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.