here from where they began with their SYTYCD story. Virgil was pretty great as well. Really funny. He was impressive to watch and thrived with anything given to him. He was another one of the really expressive ones that just seemed to stand out.

Lastly, (but we didn’t know it was lastly) we met Hailee.

She was Judy’s absolute favorite. When she walked up to us, I told her this, and she was so excited. She signed our programs and we got pictures with her and we talked with her like old friends. I told her how she was one of the most emotive dancers I have ever seen and how much I appreciate it. She thanked me and we got to talking about dance and all sorts of things. I asked about her knee, since she danced with a brace on. She said, “Funny story!” and showed us the epic floor burn on her knee. “It bleeds like a gun shot wound!” so they wrap it and then put the brace over it to help protect her knee from bleeding all over the place when she dances. She told us that the first night on the bus was a rough adjustment, but she had Netflix so it made it easier. I told her to look up documentaries to fall asleep to and she said she looked up one on dangerous animals in Australia, but it ended up keeping her awake because it was so interesting (and slightly disturbing!) She said she’ll be there in the morning with fun facts about the animals she learns about and that the scariest was this super venomous snake and how much she hates spiders. (same, though.) She really seemed to be such a genuine person (And reminded me of my friend Brieanna, which I wrote about earlier if you skipped all that) and was so warm and friendly. I love when I can leave things like with with a greater respect for the dancers after meeting them than when I arrived. This was definitely true for Hailee, and for all the dancers. Before she left us, she gave us another hug. This really resonated with Judy (and me, too.) Like. How cool is this? Here we are, dancers connecting with other dancers. This time it just happens to be that we are meeting these dancers that are known nationwide and have talent oozing from every part of them.

Everyone was so incredibly kind and friendly. Last year was great and all, but this year really blew me out of the water. They all took time with each of us and really connected with us. I really appreciate it, more than I think I could ever express.
For me, being someone who started dancing well after I could ever be considered for a career, seeing people like this from so many different styles of dance–it stays in my heart; in my soul. I see them, and think, “okay, if I can just work harder, I know I can attain this.” And it came at a good time, seeing that I had just heard back from my doctor and we think we’ve finally figured out what has been making me so sick all these years. Now I have these shining examples in front of me of what is possible if I work hard and I know I can push myself harder and really work for it without having to be afraid of what is going on internally. For the first time in almost 13 years, I can push myself and really work for what I want. Without fear.
Now to just get everything figured out with my back and knee. Hah. But it’s going better! So that’s good.

The world is small, and it’s full of people. We’re all connected in the fact that we’re all human, walking different walks in life, yet all sharing similarities if we take the time to look for them.
I’m blown away and so grateful for the serendipitous moments like these that connect people to people and give the opportunity for inspiration. They’re changing lives, doing what they’re doing. Art is such a deeply personal thing, whatever the medium, and dance is a universal language. Once you decide to be a dancer, you become part of a vast family. We’re connected in ways that are hard to explain unless you’re part of it. I’m grateful to have met these talented members of that family, and so excited for social media to be able to follow along with where they each go next.
I’m rooting for y’all!

Judy was so excited, we talked the whole way home.
She was so taken with how good the picture of she and Jaja came out. She was thrilled to know there was a dancer who had red hair like her. Representation is important. You as a person represent all the similarities you hold with seeming strangers. You can never be everything to everyone, but you never know what you mean to someone. Be you. Be you fiercely. Represent what you are. The world is better for it.

Personal.

I’ve been having a pretty rough time in some things in my personal life, which hasn’t had too much of an effect on dance, thankfully, but yesterday took the cake.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be in the studio I am.
I had a panic attack during the day, and then the entire drive to the studio. (Hi, being real with y’all.) It was so bad that I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit in the foyer with the kids without questions. I couldn’t act happy to get through like I usually do. I couldn’t fake this. I was too broken. Instead, I went and sat in the office. I walked in and Ms. Munro and Mrs. Alex were there. I told them I just wanted to hide out until class and they looked concerned. They asked what happened and I couldn’t speak because the tears wouldn’t go away from my throat and I had to just sit there for a second. I managed to get it out and cried a little and told Mrs. Alex if I just randomly broke down in her class this was why.

I considered not going to dance at all, but I knew I wanted to be there. This is the day I really needed to go. I wanted to pound my feet into the floor rhythmically, and tap was the perfect solution to that. I was able to be composed enough to play it off (well enough at least) in tap and having the moves to focus on was a great distraction. We worked on this one thing that’s a Moxie Ford with an extra beat. I didn’t it once, and then couldn’t seem to get it again. If I thought about it, I couldn’t do it. It was frustrating. I realized I was on the brink of another panic attack, I guess perpetually, so I had to calm myself down without anyone knowing. Thankfully, it’s tap class, so stomping into the ground is encouraged. Throughout the class I started sort of grasping the concept of the extra step, but I still can’t seem to connect it. I’ll get it eventually. I really want to get better at tap. I like it. I wish I had more time outside of class to work on stuff to improve.

Mrs. Alex’s class went well. Barre felt really good, even if it didn’t at the time. Does that make sense? She pushed us out of our comfort zone, which was great. She showed me how to make my arms more fluid, which I really appreciate because I’ve wondered what’s the correct way to do it versus which will make my arms look lazy and flat. I’m really gonna be working on implementing that.
My toes hurt in pointe, but part of it was that I had worked them so much the day before and they were still a bit raw. Another part was that I put that hole in my toe pad, so they were almost irrelevant. (Except for the space they take up in the shoe that I need.) I have new toe pads waiting for me in the mail, so I should be okay by next class. (If I have time to sew my shoes.)
I struggled across the floor. We did things in center that were new and semi-difficult, and I was able to attempt them, so that was nice. I didn’t do it full out since I’m not 100% sure how okay my knee is right now, but I grasped the concept and I tried. Across the floor I started to feel overwhelmed again. Mrs. Alex was kind and didn’t call me out on it or anything. I really appreciated Adrienne. Everyone else was either struggling just as much, or working on it themselves or whatever. There was one part that was simple, yet I couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t even mark it because I didn’t understand it so I watched to try and figure it out. I was considering not even trying it. Adrienne figured out how to do it, then took the time to come back and explain it to me. She gave me the boost I needed to feel confident enough to try it. She has no idea how much I appreciate that. (And because I’m a sensitive mess right now, I’m crying just remembering her kindness.) (so that’s cute.)
The last thing we did across the floor, I just couldn’t get. It was simple enough, but a bit too fast for me. It involved pique turns, which I had worked on the day before, but knew I wasn’t fast enough for what it required. I tried it to the right, but to the left I didn’t. I took off my shoes. I almost panicked after the time I did try, because I’m all on edge and all, so I went into the corner and just tried to breathe. A few of the girls asked if I was okay, and I just nodded. I couldn’t hid it. But I know I’ll be okay eventually.

Mrs. Rowland told me that I looked really beautiful in class today. Which shocked me with how rough I was feeling. But I appreciate her words. And her constant support. I love that whole family.

I can’t express how much I appreciate the kindness of my peers. They don’t have to be nice to me. They can leave me to figure things out for myself if they wanted. A lot of dancers would. A lot of dance teachers wouldn’t let you sit and cry in the office about things no one has control over. Mine are patient with me, and understanding. They don’t look down on me because I’m overwhelmed, they support me.

I wish I had taken a picture on my phone of the polaroid from last night. It’s golden.

I’m skipping dance tonight. One of the dance mom’s asked me to take her daughter to So You Think You Can Dance in San Antonio since she had surgery recently and can’t. I’m really excited. I didn’t think I’d get to go again, but it worked out. I’ll get home late and more than likely be dead tired, but it’ll be worth it. Plus to get to hang out with Judy will be really fun.

So if you’re the praying type, please be praying for me. I trust God completely and I know whatever is ahead for me is well worth what I’m going through now. I just need to be able to get through it.

Empty studio

Usually on Tuesdays, I’m only at the studio until about 7pm. This is considered early for me, as most of my classes start at 7 and go til 9. (I get there at 5 because it’s just easier than going home, which is far away. And traffic sucks.) Last night, however, I didn’t leave until after 9.

On Monday, Ms. Munro came up to me during barre and asked what time I could get here the next day. She had a board meeting and no one to man the desk after she left. I told her my class was at 6, but I get here at 5 and I can do it if she’d like. She said not to skip the class (haha) but if I could be there it’d be great. I got there, answered the phones, and manned the desk until Julie’s class started.
There were only 10 people in class, which if I remember correctly was about typical of the 6s last year. The kicker? There’s 30+ people on the roll list.

I was able to do yesterday’s class without my knee brace. I took it easy on the fondus, but I really wanted to at least attempt them so I can get used to it and find my boundaries. I’ve noticed if I work hard to hold my hips square, it doesn’t hurt my knee as much. I also noticed yesterday that it looks as though my shin bone is what’s longer on the right leg. Weird, huh?

Class felt good. It wasn’t too hard, but just enough of a challenge. I noticed myself getting better and stronger when it comes to doing fast frappe’s or degage’s or tondue’s. I still have a lot to work on, but the improvement is nice.

After the hour of barre I stay for, I went back into the office. Andie came in and we looked through recital costumes for her three classes she has. It was quite fun. Looking through all the different options and playing around with music tracks and laughing at the same costume that keeps popping up everywhere. The phone rang a couple times while I was there, but none of the inquiries were complex, so that was nice.

Mia’s class in the pink studio ended at 7:45. Julie had her Jazz class at 7:45 until 8:45.
This got me to thinking.
I could go home, or I could be the one to do all the closing up responsibilities and in the meantime, use the open studio to work on my weaker, shorter leg in my pointe shoes.
(guess which one I chose.)

There’s a portable phone, so I took it with me. No one was in the foyer, no one was there to potentially decide to see what I was doing in the studio. (granted there are curtains I could draw if I wanted. I just forget about them.) I put on some music and just let it play. Starting at the barre, working on doing proper plies and finding how difficult it is to releve en pointe when one leg is shorter and gets there sooner. I did plie releves on my shorter, weaker leg, while holding on to the barre. I did it with the longer, stronger leg as well to see the difference in the two. The shorter leg is impossible to do without the barre, the longer leg is possible but still a bit difficult. (Forget trying to releve without a plie.)
In class on Monday, I realized how much I’ve been struggling to do proper pique turns. They aren’t hard, but I can’t seem to go in a straight line, and I want to make sure I’m plieing enough as well as spotting and holding my arms correctly and having proper alignment and straight knees. I wanted to get more fluid in these, so I can do them quicker as was required in Monday’s V’s class that I struggled with.

My left side is impossible to go straight when turning. I worked and worked and worked on it, trying to make sure everything was being executed exactly as it is supposed to be. It was rough.
I worked on my right side, and noticed I didn’t get on my box all the way. I do for the most part on my left side, but the right is lacking. So I worked on this side for a while, trying to figure out why that was happening and what I could do to improve. I did pique passe’s across the floor to get the proper feel of it as well as placement and staying in a line. I kept switching off between sides, working on this and that. After about 20 minutes, I went back to the barre for more plies and releves. I did them really slowly to get a good feel for the motion and make sure I was rolling through correctly, as well as getting a good, deep plie.
I stretched a bit after and laid there, seeing a cool angle of my pointe shoes, hahaha.

Don’t let the smirk fool you, I’m dead inside.
(But the good kind, ya know.)
(PS. Shirt is from an etsy shop run by dancers. TurningPointeApparel. So great)
I took off my shoes in the office, but not before I got my polaroid of the day from that fun angle of my shoes. Not sure if it came out well or not, I haven’t seen it. hah.
My pinkie toe on my left food is doing this fun thing where it rubs the skin off, kinda, so that’s cute.
Then I noticed that I managed to do this.
That would be a hole in my toe pads.
(thankfully new ones are in the mail)
I watched bits of the Jazz class. Seeing them dance the way they did make me feel all sorts of things. Mainly, that I never want to stop dancing. I want to feel how they must feel while dancing. I want to improve to get to that level.

🙂
He’s a blurry one of my shoes. Ribbons out and all. 

Here’s my feet with Mrs. Alex’s when we were manning the desk. Hehe.
Lalalalalala this is my post and this is the end of it.