Progress. 

It would seem that, as of late, things seem to largely be battles of the mind more than anything. 

And it’s kind of funny how when I can’t seem to figure out why things are the way they are in my own life, it comes out and seems to give me the answer when I dance. 

Monday was a good class, but I found myself spacing out and struggling to remember things. I also struggled with things making sense when asked different variations of barre combinations. I had to tell myself not to overthink it or try and make sense of it, to just do my best today and figure it out later. If I’m absolutely terrible and have it all wrong, she’ll correct me. It helped keep me from panicking, though there were definite moments it creeped up from inside and sat in my throat, reading my mind with its opinions. 

I made it through, not doing all that bad. There were things I know I can do better, but I can’t beat myself up over things I can’t control. 

I was telling a dear friend of mine (shout out, Sarah) how sometimes I forget all the different things I face every day and have to find ways to endure just to go on living. The things I could make excuses for, the things I could let define me, the things that are good enough reasons to sit out. But if I do that, I’ll never get anywhere. I wouldn’t have a life at all. I’d be a burden to my family and worst of all, none of it would make sense. Upon looking at me you generally can’t tell that there’s anything out of the ordinary going on. You typically can’t tell by looking at me that I fight these battles every day and that having a “good day” is rare. 

So I was reminded that even in my pursuit to do and try my best, I have to give myself a little more credit for even doing at all. I can’t tear myself apart when I have a day that’s less than stellar. 

I still got corrections and compliments in class. I learned and tried and processed, little by little. And ironically was able to see specific improvement in my alignment, even though size was trying to tear my mind apart. I can only control what I can control. I have to play the cards I’m dealt and do my best with my hand. Little by little, I’ll get there if I don’t give up. 

Even so, I did my second video for the perfect your pirouette challenge. It’s on my Instagram (link is in the last post) and thankfully didn’t get near as many views as last time. (So I’m not as nervous to post things 😂) there’s improvement, and also definite things that were causing me trouble. I couldn’t seem to remember the things I know I needed to think about, but I was able to get a pretty solid head spit, which I tend to struggle with. 

I really need to practice preparations at home to get into the habit of not being afraid to fully straighten my knee. That’s what will give me the balance I’m missing. (I’m afraid because it can cause pain. Same with why I’m afraid of plies and cheat them, which does nothing but cheat myself.) 

I’m starting to figure out the bad habits I’ve made over my time dancing, why I’ve made them, and how to do better about it all. 

I may not be where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way. 

Progress is progress, no matter how small. 

Pointe shoes 

During Monday’s adult class, I figured it was as good a time as any to bust out the new pointe shoes, even though I haven’t had time to tighten the elastics a little or to try out different padding options on my own. I went with what I was used to–the gel tip on my big toe with the normal toe pad stuffed where my short toes are so my shoe doesn’t twist–and hoped for the best.

It had been a while since I last did barre en pointe, but if anywhere is safe it’s going to be the adult class. I felt a little intimidated, like maybe it was expected that I be fabulous since I’m doing pointe in the adult class instead of taking a leveled class, but the pace and focus is better here for what I need. I tried to just suck it up and do my best. Fear is everywhere if you let yourself see it.

There were a few things I was just out of practice in trying to do. Some moments were quite literally laughable, but others showed great promise and improvement. The shoes themselves are wonderful and give me great support where I need it. They hold my foot well and give me confidence to attempt things where other shoes made me hesitate.

As the class went on, my toe started to go numb which I half expected using the gel caps. By the time we got to center, it felt like my toe was replaced with a rock and I had to dance on it. I tried to press through, but there came a point where it wasn’t worth it and I just did things on demi instead. It was towards the very end of the class, so I had made it farther than I usually do, so I tried not to beat myself up over it. I did manage a pirouette before the rock-toe came into full swing, so that was nice.

Typically if there’s something I can’t do, I just sit it out. Like jumps that are hard on my knees. But this time I would mark what I couldn’t do then join in on what I could. In a weird way, it made me feel better about myself; less like a failure. As much as it can be a relief to not have to do some of the more strenuous things, I wish I was able to. It can be quite disheartening to have to sit out of things I should be able to do but can’t because my body gives me all these challenges.

I still need to work on finding out the compromises to be able to have better balance when in my pointe shoes due to my uneven legs. I need to better strengthen certain muscles and know where to place different parts of myself to get where I need to be since being square doesn’t come naturally. Thankfully, I’m starting to get somewhere with all of that.

In yesterday’s class, I was going to try my shoes again, but not using the gel tips. It proved too much without my lambswool, so I just did without them for the class.
I found myself struggling that day with different physical and mental illness symptoms that take an extra bit of me to power through, but thankfully it wasn’t too full blown to cause me to have to take more drastic measures or leave the class. It did compromise my focus a bit, but I was able to power through without too many hose-ups. I did get some good corrections in class about my turnout and really using my plie. These are two things I think I am doing better with than I actually am, so having someone point out that I still need to try a bit harder really helps me to know what I’m actually doing versus what I think I’m doing.

I love going from the V’s class straight into adult because I can implement corrections received in the first class when attacking my second class.

I had some pretty solid balances and moments where I really kept the flow of the movements, which is something I’ve struggled with. I even managed my first true solid double, which was exciting. I still have loads of work to do, but to know I managed it was a great feeling.

I’m taking part in the #perfectyourpirouette challenge on instagram, aiming to work on having better pirouettes by the end of September. I filmed a bit after class, which proved rather rough being that I had been in the studio for 3 hours between teaching my bitty class and taking two classes. My blood sugar was rather low, my organs were beginning to scream at me, and my brain was spacing (but I cut most of what was obvious in that out of the video.) but I want to do this anyway. I figured it’d be a good “beginning” video for it anyway, haha. I’m hopeful that doing some targeted work on my pirouettes will help them improve. Seeing them in video form has already taught me a lot about my tendencies and what to really focus on. I gotta keep my mind open to correction and really strive to implement.

I’m going out of town for almost 2 weeks on the 4th of September for a wedding in New York, and also seeing my brother-in-law’s family up there. I’m trying to squeeze in an adult class while there (New Hampshire), but it’ll depend on the scheduling to see if it’s feasible. I’m hopeful, though. And if not, it’s okay. It would just be nice to not have to go a whole week without dancing.

I tried to add the edited video on here, but my phone is being weird, so here is a link to my Instagram instead. 

Hope y’all are doing well! And if you would like, feel free to join in on the challenge! 

First week: Done. 

In our studios, we have a one way mirror in the window and in the door, so the parents can see in but the students won’t get distracted seeing them. If you know what to look for, you can see the shapes on the other side, sometimes even able to tell who it is, but the kids don’t typically notice. It’s a pretty slick set up. 

As a teacher, it can be something nerve inducing, knowing the parents are watching but only get half of what is going on since they can’t hear what’s being said. I find myself nervous that parents are judging me against teachers they’ve had in the past, or other studios they’ve been to. That maybe they’re judging me that they’re kid got stuck with the teacher who probably isn’t good enough to do, just to teach, especially since she doesn’t look like a dancer. (These are the terrible things in my mind, even if they aren’t accurate.) I do my best to keep the class calm and flowing and teach the kids and not just have them have fun, though I want them to enjoy themselves as well. Especially being my first year teaching, I’ve felt pressure–probably put it on myself–to be worthy of this role they have given me. 

Friday and Saturdays classes were quite small, especially in comparison to last years classes. I don’t know if it’s just the way things fell this year or if these times didn’t work for this crop of kids this year or what factored into it, keeping in mind that more will likely join as the year goes on. Friday I had 6, I think, and my first Saturday had 4. My second Saturday was so small it was cancelled until more sign into it. (It had one. So they put her in Friday’s class until Saturday beefs up more.) this is great but also complex because you get through what you have planned a lot quicker than when you have a bigger class. You have to get really creative in your use for time. 

In each class I have at least one who stands out. Those kids that are naturals, have incredible turn out, perfect jetes, the ones that make you jealous even though they’re four years old, haha. It’s exciting to see the gleam in the eyes of these kids, knowing their hearts are full of dreams an you get to help them learn and grow and hopefully continue to love it. 

I saw one of my babies from last year before class yesterday. She’s in the class before mine since she’s older now, and she ran up and hugged me. It made me feel so good. She’s the sweetest little thing, and really quite talented with it. I love that I get to see her before class. 

After my class I had finished, I went back into the office to get my stuff. Ms Munro asked me how it went and I told her they were a good group. We talked about how the parents look through the window, and how it can make you nervous and all, and she said a mom was looking in and Ms Munro walked up to peek in and the mom said to her “She’s so good with them!” It mad me feel so good that what is perceived when seeing my class is that I’m good with the kids, not that anything is lacking. I’m sure not everyone will always like me, but it’s nice to know that I’m doing something right, and I really appreciated Ms Munro telling me what the parents said. 

Now I just have to research a bit more to get creative to keep the classes fun and interesting all while learning, especially in the smaller classes. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn a lot in this year. 

I’m excited and really hopeful for this year. 

Baby Ballet

I was an odd mix of nervous and calm going in to teaching my first baby class yesterday. It was one of the older age groups that I have, being the 5-6 year olds. I wasn’t sure how many I’d have or really fully what to expect, but it ended up being better than I could have hoped. There were 7 in class, 8 on roll so far. It’s almost inevitable that more will join in as the weeks go on, but this will give us a good start. I had two that were brand spanking new to ballet, which I find super exciting. One of them you never would have known had she not told me, she’s got a natural ability.

One of the younger dancer that will be turning twelve in a couple weeks told me she was going to be helping a Monday class. Since she’s there anyway, Mrs. Alex asked if she was interested. I told her I was jealous and that I want her for my class. When I got to the studio yesterday, her mom told me that she is going to be helping me on Wednesdays! I definitely did a fist bump. She’s the type that very mature for her age and a very good example, not to mention great with the kids. She’s not the type to get in the way or that I feel I have to watch as well, which I’m so grateful for. She’s a real asset to me and I’m thrilled to have her helping me!

I started the class off going over the rules and expectations. That there won’t be any talking unless it’s something I ask you to answer, ballet related, or if it’s an emergency. They stuck to it pretty well, getting a bit excited here and there, but nothing near the caliber I’ve had before. Overall, they did very well, and I busted out an old favorite from my previous studio–Slippery Fish–which was received with great excitement.

From there, I went into my V’s class. It was so great to see all the girls again, and to have a normal fall class, hopefully getting into the swing of things again. The girls were a bit chatty, but overall it was pretty good. The teacher we have for the class is really good about explaining things. Maybe she just says it in a new way, or a way I understand better, I’m not sure. But whatever it is, it sticks. I still have so much to work and improve upon, as I always will, but I’m grateful to have teachers that are there to help me continuously improve.

As of right now, I leave after Ballet (before the V’s pointe) and go into the adult class. I wasn’t originally going to take the V’s ballet, but Mrs. Alex pointed out that it’s the exact window between the babies I teach and Adult, so I might as well. Now I’m torn on if I want to keep doing this or if I want to stay for the Pointe class. After V’s, I was seriously considering staying, but then I went to adult and after it I couldn’t think of not taking the class. The struggle lies in the fact that I’m not doing pointe currently. I could do adult in my pointe shoes, but it’s so nice doing it on flat and just working on the basics. But I could still do it en pointe if I wanted, now I just have to decide.

I did like that I could implement corrections given in the V’s class’ barre when I was doing barre at adult. It being so fresh on my mind helped it to stick and helped me to get the feel of what I needed to fix. Ms. Munro taught adult, and she gave me a few “good!”‘s, and even saw a balance that I somehow managed to hold, commending me by name. She also gave me quite a few corrections, some of them even hands on, which I really appreciate. I have to figure out how to use my body and the base of everything I’m doing, so having these corrections and this time to really work hard on that is wonderful.

I teach another class tomorrow and two more on Saturday. I’m nervous and excited, but mostly hopeful that they’ll go well.

Fall Classes Have Begun. 

It doesn’t feel like it can possibly be mid-August already. That some schools are already back in session and others start back next week. Where did time go? What have I done with my life?! 

I was a little nervous for yesterday’s class. Not so much as I normally would be since I knew most of the adults from summer, but more so since I haven’t taken a “normal” adult ballet class and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’ve watched a few adult classes before, and usually there’s a pretty good amount of students. Yesterday, I was one of 6. 

I had watched a bit of the V’s class before ours, curious as to who all was taking it and how many there were. (The class of IV’s that just moved up is HUGE. which is pretty cool, honestly. That so many of them are sticking with it.) I didn’t notice any VI’s in the class and only noticed four returning V’s and there were so many students they had to pull out an extra barre. The teacher is new for this level this year, and it seems like it’s going to be a great year. I’m excited for them. I considered taking it since I’ll be there early anyway, and I’m taking the V’s Wednesday between classes, but didn’t register for it. Still indecisive. 

I’ve had a good past couple of days healthwise, which was a pleasant surprise. Mix that with the quaint class size and it made for one of the best classes I’ve had in a while. Mrs Alex taught, and I was able to be at a barre where I could see myself in the mirror without having to look through other people at the barre in front of the mirror (which is when I usually give up using the mirror at all) and was able to really see where I am versus where I need to be. The pace for adult is wonderful for finding where you need to be down to the detail and perfecting it, so I was able to get the feel for new head placements I hadn’t fully understood before and really using the upper body. I still need work, but yesterday just felt so good. It also wasn’t too bad on my knees, and the pace helped me be able to find where square is, even though it isn’t a natural position for me, and work the muscles to try and maintain square hips throughout combinations. It’s amazing how much more you can do when your hips are simply square. I was able to work on centering myself and really using my core. I felt like I was on top of the world, like I was really getting somewhere. 

After class, I tried on my new size 40 Russian Pointe Rubin’s to see how they do when my feet are warm, and they were great. The elastics are a bit loose, but I can fix that. I tried a pirouette on each side, just to see the feel of it, and they actually weren’t terrible. One of my friends who takes class with the principal dancers even said that they looked really solid and my balance in them looked good. That was so great to hear and honestly it was probably the best I’ve ever done turns. (Now to further work on my ankle flexibility, my spot, and getting my leg to a higher passé.)

I left class feeling alive and enlightened. Like I have a new hope that I can still learn and grow. That I’m not finished or hopeless. 

I was woken up this morning by stomach pains, which have been with me all morning. I’ll spare you the details, but I feel like all those good days I had this weekend have come back to bite me all at once. Maybe it was the core use yesterday getting back at me today, but dang I’m in pain and wiped out after hardly doing a thing. I’m going to try and push through anyway to maintain the regimin I have made for myself to try and get stronger. I realize I can’t do everything I wish I could do, but if I just start where I am and make a habit of it, I’ll see results in time. I can’t give up. 

I think it helps that the Olympics are going on right now as well. They give me hope. You see these athletes that no one expect to even get into the finals walk away with gold medals. Just because you aren’t what’s deemed “the best” doesn’t mean all hope is lost. 

And you never see someone just give up. Even if they mess up terribly or know they don’t have the start value to win, they go out there and do their best and are so proud of themselves. That’s how it should be. That’s inspiring. 

Do your best where you are with what you have. That is the formula for success. 

Last Summer Class. 

Tonight we had a guest teacher in class. Her name is Kirsten, and she used to take class at our studio growing up, along with her sister, until she graduated. From there she went to the Houston Ballet school, then to University of Utah (I believe) and was recently signed on as an apprentice with the Oklahoma City Ballet. She was in our class on Monday, which showed clearly that she was very skilled but also I was struck by her humility and sweetness as well as her confidence. It didn’t come off as cocky, just a firm belief in herself. A rare gift, really. A fine balance. That in itself can set apart a dancer. 

In class today, she spoke more than I think most teachers we have usually do, but I greatly appreciated it. She was clear with us on what she wanted, in detail, and in turn was able to get out the details I can lack from the combinations. For me coming into this as an adult, some of the basics are missed just from not going through the ranks like most of these have, so any detail or explanation I can get is one I cling to. 

But even so, when she spoke, she used her words wisely. Nothing was overly repetitive, and it was all clear and descriptive. It really helped me to have a better understanding of corrections other teachers have given. Sometimes all it takes is a new voice to say it or to describe it a slightly different way, and I believe part of it was also just the person she is. Plus she’s at a very unique place in her ballet journey, having just become an apprentice. She has all this experience in the ballet schools and in company auditions and fresh insight that really is beneficial. I’m so glad she shared it. 

She expanded on the things Ms. Clara from the ballet forum had told me about using specific muscles to help me maximize turnout and lift out of my shoes and lift in the knees. Things I’ve been told to work on, but having it explained and demonstrated by her helped it all click together in my brain. Like each direction was a puzzle piece and the puzzle was finally completed. (At least that section of the vast puzzle that is ballet 😂) 

Class felt good, even though my back has been hurting pretty badly and my stomach decided it wanted to throw me through a loop right before class. I pushed through anyway, hopeful that maybe class would help. It seems to have so far, but tomorrow will tell more about my back. I also ordered a different lift for my shoe to hopefully make up the difference in the lengths to help, without being too over corrected. 

A few of the combinations were new and a bit of a challenge. I was excited for the challenge, but definitely messed it up more than I would have liked, haha! But I was able to figure out where I went wrong and fix it, and learned a few new transitions and things today too so that was really great. It was fun to have something new in class, a new perspective again. And being the last class before Fall classes start up Monday, it was a great way to go out of summer. 


Kirsten and I after class. 

She also has a YouTube channel that I think is really great! If y’all want to follow her it’s TwinTalksBallet 

She has perfect French Twists, of which you’ll find a video on her channel of how to execute such perfection, among other wonderful videos. So check her out! 

She also has a Twitter, which is at twinstalkballet. (Don’t confuse the placement of that s! 😉 )

My dear friend over at Bush Ballerina left me a comment that really encouraged me. She helped me see the perspective of getting to dance at all. So many times I get caught up in trying to improve at some pace that I have set in my head. That I should be better than I am. When this is no ones story but my own. I’m not the same age as these girls around me, I’ll never have the opportunities some of them have, I can’t have the careers they could have. That’s not my story, it’s theirs. But it doesn’t make my story any less, just different. 

And isn’t that sort of the theme of my life? I’ve never fit the mold, never really been what people expected me today. I’ve beat my own drum and danced to it. I’ve stuck to my convictions even if they weren’t popular or understood. I’ve tried to be unapologetically myself, even if I didn’t fully understand quite who that self was. I don’t always succeed in this endeavor, but I do my best. Why would I expect my ballet story to be any different? 

It won’t be perfect. That’s impossible. It won’t be what’s expected. It won’t always be understood. But what I can guarantee is that it’s mine, and that I have found myself in a wonderful place surrounded by great people who support me and want to see me achieve everything I can. They support me, quirks and complications and all, and want to see me succeed right where I am and help me get to where I want to go. They give me opportunities I probably wouldn’t have elsewhere and never really expected to be able to have in my life even here. I can’t let myself forget  that. I can’t forget where I came from, and how far I’ve gone in the almost five years I’ve been dancing, especially given the challenges I’ve faced. 

Kirsten was born pigeon toed, which you’d never know seeing her turn out. She told us of what she realized that helped her find her proper turnout and build the muscles needed to maintain it. 

Having her example in class, and Zoe’s comment (Bush Ballerina) really showed me that even when I feel like I’m completely isolated with absolutely no hope, that I’m not alone. Other people have been where I am, or at least in similar places. If they can do it, so can I. I also think of my friend with scoliosis when I try and fight my crooked back. Those small things can encourage someone more than they’ll ever realize, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. 

There’s a dancer who’s been in these interim classes that really surprised me. She has improved so much over the summer that it’s almost like she’s a completely different dancer. Starting off in a lower class, she didn’t let it get her down. She worked hard and studied hard and soaked up any bit of advice or direction she could get and applied it. It has clearly paid off. I think it’s that drive that you have to have to get through something difficult like being put in a different class than your friends or people your age. You can either be defeated and complain, or you can trust your teacher has a reason for it and work your tail off to show them you can do it. That work ethic is what can set dancers apart and make them a dark horse to watch out for. Quiet leader. She still has more to learn, but her progress is incredible and she has the correct attitude to only go up from here. I know for sure I have learned so much from her example, and am grateful to know her. I hope to apply her example to my life. 

I’m really risking it by eating my third salad in a row tonight, but they’re just so good I’m just gonna go for it and cross my fingers that I don’t regret it later. Tomorrow will tell. Maybe I’ll get lucky and somehow my body won’t hate me over it. 

Ps. My company jacket makes me feel like I’m an Olympian. I pretend at least. It makes me feel like I’m part of something, a family. I take pride in it, I worked hard to earn it, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to wear it. 

Keep your heads up and hope alive. 

The sky can’t be dark forever. 

A little update. 

I’ve had to miss a few more classes here and there for various reasons, and it makes me sad every time I do. I try not to let it get to me too much, though, as this is life and unexpected things happen all too often. 

I was able to make Monday’s class and I’ll be in class again tonight (with a guest teacher who took class with us Monday and from what I gather is newly made company member somewhere. I hope to get more details tonight. She was great and really kind.) 

Life has been rather difficult for me lately, in many different ways and avenues. I keep holding on to hope that things won’t always be this way, but until that happens the days are long and hard. I have found that this makes class harder. I guess I forget how much I fight against just to dance until my strength is sapped by other things and I have to dig deep to keep my spirits up. 

My stomach is ever-complicated, my back has been causing numerous issues of its own with pain in my left lower back I don’t seem to have explanation for, as well as the “normal” complications from having the uneven legs. It’s possible this is a result of that but my chiropractor just blames the fact I dance. But I’ve been dancing far less since it started hurting, and dancing keeps my health largely in check for the most part. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I didn’t dance. What I have to deal with when I can’t make it too consistently is complicated enough. 

So what do I do? Do I give in to the excuses I’m rightfully handed? Do I fight against all these complications? How much is too much to fight? Where do I draw a line? When do I tap out? Do I? 

It’s exhausting, trying to find the balance in being able to do the one thing that makes me feel alive. I found myself in tears recently at the thought that everything in life is wearing me down so much that it’s compromising the thing in life that makes me happy to be alive. And that there isn’t much I can do about it. 

So, I struggle. I fight against symptoms of these larger issues and thoughts that enter my mind telling me I can’t do the things I’ve been able to do in the past. Thoughts that tell me I’m not enough. That it’s not worth the fight; that I’m not worth the fight. I fight against loneliness, though I am grateful for the few I have that are here for me, but it is a road you largely walk alone. Few understand. And those few that do I greatly appreciate, though I feel for them having to walk similar roads, I am grateful we are at least together in that. 

I don’t know that I’ll be posting quite as often as I have been lately–after every class and all. My goal is to give you fewer, more quality posts, rather than posting just because I usually do and it’s what is expected. I’ll definitely update any time I learn something profound or worth sharing, much like I did at the humble beginnings of this blog when it was centered around “everything I need to know about life, I learned in dance class.” Little bits of wisdom you can glean along the way. 

Classes start next week, my first class being on Wednesday. I’m excited and nervous and hopeful. 

Stay tuned 😊