Start of the new school year.

This week marked the first week back at classes at our studio.

I’m only teaching Saturdays this year, so today was my first day.

I was a bit nervous because we added a 5-6 year old class, giving me 4 classes in a row, and a fairly consistent private after that, putting me at the studio teaching from 10-2. Now, if you’ve been following along, you’ll remember I’m chronically ill and don’t have, ya know, energy.

This is a huge risk for me, but my hope is since I’m pretty consistent during the week that I’ll be able to have enough energy for saturdays to make it through.

I was excited to find that so many of the names on my roster were ones I recognized, whether I taught the kids or had subbed their classes.

Classes are supposed to cap at 18, but my first class I believe ended up with 20. Already. First day. I’m not really worried because a good amount of them won’t show up, or at least not consistently, and the class seems to be full of kids that actually want to be there. It makes the classes function so much better, especially giant classes, if the kids actually care enough to be there. I have no clue how I’ll do recital, but if they keep up how they did today, I’ll be able to do fun stuff with them.

I think we’re gonna move a few of the 4-5 year olds to the 5-6, since the last class is rather empty and a few of them are on the older side of things anyway. I’m hopeful the 5-6 class will do better with more kids in it, but they’re good kids as it is. The 3-4 class doesn’t have many in it either, but I’m hoping once I learn all their names it’ll be a pretty decent class.

I had a truly mind blowing experience in my 4-5 year old class. If you’ve followed my story, you’ll know I danced briefly when I was a kid (six and seven, then ten and eleven) before my mom pulled me out. I came back to ballet when I was 23 because the pull of the dream of dancing was too big to ignore. This summer, I had one of my friends from high school enroll her daughter. She did so well and seemed to love it so much, I was pumped to see her back in class today. Then, my mind blew when behind her was the daughter of one of the girls I used to dance with, and probably haven’t seen since. We ended up at the same high school, but I didn’t have any classes with her.

Her daughter was a bit nervous, so she sat in with her this first class to see if we could get her warmed up, and it was so wild that a girl who was with me at my very beginnings when we were kids was now watching me teach. Me. Teaching. Teaching her kid. I don’t think anyone would have seen this coming. I wasn’t ever good at ballet, I never looked like a dancer, it’s still a new thing if someone can ever recognize my dancing background off of me. (And part of why Paul harris’ comment last blog post meant so much to me)

Time is weird.

I made it through the classes well enough. I’m exhausted, as expected, and my heart feels kind of weird and my head just started hurting, but that’s alright. I’m taking things slowly.

I’m hopeful for these classes. I didn’t realize how good it would feel to be surrounded by a bunch of tiny humans I know and love. These past couple weeks have been pretty intense and jarring, but being with all these kids made me feel so good and truly helped my heart.

Ballet is magical.

Dueling ballet.

I didn’t expect to have something worth blogging here after a Harry Potter convention, but here I am, writing a blog about something that happened at a Harry Potter convention.

This past week was a whirlwind. I drove to Dallas to fly to Seattle for 13 hours so i could go to an Alison Sudol show, then back to Dallas for a convention called LeakyCon. (Think Leaky Cauldron.)

LeakyCon has easily become my favorite thing every year, coming together with hundreds of people who’s weirdest thing about them is the weirdest thing about you, knowing any references I throw into normal conversation will be completely understood. I come with friends and then make a bunch more, meet some of the actors, go to panels about literally everything, attend a wizard wrock concert and the Esther Earl ball and have all the fun.

This year, they brought in Paul Harris, who choreographed (for lack of better words) the dueling sequences for the movies. He’s a dancer originally, and director David Yeats tasked him with essentially creating the language of dueling.

We got to hear him talk of the background he pulled from, his favorite scenes, how he ended up staying longer and working more in depth than planned, and many fun behind the scenes stories.

He mentioned how since he is a dancer, he came at the task with the thought that if all of ballet is foundationally based from 5 position, why not dueling? He showed us the 5 defensive and 5 offensive positions it all originated from, which are the positions all new actors are taught when they learn how to duel.

As we were doing it, I found myself feeling like I was back in a dance class. Paying attention to the details of the movement, trying to make sure I’m facing the right direction, and true to form doing things opposite. (He corrected me, I laughed.) When Paul Harris made the comment, “okay, now, you do a plie in second” the girl behind me and I made a sound of understanding and realized we were both dancers. It was super fun.

He used me as an example at one point unexpectedly, which was super fun, then we split off into groups to create our own battle scene. He picked three groups to show theirs, including my new dancer friend who’s was my favorite.

At the end, my friend I came with and I went to get a picture with Paul Harris. As we thanked him and went to leave, he turns to me and says, “dance classes” before moving on to the next group for a photo, saying it in a tone that suggested he could tell I had a dance background.

I walked out of that room on cloud freaking nine.

The man who choreographed the Cheetah Girls could tell I was a dancer just from dueling. He had told me “good!” And “right!” A few times, like it were a dance class, and that alone made me feel super good, but that comment on the end meant more than he could ever know.

I haven’t taken a class in a year. I teach, but hardly do anything anymore and honestly, my days are numbered. But this man could tell that I danced. And he said something to let me know he could.

Being sick is hard. You go through various phases of grief and acceptance, then think you’ve got it down, then realize there’s about 30 more layers just to scratch the surface. Obviously one of the biggest parts of me that’s affected is my relationship to dance. This thing I fought for all these years essentially ripped from me in a slow fade over a matter of mere months. Realizing I don’t need to save up for my favorite dance skirt anymore because I can’t wear it, or having use for the custom leotards I had just received, not feeling that blissful exhaustion after a class that really challenged you, not being able to set goals in dance and work to achieve them.

It’s a process.

And oftentimes, it feels like something a part of my past.

But his comment made me realize that, even though I can’t take the classes anymore, I can’t physically do it, this is still a part of me. It’s a huge chunk of my story and it’s something that I’ll carry with me forever. I don’t have to prove that I am (or was) an adult dancer to anyone. It’s in me.

Thank you, Paul Harris.