Class and a kitten. 

The studio is closed this week since we have recital rehearsals two of the days and recital the two days after that. Matthew, one of the dancers in my class, offered to teach classes. Originally, it was only on the Wednesdays of the weeks before summer, but we were able to get Ms. Munro to agree to having class yesterday as well. It was a combined class with the adults, who usually have class Monday and Wednesday, but an hour earlier than their normal time.

There was a fairly decent turn out. Enough to where we had to pull out a center barre, even. As far I know, Matthew has never taught a class before, but you wouldn’t know that by how well he did. He’s essentially a walking ballet encyclopedia, which definitely helps. More than that he was also very considerate to the levels he was teaching to, offering different versions of the steps based on level, and giving a full explanation of the combination, paying careful attention to the students to make sure they were confident in what to do before setting us to it.

(As Abarrane pointed out, he could be a professor. Maybe we should start referring to him as Professor Brehm. Maybe not, but maybe.)

There was a new face among us last night, and by the tone in her legs I assumed she was a friend of Matthew’s from the athletic club. I had no clue she had never taken a ballet class before until she told me at the end of class. She held her own really well. There was a moment at the barre when Matthew had us balance in back attitude, and I looked over (she was by the mirrors) and he corrected her knee to straighten. As soon as she did that, she rivaled half the class. She seemed determined to attempt anything, which I found really impressive. When it got to turns from the corner, I could see in her face the same thing I felt when first faced with a pique turn. I told her to not worry about turning it, and showed her again. I ended up going with her across the floor, and from what I could see in my peripheral, she did really well. After the left side, Matthew corrected her to get the passe all the way to the knee. I told her after that I was really impressed since most dancers struggle at the concept of closing the working leg into a true fifth. She kept it underneath herself without being told. She could do well with ballet if she ever wanted to. I’m sure already being so fit helps a great deal as well. We got to talking a little about where we started and who’s who in the class. She was super impressed with the two principal dancers there, as well as the few summarized back stories I was able to fit in. (And she thought Abarrane’s sister Kara was the cutest thing in the world.) We finished off the class and Matthew came over to see her. She instructs a class he takes at the athletic club, and she was telling him how she felt being in the class. It was really neat to hear the opinion of a “non-dancer” after a ballet class. (I put that in quotes because, seriously, she held her own.) Being immersed in something you’re typically just on the outside of looking in is a completely different and special experience. I was really struck when she used the word “beautiful” to describe the class.

It’s not just about the shows. It’s not just about what the public sees. What we do every day is beautiful. It’s an extension of this art form, ourselves being the medium, worked on, perfected, and honed nearly every day. And all these endless hours translate on to the stage when the time comes. And though there are many ugly days, Being on a stage isn’t what makes dance beautiful.

It’s the dancer.

I got home from dance with these vast plans to cook dinner and jet glue my pointe shoes. After dinner was done, I walked to my parent’s house to get my dog. (Mom likes to have her during the day. It’s one of those kinds of adorable that almost makes you sick, haha.) As I was walking up to the house, I heard a meowing. Most of our cats don’t meow unless they’re hungry, during which its a chorus of different tones of cat sounds. (hi, we have 15 acres and many outside cats to help with rats and–come to find out last night–snakes. I swear we aren’t crazy cat people…yet.) My sister had heard a cat under her hood, but hadn’t been able to get it out. The thing had somehow gotten itself up near her engine and wouldn’t find its way out. She drove to work and back with it yesterday, heart breaking as she heard it meow the whole way home. I noticed it only meowed when someone was near, so I turned on the flashlight on my phone and looked to see if I could see it. (We left the hood open for two days, hoping it’d come out, but all it managed was to pop its head out every now and then.) I went inside and recruited help, getting the gloves from my sisters front seat. I could touch the little sucker, but it would get scared and run to a different part of the engine. I even ended up under the car a few times, which is where my bun decided it had had it. Mom noticed it would follow the sounds if you meowed back at it, so we tried to coax it out the top where it would pop it’s little head out. That didn’t work, so dad poked at it to try and scare it in the right direction. It ended up right near the tire so I got back under the car and meowed at it. Dad lost sight of it, but only because I was staring the kitten in the face. I kept meowing, and it literally followed my voice out of the car. Once it got onto the gravel, it freaked out and ran to the tire, where I grabbed it and held it close to me. Dad was impressed, my sister super grateful. Mom had been praying the whole time we’d be able to get it out, and we did. We were a bit afraid to just let it go outside, that it might try and climb back in, so we took it inside and put it in the cat carrier with some food and water. Hoping my friend will be able to give it a good home.

And during all that, I didn’t get one rip in my tights.

Needless to say, I didn’t get my shoes glued, so I’ll have to fit that in sometime tonight along with turning one pair black, and figuring out how to alter my costume for V’s recital dance. Also have to find tights close to my skin tone to cut up for V’s jazz. Still not sure how I’ll make these quick changes, but I guess we’ll get it figured out. Where there’s a will, right? 


Last (official) class.

We had our (well, at least my) last official ballet class last night.

(Technically there’s a VI’s ballet tonight, but I have a chiropractor appointment, so I can’t go.)

Nearly everyone was there, including a newly booted dancer. (she hurt something in her foot during Swan Lake, pushed through the shows, and now is in a boot. I think she’s still able to do recital, but am glad she’s getting it taken care of.) We did a quick barre and got to working on cleaning up recital, since it was our last day to do so. We changed one bit to make better use of our time, and specified other things. It’s the only dance I’m actually confident about. The other two I’m still a bit nervous for. (although we do have a rehearsal for one of them tomorrow.)

When the recital dance felt good and polished, Mrs Alex rolled out the TV they have in the back room and put on Coppelia from 2002 as we all worked on making headpieces for our costumes. I had never seen Mrs. Alex dance before, and also never seen Coppelia, so it was hard to focus on trying to get the headpiece done when the video was so exciting.
She was the only person I knew in it, as I wasn’t near dancing then, hardly being in middle school at the time it was recorded. I wish I had been in dance then and knew all these people, but there’s nothing that can be done about that.

I had a pretty decent base for the headpiece, but then couldn’t seem to get it to do what I saw in my head past that. At one point, it looked eerily similar to something the Pope would wear. I had a decent fourth attempt, but it just wouldn’t stay how I wanted it and I got frustrated. Before I knew it, we were out of time. I took it apart down to the base I had and was going to take it home to work on it when Ms. Munro busted out this effortlessly wonderful headpiece she just came up with out of nowhere. She gave it to me and I modified it to the specification Mrs. Alex had and, voila! Headpiece done. Ms. Munro didn’t even realize how much stress and anxiety she saved me. I’m beyond grateful.

As I was getting ready to leave, we talked about recital and when I would be there and how I can help. I realized I only have two dances to change from one ballet piece, to a completely different jazz piece, and then only two dances to go from that completely different jazz piece back to a ballet piece, but one with black tights and shoes. I don’t know how I’ll do it all in time, but I’ll figure it out. Mainly because I’ll have to. I’m going to try and jet glue my shoes to get a bit more life out of them, since ballet runs apparently snap them right where I need the strength. Hopefully the jet glue works so I can use it moving forward. Ms. Munro commented on how well Swan Lake went and how we all really looked great. I didn’t know what to say, and thank you didn’t seem sufficient. She said she was glad that some of us covers were able to get to dance it, even though it was sad for the ones whose spots we took. I told her I had talked with Lauren–the one I covered–and told her that I was really sad for her, but really glad to be able to go in for her. She said she was glad I was able to, as well. That if she couldn’t do it, at least I could. Really a best case scenario for something like this, as with some people it could cause tension. But Lauren is a super mature person and we all know it wasn’t anything we saw coming at all. And this is the point of covers. At least we were committed and the show was able to go on without great stress. We did our jobs, we did what we were cast to do.
It meant a lot to me to hear it from Ms. Munro. And we joked about how it seems I’m destined to be the cover for bird roles, but end up going in last minute. We joked about asking Julie if there is a bird role in Snow White so we can keep the tradition alive, haha!

This year has taught me a lot, and I’m grateful to be on this side of it. I’ve grown as a person, learning more about myself and people skills and overall life skills, as well as a dancer–specifically being pushed in Swan Lake in both areas, in ways I am grateful. I’m better for having been through this year.

Now we look forward to recital, and on to summer classes, which will lead us into a new school year. I haven’t decided what classes I’m going to take yet, but I’m not at the point of having to decide so I’ll wait to freak out about it until I reach that point.

I’m just going to enjoy the ride.


And now, enjoy some pictures from yesterday’s headpiece making party 😂


Class attendance was minimal yesterday.

Seven of us, I believe.

I didn’t really mind, though. There’s something about smaller classes that I really enjoy. Although, I feel more pressure at barre in smaller classes. I’m really good with patterns and can usually get the combination quickly. Sometimes I can really tell if people are relying on me to know if, and it can be a lot of pressure.
Not always. There are times when the class actually has people in it who know the combination (as much as we can, at least) and don’t just use other people as a crutch.

(thankfully, last night was one of those nights.)

It wasn’t full of things I was good at, but it all was things I could at least attempt. And not in the sense of what I would have felt confident attempting three months ago, but rather things that would have terrified me even three weeks ago. But I attempted them, and actually didn’t suck as much as I expected.
There were times I could have done better. Once I hit the groove in the floor exactly split so I was super thrown off. It was kind of funny. Another time I spaced out and forgot to compensate for my uneven hips in chaines. Another time I just psyched myself out of trying a double. But there were a few underlying themes.

1.) I tried.
Which is more than I can say is typical. I didn’t psych myself out before I could even attempt what was asked. I didn’t set myself up for failure. I tried, I attempted, I gave it a shot.

2.) I learned.
Which is–surprise!–what happens when you try.

I realized when I always struggle when we promenade. My shoe shifts and I can’t seem to hold my balance on the uneven shank and drop my leg way early. The simple matter of thinking of staying on the ball of the foot (like I’ve been told countless times) helped me to stay better and my shoe not to shift as much. (I think I was afraid to break my shank earlier. But I mean, Swan runs did that already.)
I also realized that I struggle in turns (to get multiples and stuff) largely due to ankle strength (or lack thereof.) A seemingly simple solution, yet why haven’t I done anything about it?

I’m resolving to work towards improving on these things, especially this summer. I have a personal trainer app I used the last place I lived that had enough floor space, and found it very beneficial. I want to start using it again (now that I have floor space again and soft rugs on them) as well as incorporating specific things like the theraband and bosu exercises.

I hesitate to even type that here, for fear of failure. But I’ll only fail if I don’t try, and putting it out here in the open cuts those odds immensely. (That and telling Annika, who will kick my butt if I don’t hold to it.)

Before it wasn’t as realistic to be able to stick to, considering I was rarely home. But now that classes are slowing down, rehearsals don’t exist, and we’re coming in to summer, it’s a more feasible expectation of myself without worrying about burning myself out.
It is all a rather overwhelming thought process. I want to be healthier and do more to achieve this, but I find myself faced with many obstacles, mainly in the food department. I get sick when I eat and we don’t really know why. Which makes me not want to eat. Except that, ya know, not eating will kill you, and I’ve gotten a bit to close to that line before.
But excuses only get you so far, even if it is logical reasoning as to why to hold back.

You’ll only get as far as your last excuse.

And I want to go farther.

(Now, back to class)

It was a really fun moment when Ms. Catherine used the song “Tiny Dancer” in a combination across the floor. I love this song, but never felt “allowed” to let it be personal to me, being that I’m not the “tiny” part in the title and chorus. There are parts of me that feel like a fraud, since I’m not what a “real” ballet dancer looks like. I get nervous going into dance stores, afraid of being judged to be a fraud when I tell people I do ballet. That if I were serious, or really any good, then I would look the part. It’s inevitable, right? That to work that hard, your body has to give way?
Except that mine doesn’t. It has changed and adapted and formed, but nothing near like what is expected. I could tell people I’m a modern or contemporary dancer and I’d be believed, but a ballet dancer is a bit of a stretch.
(and honestly, I hate being this honest, this vulnerable, because I can hear people and their opinions in my head and it makes me want to spit. But this is my life, this is my story, and this is how it is. Y’all can suck it.)

Even with my slip ups in yesterday’s class, I felt free.
I felt safe.

We went on to Jazz V’s after, where we had our last Recital Rehearsal until dress rehearsal on stage next week. People were missing, which is frustrating as this piece is interactive with each other. I struggled with the timing of one of the new parts I was given (and have only been able to run a few times) and didn’t get to do it correctly, which makes me a bit nervous. I really want to invest in this piece and give it my all, but it’s difficult considering everything.
But I still like it. I’m still very glad to be a part. And it’s not really anything we could have avoided. People not showing up and not committing and everything changing every other second has taken it’s toll on everyone. But I’m really proud of all of us that are still here. Those of us that show up and work hard to do our best. Regardless, we can hang out hats on that.

It hit me at the end of class that this was our last Jazz V’s class. That we’ll never have this again. We may take this class next year, but it won’t be with the same people, it won’t be the same experience. This one is done–it’s in the history books now.
Change is hard. And weird. And leaves room for new, but dang sometimes the old was just really great. And sometimes the in between new and old is really hard to handle.

But we must keep moving forward. Or else we get swallowed up in the quick sand of life and can never get out.

We have our last Ballet IV’s class with Mrs. Julie today. Hopefully finishing the recital piece. Sigh. This year has been a mess when it comes to attendance.

I hope to take classes in the summer, though I’m unsure of which classes and how often. And I’m unsure of what I’ll do this summer. I need to order another pair of shoes, but I need to wait until I get paid again first. And I need to see about jet gluing my last pair to hopefully get more life out of them.
If anyone wants to contribute to the Emilee-needs-shoes-but-also-has-to-pay-rent fund, just lemme know.

I need to remember to get more pictures. I fail.

Love Yourself. 

I have to custom order my shoes through Capezio, requiring the hardest shank they offer to get any life out of my shoes. (They’re incredible, by the way.) I was hoping the pair I had would last me through Swan Lake, but ordered the next pair just in case. They came in the week before shows, an it’s a good thing they did. My shanks died in the middle of one of our very last rehearsals and I couldn’t make it through on them. Thankfully I had ribbons and elastic (thanks friend) and was able to sew my new shoes and break them in before our very last rehearsal and the shows. 

I think I saw this somewhere, but I can’t remember where to know who to give credit for the idea, but this is my new method for telling my shoes apart. 

Instead of just putting “L” for left and “R” for right, or just one or the other, (which some people don’t even do) I decided to put a two word sentence. 

I couldn’t tell you why I put “Love yourself” because I don’t even know why myself. I guess the fact that it starts with an L, which is on the left foot, was an appealing coincidence. Regardless, this is now how I tell which is left and which is right. 

I plan to change the statement each pair, which will not only tell me which shoe goes to which foot, but also how old the shoes are so I don’t mix them up. I’m notorious for keeping two, three, even four pairs in my dance bag (for no reason, really) and no matter how hard I try to keep them straight, there will come a moment when they’ll get mixed up and I can’t tell which shoe is new, which is old, and which left goes to which right. 

It’ll also help me remember the story that goes with each pair. 

Most importantly, it give me a mini pep talk each time I put them on. This time, it reminds me to not be so hard on myself in class, but to love myself. To love where I am and not get so worked up on where I wish I was. 

I need to put in an order for a new pair so they are to me before I need them. Thankfully, these shanks give my shoes a longer lifespan than before, which really helps. 

We have our last week of classes before recital, and have yet to finish one of the dances. Summer will be here before we know it. I’m still trying to kick this cold or whatever has been overtaking my health, and hopefully will be better tomorrow. I’ve done nothing the past few days, yet am absolutely exhausted. 

It’s so stupid. 

I think I need to be back in normal surroundings, though, which makes the fact that normal classes are ending soon really unfortunate. I think I have a bit of soul searching to do, as well, which hopefully will happen soon. So much to get done, always. 

I hope y’all are well, have a great week, and remember to love yourself. 

(Seriously, it’s important.)