Proud Grandpa. 

There are two different companies in the city I dance in. I have friends in the company I’m not part of, and their Nutcracker is this weekend. Since I didn’t have rehearsal yesterday, I got me a ticket to see them dance. 😊

I found out that if there are two seats directly center, and you only want one of them, they won’t sell it to you. Instead, I got one at the end of an aisle. The seat row are super small, making having an end help with my knees. Because clearly I’m 87. 

I ended up sitting by the family of one of the company members, specifically by her Grandpa. He was a nice man, and didn’t talk much. We joked a bit at the beginning. I offered to switch seats or rows since they’ll family was split between two rows, but they had it three on one row and three on the other, so it was okay. I introduced myself to grandpa, and the show began. 

I had a few friends in the first scene as party parents, so it was really fun to get to see them have such a great time. 

When they brought out the boxes with the dolls, I faintly hear a voice say something. Then I hear from next to me, “darlin’, that’s my granddaughter.” He had the biggest smile on his face. 

She has beautiful feet and perfectly hyperextended legs and did a really great job of the role. He told me how her feet have been raw for weeks and of all the long rehearsals she’s done every day. He was so proud. 

As her part ended and the show went on, I found myself choked up a bit as I realized I sat next to someone’s grandpa, watching proudly as his granddaughter danced. My Grandpa was a stoic old war veteran, often saying cold or hurtful things without batting an eye. I remember him making me cry as a child. But I also remember how proud it made him that I danced. He lived in Kansas and didn’t get to see me often, but he made it down for a recital, and anytime we went up to visit, he would ask me if I was doing that toe dancing. He’d call me twinkle toes. He passed away my junior year of high school. I was his unspoken favorite granddaughter, and I didn’t get to go to his funeral because of exams. I often wonder what he’d think of me now. I was pulled out of ballet as a kid before I could get pointe shoes, but he’d still ask me about it. When I got older and thought of things I wanted to accomplish before I die, I realized how badly I wanted to actually do “toe dancing.” The “twinkle toe” stuff that somehow bonded my grandpa and me. So I started classes, got shoes two years later, and here I am still dancing. I wonder what he’d think about it. If he’d be able to come down and watch, if they’d have to drag him or if he’d want to go. If he’d lean over to the stranger next to him in the audience and say, “darlin’, that ones my granddaughter.”

Holidays make me feel lots of things. A lot of times they’re a struggle for me. I find ways to get through anyway, but it doesn’t make it easy, really. Having the friends I’ve made that are like family to me has become more invaluable than words can really express. My grandpa may not be here, and I may not have any special part, I may hardly even be seen in the crowd of other dancers, but I know I have people who love me, even if I’m just me. My dad is coming to see me, which means more than I can say. He couldn’t care less about ballet, but he cares about me more than the pain of sitting through an endless ballet he’s seen more times than he’s cared to and that he wouldn’t go to if I wasn’t in it. But I am. So he does. And he does so gladly. 

These little things really make a world of difference. So if you’re out there feeling like your life doesn’t matter much, just remember that the little bits of kindness you extend means more than you’ll ever realize. 

And as I have Nutcracker music playing and popping on my record player as I type this out, I can’t help but think of my grandpa, and how he would feel seeing me doing all this at my “old” age. 

There’s magic in the ballet. And I’m honored to get to be a part of it in my small way. I love getting to witness it and support my friends and all their hard work. I love having this thing that bonds us in ways we wouldn’t have had we not danced. I love the world this opens me up to. 

I’m so grateful. 

(Proud of you all! Great show last night! You’ll be beautiful snowflakes tonight!)

Mondays.

I would like to think the SuperMoon is to blame for a lot of the craziness the beginning of this week has held, but I don’t know if that’s all that true, or if all of it can really be blamed on it. (Some of it, for sure.)

With everything going on with my health that doesn’t quite make sense, I’ve been rather overwhelmed and drained. I contemplated skipping class on Monday, since it’s the only day I can skip since I teach the other days I’m there. I thought of how the studio will be closed next week for Thanksgiving, and how–if I’m honest with myself–I didn’t want to skip at all.

It’s my favorite class, I think, though I do like the others I take. But I know I can be more relaxed in the adult class, and I know that my teacher knows what’s going on (as much as I know, at least) and if something were to happen, it would be okay to not have to pretend like it’s not happening. So many times I feel so much pressure to keep up that I’m not sure if I should be concerned about what I’m pushing through, or if paying attention to it would just be me being weak. The struggle.

I was glad I went. I was grateful to have an hour to dance and move and feel alive. To forget everything else going on around me, and just dance. My knee started hurting and my back was still tweaked from whatever I did to it this weekend, and my head was hurting, and everything else that’s normal, but I didn’t think about them much. And I was able to do these combinations that made me feel good and remind my why all this is worth it.

We are rehearsing in costumes this weekend. Which I absolutely cannot believe that it’s already this time of year. I feel like it’s still August, or early September at latest. Nope. It’s November. Which means that shows are, like, three weeks away. And Thanksgiving is next week. And what even is life. CALM DOWN TIME.

I’m working on Snow this weekend with my friend, Emily, who is new to our studio and also teaches. I’m pretty excited about it. I know she’ll be real with me but also not just eat my soul. (Not saying any of our teachers here do that, but it’s always an irrational fear of mine. I blame my childhood.) My goal is to get the step I’m struggling with to be fluid so that I don’t second guess myself and screw up in front of everyone. I have to get past that mental block.

One of my favorite teachers from High School is coming to see me dance. She called me yesterday about tickets, and just hearing her voice flooded me with good feelings. I don’t think she realizes how detrimental she was to the person I have become. She taught me kindness and empathy and compassion, as well as how to face scary things and that doing hard things is necessary. I don’t know if she knows what I was going through while I was in her class and how she ultimately helped me out of it, but she did. There are a few other teachers that really helped shape me as well. I carry them in my heart. And when I choose kindness, empathy, compassion, and love, I think of them.

Be kind. Do what you can. You may never see what it produces, but I promise, it produces good things.

Invisible. 

My doctors appointment was Friday. I’m not sure what I expected, really, I guess I just hoped it would be an easy answer. I should have known better. 

She doesn’t think I have eds, she thinks it’s autoimmune related, yet we haven’t found more than they think I have ibs. Which, unless there’s more to ibs than what is commonly known (which is all I’ve been told) then I really don’t think I have it. But I don’t know. Whatever. 

She gave me orders for labs to be run for autoimmune disorders, as well as for eds. She separated them so I can do them separately if they’re too expensive since I don’t have real insurance. (It’s a sharing program, which is legit, but I don’t know if it covers this stuff. It’s frustrating.) 

Being real, after my appointment I sat in my car crying. I’m pretty sure the other set of labs she’s ordered are ones I’ve already done with no positive results. It’s disheartening to know I have to pay money I don’t have for labs that will more than likely come back negative. I don’t have anything left in me to try and figure out the complex insurance situation, yet I have to find a way to do it. My cousin has her appointment to be tested for eds in a couple weeks, so I’m going to hold off on that until she has her results. No sense spending copious amounts of money I don’t have to be tested for something if she comes back negative. (It’s genetic.) 

I was able to explain to my doctor how I’m not okay. I told her how there are things I’ve previous been able to do just fine and now I can’t. She asked if it was just since I’ve started ballet and I explained how some of it is literally just in the last month. She asked if I was overworked. I laughed. Yes, I am, but I have no choice. And I’m doing significantly less than usual and way more wiped out than usual. 

She did examine me and found my right wrist to be swollen at the joint, which concerned her. She didn’t say much about the rest of the stuff she was looking for. 

I like that she doesn’t make me feel stupid when she thinks I’m wrong. Still, I felt stupid and naive and beat myself over the head on how this all just has to be in my mind, or that I’m making it out to be more than it really is. That I’m just being dramatic and need to get over it. 

Which is all fine and good, until I do just that and find myself getting super sick from pushing through. 

None of it makes sense. 

Yesterday we had snow rehearsal. I had a few friends help me with snow on Fridays to try and get it all clean and together and remember it all. Then my friend Adrienne and I went over it before rehearsal even started to make sure we had it down. 

I still have some working to do, as I can’t quite seem to get the step correctly. My teacher worked with me on it and showed me the proper way to execute it, so I just have to work on it to make sure it becomes fluid the proper way. I happen to be in the front for this part, so it’s extra important. Plus, I don’t want to be the one that messes up the beauty of the part for everyone. I want to do everything I can to be my best, and work hard at this to get it right. 

Sometimes I go along through class and rehearsal and feel like I’m the only one that sees me. That I blend, my details becoming near invisible. Not in a bad way, in an almost comfortable way. But I’m not. We’re seen. There’s always someone looking to us. We have influence, more than we realize. We are each a component in what makes up the big picture that is current reality. And if you ever feel like you don’t matter, just take a second to really realize what that entails. We all matter. We all have value. 

We’re also doing secret santa amongst the Snow cast again. This is my first year participating, and I found myself very nervous leading up to it. But I got someone that I’m excited about giving things to, so it’ll be good. 

We have flowers rehearsal today, which I need to brush up on the ending bit before we get going. I love flowers. I think it’s my favorite dance I’ve done. 

Keep going. Keep enduring. Keep fighting. 

Keep breathing. Half the battle is getting past the voices in your own head telling you you’re not enough. You are enough. You’re more than enough. And you being concerned about being better and striving to do so is proof of that. You’ll get there, my darling. Keep pressing on. 

Snow White Auditions. 

Our spring show this season is going to be an original choreography piece by Julie Green, who actually choreographed the first spring show I was in here. We did Wizard of Oz that time, and this time it’s Snow White. 

Since it’s a new, original piece we had the auditions early, that way she knows who she has to work with, they can get costumes rolling since they’ll largely be new, (or to see what we have that we can use) and everything else that goes into it. It’s a lot to piece together and get rolling in the mind of the creatives. 

We had those auditions yesterday, and i’m glad to know they’re over. Auditions just make me super nervous, largely due to the fact that i’m so much older than everyone i’m auditioning with. It’s a slightly awkward thing at times, mix in all my ailments and issues–it’s difficult. Trying to show them I can do things that my body just isn’t letting me do is frustrating. This time it was mainly my right leg. My achilles’ tendon has been giving me issues, and the muscles in my right leg have just been…weird. Almost as though they’re easily exhausted. Why the right leg? It’s my dominant leg, and the leg that’s usually worked the most. I don’t understand. Anyways. 

I made it through alright. My main focus was to just do what I could do and not freak out. To know that, thankfully, they know what I can do and what I’m capable of, and that the best thing is to go in with confidence. My goal was to begin and end each thing well, and just do my best in the middle. 

We started off with barre, which, thankfully, my body cooperated for and did what it can do on a normal time. I was in the first group of 10, but towards the end of it, making me go in the first group a few times, but second or third at others. We did a large amount of it in our flat shoes, which didn’t mean that it was automatically easy. But part of it was expected, and I knew that it wasn’t roles I was being considered for, so all you can do in those scenarios is your best with confidence. Then they’re more prone to see your effort. After all, they see you in class. they know what you can and can’t do. No sense getting worked up that you can’t do something that they know you can’t already do. 

We did a bit of acting as well, which I found to be extremely fun. there was one part where we were partnered up and then separated. We then had to come up with a character, it could be human or not, and we had to be in that character as we went to meet up with our partner, then interact in our characters. We were separated so we wouldn’t be able to plan with each other what we were, which made it so much fun. I toyed around with the idea of being a dog, and like. sniffing the butt of my partner (i knew her and knew it wouldn’t freak her out[and i wouldn’t reaaaaally sniff her butt. that’s gross]) but decided to be a fisherman instead. originally i wanted to row my bit by scooting, but it would take to long so i opted for being on my knees. (skinning them a little. hah.)  I then got out my fishing pole and caught a fish. Then i noticed my partner and threw my line at her. And she completely went with it, caught my line, and I reeled her in. It was hilarious, and actually quite perfect, becauase she was sadness. There was a pair that ended up being hilarious with a doll and an old lady. When the old lady couldn’t keep up with the doll, the doll just picked her up and ran off with her. We all laughed so hard! 

Then there was a part where she pulled out some girls from the rest. She had done this before with a big of the dwarf section, to better see some of the girls do it against each other. This time she separated some out to do a different section of a combination we learned. She called out the expected numbers of the advanced girls at the end of the group, then picked out a few more, including a couple of my friends. Then she took one last scan of everyone and called my number and another girls number. Now, I have no clue of the significance of this part to the grand scheme of things, but just knowing that I was included in with the group of girls (that were essentially the VI’s from last year) made me feel really good. So we all learned the combination, then those of us that had been separated out were put with two of the other girls. (one in the center, flanked by the other two.) The two were told to do the combination like normal, and those in the center were told to do it messed up and clumsy. Whatever that means to them. I went in the first group, and this was one of the most fun things i’ve ever done in an audition. As we went through, we ran out of the two’s, so they called out a few of the girls who had already gone in the center to be the flanks for the remaining girls. I got to go with my friend Abarrane as the other flank, and Alexis in the center. It was really fun because we were able to interact with her if we wanted to when she interacted with us. I loved it. So so much. Plus, I was just really glad i remembered the combination, because at first I was actually doing it the wrong way, before we knew we were supposed to mess it up. Some of the girls were absolutely hilarious. It was so much fun. 

We went on to the section en pointe, which was okay. I went into it telling myself I could do it and trying not to worry. Which was great, until we were doing this combination that was fast and a little difficult, but played to my strengths. which was great, until the chaines leading into it. I came out of one funny, semi-rolled my ankle, but not fully, just enough for my shoe to come off, and i couldn’t quite regain my bearings. I did my best to finish and was frustrated because I can actually do pique roll through really well. I let it go and moved on, hoping my ankle wasn’t jacked up. I pressed on, not wanting them to think i’m incapable. And it sucks cause I had just resewn my shoes so the heel wouldn’t fall off. Ugh. 

Thankfully at the end we did that part again, so I sort of got to redeem myself. it was fast and I landed hard on the jete, but it definitely could have been worse. 

All in all, I think this is the best audition I’ve had. I don’t know if that’s saying much, but whatever. The show will be fun. I have no clue when we’ll get the cast list, but i’ll let y’all know obviously. 

I’m glad it’s over. Stressing about it is worse than actually doing it. Now we can all carry on.