Typically, at least once a summer, we’ll have a guest teacher come in to teach either during the studio’s intensive, or in the continuing classes between intensive and classes starting back up again.
This summer, we had Lindsi Dec from Pacific Northwest Ballet come in to teach class on Wednesday. She and her husband, Karel, were here two summers ago to teach classes, but it was in the morning intensive classes when I had to work so I missed them. I was so bummed. When I heard she was coming back this week, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have any random health complications like last week to keep me from being as fully present as I’m able to be.
Thankfully, my body kept it together, and I was able to attend.
I was a bit nervous going into it, as I tend to be with all new teachers. I find myself torn on if I should tell them that I’m impaired, for lack of better word, or if I should just roll with it and hope for the best. Recent days have taken away any of the guesswork on if I should say something, but part of me still wishes I could just pretend I’m “normal” and do my best and if I struggle maybe they’ll just assume I’m just not that great of a dancer and move on with life. *hah* More often then not, it’s the debate of how much I let on. Thankfully, friends of mine know Mrs. Lindsi and told me how kind and wonderful she is, so I felt enough confidence to shove aside the anxiety of it all and go. (Yesterday was a day full of facing these silly little anxiety induced things I avoid that hold me back from things I love, including going to a fun new coffee shop alone successfully, but more on that later I’m sure.)
There were already a few dancers there when I arrived about 15 minutes early. My friend and I assumed it would be a pretty big class since there was a guest teacher, and I was glad she suggested arriving with enough time to get a good spot at the barre because she was right. I decided to approach Mrs. Lindsi before class and just sort of get to the point of it. I think what I ended up saying was something to the effect of, “just wanted to let you know that I have a list of various impairments I don’t want to bore you with, but I’ll just be doing barre. So don’t be alarmed if I sit out center.” Of course, she was absolutely cool about it and even told me to modify whatever I needed to. It made me feel far more at ease about even being there, for which I was grateful.
I often find myself wishing I was a naturally confident person, that I didn’t second guess nearly everything or let anxiety try to whisper in my ear worries I never would have considered on my own, but that’s not me. My reality is that I deal with these things, I fight them, and sometimes they win, but that’s okay. I’m grateful for the days the battle falls in my favor, and super grateful for times when people are naturally kind in ways that sets my inner battle at ease. This was one of those times.
The next silly concern in my head was wondering if, in saying something, I would cause her to write me off as someone to pay attention in class. I didn’t take her to be someone who would do this, but often with teachers, especially in a big class, they’ll focus more on the ones that they feel or see will use the correction, or ones that are doing this for more than just funsies. I almost forgot to wonder this one, which is a weird sentence to type but makes sense in my head. Not that I wanted to wonder it, but I was sort of proud that I cared enough to wonder it, even though I’m slowly remembering that I don’t really have anything to strive for past my own drive to be better. There aren’t any roles to try for or anything to prove, really. I’m having to relearn where I belong in the world of dance, and it’s a multi layered thing I’m still discovering every day.
Like in Kansas, I was grateful I decided to do barre full out and sit out center, even though center is my favorite part. The way she did barre made me feel just as alive as center usually does, and didn’t have many if any of the steps or combinations that can stress me out with all the ways I have to compromise and modify. I was able, for the first time in a while, to simply do barre and mostly just worry about my performance and how much I was giving to it, rather than about what hurt or was cracking. Don’t get me wrong, my heart was flittering and my brain was deciding it was a good time to go dizzy and my lungs were not seeming to get enough air despite making sure I was breathing through the exercises (which I’m usually terrible at) but I don’t feel I focused on these as much as I usually do. My brain was clear enough to retain the combinations like I used to, leaving me feel confident enough to focus on my body’s abilities. It was refreshing.
I was excited when I noticed that Mrs. Lindsi was focusing on each dancer in turn throughout the combination. More than just a fleeting glance, she was correcting little things, and staying with the dancer until the correction was understood and implemented, being honest if it was close to correct but not quite there, while also making us all feel like we were freaking rock stars when we did things correctly. It was the perfect balance of correction and praise, leaving us striving to want to do more and learn more and try more, while also not feeling like we don’t have something to offer or like it all was too difficult to even try to strive for. I respected that.
There was a combination I was a bit concerned for that involved fondu’s. Typically, these are problematic for me with my uneven legs/hips/etc, causing pain in my knees and making things complex. I had just gotten a new shoe lift before class that I was trying out, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it significantly helped in fondu’s specifically, giving me a more even platform to plie from and helping me start with even hips and build from there. Once I noticed this, I became less nervous about the combination as a whole, even though it was the one that contained a few parts I was less than confident in throughout due to said long list of ailments. Mrs. Lindsi walked by at that point and I noticed her look from the dancer in front of me, on to me. When she did so, she said, “Good! Nice!” and carried on. It wasn’t in a general way, I know she saw me and analyzed what I was doing before saying it. It made me feel so good, a sort of reward for facing all the anxieties today and giving my heart the little ballet burst it has been searching for for a while. I got another “good!” during a balance I didn’t think I would actually hold but did. I struggled more with balances since the shoe lift doesn’t go through to the ball of my foot, therefore leaving me to have to readjust things and figure it all out to stay stable, but also lifted.
We had an hour long barre, and I managed to make it through the entire thing. My back was hurting by the end of it, I’m sure largely in part to getting used to the new shoe lift as is common, and my heart was do it’s palpitating it likes to do, and my hands were shaking a bit, but overall I still had a minimal brain fog which I was grateful for. I stayed in class to watch center, which made me so wish I could be out there trying all the corrections she was saying, but also grateful to get to sit in and hear them, as well as see them implemented by my friends. Seeing the light in their eyes as they take a correction, apply it, and see positive results is something I cherish, knowing they are so proud of themselves in that moment and seeing their confidence build a notch. I’m proud of these little nuggets.
I hope to make at least one more class, maybe two, before fall starts up. I don’t know that I’ll be able to take classes then since they’ll start later, putting me home after 10pm, but I’m trying to find different alternatives. One of my dear instagram friends suggested a good barre video that’s lowkey on ailments but good on the body and heart that I want to get (once I have income again) so hopefully that will yield positive results.
I hope you all are doing really well and are striving to be the best version of yourself, wherever that finds you. You’re worth it.