Recital 2019

Classes wrapped up for the year the week before last, and recital was this past weekend. I was hoping to get this blog post written sooner then I am, but less than a week isn’t too bad, honestly.

This was the first year I was actually pretty nervous going into it. I had hoped to get the classes a little further along than I did over the course of the year, but that just wasn’t the case for most of them. I didn’t get to rehearse many of the little details that go into recital, like walking on the stage to our spots and the bow at the end and walking off, I had to change things up on them a few weeks before recital (keep in mind they’re all ages 3-8) with a one kid not showing up to rehearsal but coming to show day (after missing the last week of classes and having spotty attendance before that), one not showing up at all, and one getting sick the day of the show. Of course all of these are in the front line, so I ended up with a back line of 11 and a front line of 8. This was the class that I already had to combine last minute since the classes that were supposed to be separated into separate dances on separate days weren’t, so they were already rather thrown off. My young ones were full of talkers (though they’re stinking cute) and I wasn’t sure how they would all do on stage. My class of littles that were my rockstars had one that panicked on stage and two that kept arguing during rehearsal, and none of my Friday show kids got to practice with the black light.

Nervous is saying the least.

Friday just felt like a tense day overall. It seemed that all the little things that could go wrong did, and staying on top of everything and positive about it all was quite a challenge. Thankfully I had assistants that are TOTAL rock stars and the volunteers we had that day were so on top of it. There’s no way it would have gone as well as it did without them.

We have what we call “runner sheets”, which are papers that have all the dancers names and where they enter, any music cues, lighting cues, costume specifics, etc that are used by the teachers, volunteers, green room quick changes, Lights, sound, curtain–literally everyone. I was working the dancer check in when I noticed my first class that evening, the second dance, was missing. This was my biggest class with the talkers, and I was just super grateful I had my notebook that has where everyone stands with me. When sign in calmed down, I asked Ms. Munro about it. They were aware it was missing and she said my assistants were up there with them and asked if I could check in on them. (This was a good 15 minutes before we start bringing the kids down, so we had plenty of time.)

I go up there, and two of my assistants have them all in a row, in their order, waiting up against the wall. I had forgotten I had sent them the recital order in case a few forgot to switch lines they could know who is supposed to go to the back line and run on stage in costume and fix them really quickly. I literally let out a sigh of relief when I walked upstairs to see it was all in order. These girls are seriously the best.

A few of my kids got a little scared and started crying. As I bent down to hug them and help calm them down, I remembered bending down isn’t such a good idea. When we got them calm (You’re wearing momma’s magic mascara! We don’t want to cry and make it all go away!) (it worked, y’all) I stood up and within about three second had to hold on to the nearest person so I wouldn’t fall over. Thankfully it was a friend and fellow teacher walking by and I was able to grab her shoulder and steady myself for about 30 seconds until it passed.

Hair pieces were lost and borrowed from other classes with similar looking ones, bathroom breaks were done in time to not hold up the show, lines weren’t switched on the one dance but that’s okay because everyone danced the best they’ve done all year and I was so proud. I even laughed because backstage we have them “put a bubble in your mouth!” to help keep them from being tempted to talk. A few of them kept it even on stage, so instead of smiling, they’re dancing around with puffed up cheeks the entire time. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it; there’s nothing I could do and also I was proud of them for being so determined to follow the rules when it truly mattered.

One of my older girls got scared of the dark while waiting back stage and as I held her there until the lights came up I was a bit nervous I wouldn’t be able to function when I needed upon standing. Thankfully, the lights came up a little early so I was able to gather myself in time.

Overall, Friday went over really well. It was the best the kids had done, my Monday class didn’t panic like had happened at rehearsal, and everyone danced great and had a good reaction from the audience.

Saturday felt calmer for me from the start. Maybe it was the peace that comes with familiarity of having successfully completed the day before, maybe it was that these classes had my kids all from one day, I don’t know but I wasn’t complaining.

I had all three of my Saturday dances within the first five numbers. I was a bit nervous about this, but once again my assistants for these classes are rock stars. (One even was just a fill in and she offered to help which ended up making a huge difference for me.)

My brain did space out at a couple points where the kids ended up on stage in an inverted order to what they were supposed to. One of them even tried to tell me, but I didn’t understand what she meant until she literally walked on stage. *Face Palm* Thankfully, these kids are all so on top of it that no one would know if you didn’t know. They danced so well and I was so very proud of them. My favorite is seeing them comes off stage after with giant smiles on their faces, clearly proud of themselves and living their best lives. They worked so hard and faced their nerves to really knock it out of the park.

Saturday feels more like a blur since they were all literally back to back. I do vividly remember my 4-5 Saturday class doing it so well that it messed me up (but they had it right.) I was so incredibly proud of them that I was bursting. Everyone remembered where they were supposed to go and did everything correctly even when my brain spaced. My 3-4 year olds on Saturday were on top of everything so much my jaw literally dropped. They nailed the entire thing and seemed to be having the time of their lives.

During check in on Saturday, a grandparent of a dancer came up and asked if I was Emilee and that she had a question. I met her on the other side of the table so we were out of the way and she told me, “I saw your dances last night and was really impressed with your choreography. You can tell that your kids know what they’re doing and know the steps and that you truly care about them!” At this point, I’m thinking, are you sure it’s me and not the other Emily? Then she pulls out her program and says “I marked your dances because I wanted to make sure I found you. I want my granddaughter in your class next year.” This blew my mind. She was seeing the dances I was so nervous about and beating myself up over. (Not because of the dancers, but because of myself. ps.) I am so bad about comparing myself to other people or to other versions of myself whenever I have to realize that reality may not be comparable to that. The circumstances I’m faced with can be completely different from what I had before or what others may have. Everything is constantly changing and evolving and we have to be open to that. This woman’s comments made me feel like I’m doing something right.

I also had many of my former students ask me what I’ll be teaching so they can get their kids in my class, and others asking about private lessons with me. It was reaffirming in ways I am beyond grateful for. My relationship with dance has changed so much since it began. So much of it feels and is a loss, but I am increasingly grateful for and amazed by what I still do have. I still have these kids. I can still teach. And from what I’m seeing, these kids still love ballet.

I’m also very proud of my “kids” I used to dance with that are all growing up and blowing my mind. The advanced dances were so beautiful and honestly if I looked at any one dancer I would cry. I had to watch them as a whole to keep from losing it. They are all just growing and doing so well and it makes me so proud to see them sticking with this and working so hard at something they love. They are the proof of the passage of time and I know they’ll be graduating and going off soon, but until then I’m going to savor every moment with them.

I wanted to have this posted on Sunday, and in reality having it posted Wednesday isn’t that bad, but recital took more out of me than I expected. I’m grateful I didn’t pass out, but often I wouldn’t realize how weak my body was until those moments or until I got home and the weight of it all came crashing down on me. Sunday and Monday I was effectively worthless, I’m still not sure how I got through Monday’s work day. I’m doing my best to take care of myself these coming days, while also trying not to fall behind on things I can’t avoid. My body has been having new pains and things happening which is a bit alarming, but it’s hard to say if it’s just a flair up or a new normal.

Summer classes start up for me June 8th, and from here on I’ll only be teaching Saturday’s. It’s too difficult to try and do more than one thing in a day consistently now that I’m working part time, and I really need to try and make this my main focus, but I am so grateful to still have my hand in teaching and hopeful that it will be fulfilling and something that endures.

In September, Allie and I will make our way over to London, so if you’re in the area and haven’t reached out yet, please do! We’ll post more details as plans get more concrete, but I’m very excited to be able to do this, even if I’m not sure how my body will react, haha!

 

Please enjoy some behind the scenes pictures from this weekend 🙂

 

 

 

Last week of classes 2019

When we start class, especially at the beginning of the year, we go around and say our name, age, and favorite whatever I decide for that week. This typically becomes “color” or “princess” for my little ones since they have ready answers for those. (Plus It’s easier to remember when I’m unprepared, as per usual.)

This week I’ve asked what their favorite thing about ballet is.

Their answers vary from “making pizza” referring to a stretching exercise we do, to actual ballet terms they remember (specifically passé and plié), to one naming a specific assistant of mine 😂

When It gets to my turn, I tell them my favorite is teaching all of them–and it truly is.

There’s this quote that’s constantly in the back of my mind since I’ve had to stop dancing, “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” Since first hearing this quote, I’ve resented it, but at this point in my life I am so grateful to be able to teach.

It’s slowing down, it’s becoming more and more minimal, but it’s still possible. And for that I am immensely grateful.

This year I’ve experienced my first true problematic parents. There’s really nothing else we could do to help the situation, so I’m trying not to beat myself up about it and instead try and learn from it. Still, every time I get to that class I find myself tensing up, knowing that the parents will be watching through the window (which at this point most don’t.) I feel pressure. It’s not my favorite. It’s the first time I’ve had a few months where I wasn’t looking forward to teaching, actually looking forward to the years end. Obviously, I’m not looking forward to everything ending, but the bits that make me feel like this.

I wrote out cards to each of my kids, like I do every year, and planned to get lollipops for them. A simple way to end the year. When I was their ages, teachers meant a lot to me. I still keep in touch with my second grade teacher, as well as many from high school. Their opinion of me was something I held in high regard, and how they made me feel is a sort of guide point I use in hopes to teach these kids the way I was privileged to be treated and hopefully they can feel the way I did. I want them to like coming to ballet, to feel safe in my class, to know someone cares about them. I want this to be a positive experience for them, whether they stick with it or not.

This week, as I handed out candy and cards to each of my kids, making sure I bring extra lollipops for siblings, a couple of the moms thanked me and the kids came running up hugging me and telling me they love me (which, honestly, melt.) one of the moms of one of my 4 year olds was asking me about recital details between classes and a lady next to her asked me if I would be teaching in the summer and next fall. I told her I would only be teaching saturdays (this was during the week) since I have ME and have to slow it down a bit and asked how old her dancer was. She said one daughter already dances but she has a 4 year old she wants to put in. I told her I have a 4-5 year old class that if she can make I’d love to have her. She responded, “these kids all love you so much, I want my daughter to have you as a teacher. What’s your name?”

She was the second person that day who didn’t know me, encountered me around other dancers, and asked who I was so their child could be in my class.

And honestly, I feel pretty crappy quite a bit. Especially as I’m still learning to accept the changes being sick has brought on. I’m having to give up more than I ever wanted and missing out on stuff I had hoped to be a part of. So to have these two simple reminders at the end of such a long year full of so many challenges and changes really meant a lot to me. It felt like I’m still doing something right. That even though a few classes didn’t rise to where I had hoped they would by the end, that it wasn’t a waste to try anyway. That the time we spent together was still valuable, even if most of it was spent correcting the things I had already corrected 7 times in the last 10 minutes. (And all the moms and mom figures say “amen.”)