Cinderella 2023

Now that I’ve had a few days to pretend like I’m recovering, I’m finally sitting down to type up the blog post for Cinderella.

We had one weekend of shows; a school show on Friday, an evening show on Saturday, and a matinee on Sunday with rehearsals at the theater peppered between.

There were many bits that were exhausting and overwhelming, but all things considered this show went substantially better than Nutcracker did this past December. Maybe because I’m more confident in what I’m doing, maybe because the cast is smaller, maybe because it’s only one weekend, maybe a combination of these things and others–who knows. All I know is I’m grateful.

I’m also extremely grateful for the dance parents who have been absolutely phenomenal in giving of their time and energy to help make this show run smoothly. I can guarantee that their efforts contributed to how smoothly these shows went, and how much less stressful it was for me personally. They’re rock stars and my gratitude knows no bounds.

These rehearsals were long, and many of the dancers are young and not used to it, yet they handled it with grace and endurance. Much of the time they ended up being released early, but even then it wasn’t something we could know until rehearsals got started and we knew what areas needed work and which looked good.

I was a “Wig Maker” in the show, helping one of the Step-sisters in the Dressing Scene by putting the wig on after two other dancers got her ball gown on. Roles like this are really fun for me as you get the opportunity to really make the role your own. With one of the step-sisters, we brainstormed little bits we could do to make it funnier, like getting giant tweezers and “tweezing her face” as well as filing her nails and such. I also brought a giant feather I had to act as a quill a la Lady Whistledown from Bridgerton. The whole scene lasted maybe three minutes or so, and they decided to let us bow at the end. This took me by surprise, as usually first act scenes don’t bow at the end of second act, especially a little bit part like this, but I can see why, given that if we didn’t we would literally be the only ones in the show not bowing.

I called my costume, affectionate, “The Potato” as it was this big brown thing. Mrs. Jane made me a really great bonnet to go with it and, coming in clutch, her husband Jim made me way better “tools” to use for the face plucking and nail filing. What I had before were long and sharp. How literally none of us recognized the danger these things posed is beyond me, but Mrs. Jane saved the day and have Mr. Jim make me big sparkly props that were absolutely fantastic–and in two hours, no less. I kept them, and am quite fond of them. Their entire family really means a lot to me, making sure I’m taken care of and informed, even walking me to my car after late shows since they know I’m alone. Little things that add up to a whole lot.

While I’m quite proud of the dancers as a whole, for their various personal triumphs and accomplishments, there’s two in particular I want to write about.

There were two sets of Step-sisters, the Saturday night set being a set of our Principal dancers, and the Sunday set being two of our soloists.

Jessica, in the green dress (the one I wigged up,) is a fellow adult ballerina, though she didn’t begin as an adult. She’s built her way up and when she and her husband moved to Corpus, she joined us here at CCB. I first met her last year when I wore a University of Kansas jacket and she came up and said, “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk?” and I excitedly exclaimed, “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!” We’ve been friends ever since.

Last year I watched as she danced roles with some of the high school girls, having the best attitude and outlook on it all, lighting up the stage with her presence. I can’t even remember what her Nutcracker roles were, as some of the high school girls were no doubt cast above her, but when the cast list came out for Cinderella, I saw her name as a step sister and said, “oh, PERFECT.” Because it is. Casting Jessica as a step sister is absolutely perfect, which was only further confirmed with each rehearsal. The comedy she brought to the role often had me forgetting to go back to the office when I popped into the studio for something or another, instead being drawn in by her performance. So often in ballet, beautiful and talented dancers can end up overlooked for one reason or another, usually nothing personal though it can feel deeply as such, and seeing that happen can be really disheartening, let alone feeling it. But seeing Jessica completely nail this role so perfectly was extremely rewarding. She and Kaelin played off each other so well and you could tell they were having so much fun.

Speaking of Kaelin, she’s the other one I want to write about in this post. The step sister with the orange dress, she and I didn’t interact in our small scene, other than a quick glance in character, but watching her had me absolutely beaming with pride.

Kaelin was one of the little nuggets when I first started dancing at Munro. I remember waiting for my classes and peeking in through the window to watch their level II’s class when they first barely got their pointe shoes. She was a villager my first Spring show in Wizard of Oz and it was quickly evident what a delight she was (and is.) I watched as Kaelin looked up to the “big girls” as she danced, watched her recital dances through the years, watched her be called up as a back up understudy in my last role in which I was an understudy put in the very first rehearsal, watched her take on the roles I did, and watched as she surpassed my skillset. I watched her do Dew Drop on an injury, trying to find the tricky balance between enduring while risking further injury and taking a step back for recovery. Having the injury so close to shows, she endured, and thankfully the risk was worth it. And now I had the extreme honor of watching her take the challenge of such an advanced role, shared with one of our top Principal dancers, and completely rock it, making it look easy, even. I watched the little dancers watch her, one of the “big girls,” and see how their faces glow as she acknowledges them, some of them her students, others not. I heard their whispers of how cool they think she is and saw them trying to do the moves she did in the aisles.

When you have a young group of dancers, you have thoughts about what these kids could grow to be. You see their skills and drive, or lack thereof, and can sometimes guess which ones will continue on and which ones won’t. Kaelin has always had the drive, and she’s honed her skills over the years by paying attention and making the most of every opportunity. She’s not a kid anyone would have expected to just be handed these things, but worked her way up through the ranks, a normal dancer who had the endurance and self discipline to keep going, and now she gets to reap the rewards of her hard work. It’s been an absolute joy watching her as a step sister, and also seeing her as the Fairy Godmother during school shows, and even stepping up to cover Lead Star when Haeleigh hurt her foot the week of shows while working on recital in class. (:( my heart is sad for Haeleigh.) She has risen to the occasion and I couldn’t be more proud.

There’s loads of dancers I’m proud of who have taken great responsibility and really risen up this show, and some who have endured some really difficult things, dancing while their heart is breaking. I wish I could do more to reward them for their efforts.

After school show, we brought back a school whose teacher used to dance with us. It was so much fun seeing their reactions to the costumes and backdrops and props up close, and even more fun seeing Chrisi, our Cinderella that show who also knew Holly, the teacher, talk the kids through what it takes to make a production happen. Their eyes filled with wonder and Chrisi’s gentle instruction was a joy to behold, some of our dancers even being entranced by her explaining how she prepares her shoes to dance. The whole scene was so magical and heartwarming.

On Sunday, we had a big thunderstorm roll through, causing some localized flooding and the power to flicker before shows started. We were all on pins and needles, unsure of what might actually happen during the show and hoping against all hope the power would stay on and the audience would still show up. Thankfully, we didn’t have the orchestra, as the basement definitely flooded, and the power stayed on past the one flicker about an hour before curtain.

On Saturday, one of my favorite stories I’ll tell forever occurred.

James, who was our Step Mother, had his dressing room on the same floor as the stage. Around the corner, in fact. Somehow, the lock engaged on the handle, making him unable to get inside his dressing room after the ball scene to change back into his regular dress. We asked security if they could get someone to unlock it. They tracked down the lady with the keys and she came to unlock it, but didn’t have the correct keys. I asked James what he would do, and he had me hook his dress back up and said, “I’ll just make it work” in such a calm and composed manner. A true professional. I told him I’d wait for her to come back and bring his dress over. His cue, of course, was on the other side of the stage, and I had absolutely zero clue when he went back on, but tried not to worry about it. The lady got back and, about four or five tries later, got the right key and opened it. I thanked her, grabbed the dress, and looked around for anything else, spotting his wig/headpiece combo and grabbing it as well. Then, I ran, waving the wig so he’d see me coming, trying not to clomp backstage as I was in my character shoes. Tim, a hairdresser who was also the Head Wig Maker in the production (among other things) got his dress unhooked. James stepped into the costume, I shoved in his petticoat as Tim started working on switching out the wigs and headpieces. I got James’s skirt hooked and tried to start on the dress, my hands shaking, when someone behind me said, “start at the top!” And thankfully they did, my brain spaced and I hadn’t even thought of that. I told James I would keep going until his cue. Joe, our stage manager, came over with a flashlight and I went as fast as I could, taking about two tries on each of these bajillion hooks and eyes, feeling more hopeful with each one. As I got the last one fastened, I let James know I was done, and literally without a second to spare, he walked on in perfect timing for his cue. I looked at Tim, and said something like, “did we just pull that off?” then doubled over as the adrenaline coursed through my body.

I couldn’t recreate that if I tried. Had I stopped long enough to doubt or wonder if I’d have enough time, had I not ran, had she not had the right keys the second time, had I forgotten the headpiece–any of it and I’m sure loads more–it wouldn’t have worked, yet James sauntered on as if nothing happened out of the ordinary and the audience was none the wiser.

I have no doubt had James gone on in his ball dress he would have made it work, but I’m glad we were able to pull it off.

…and I just answered the phone at my courthouse job as “Corpus Christi Ballet,” so on that note, I’m gonna leave you with pictures and sign off. Please note, we got a good laugh at my mix-up.


behind the scenes magic

I intended to write this post last month, but after 3.5 years of avoiding it covid hit me. I did better than I expected with it, for which i’m incredibly grateful and recognize my privilege in that. I think the avoidance for so long helped me personally so it was more mutated by the time I actually got it, but I know for some people that doesn’t matter. what a difficult time to live in and navigate.

In the in between of Nutcracker and auditions for Spring Show, I didn’t see many people, but a few people came by for various things. One raffle prize winner has a granddaughter that dances with us. When she arrived to pick up her prize, we got into conversation about the productions and the discipline that goes into it as well as the magic. I asked if she had ever been in the studio, she said only to drop her granddaughter off. I offered her a tour which she gladly accepted.

From the foyer of our studio, you walk through a costume room with tutus and character dresses and rat heads hanging from the ceiling and carefully stacked. Many times the dancers walk passed it without a second thought, used to the sight of of the stacks of fabric they pass by week after week, some pausing to comment on what animal they were as 7 year olds or the seemingly endless years of villager roles, but most rushing past to the studio without a second thought.

This lady gasped; she was in complete awe of the vastness of it. I pointed out a few costumes from recent ballets, talked about the fire we had in the 1990s and showed some of the costumes that survived that we still use and which ones we got from Louisville Ballet after that have held up so well over the last 30 years of constant use with who knows how many years of use before that.

From there I walked her through the break room and showed her the studio. A room we are so familiar with its easy to forget how impressive it is. A converted warehouse, there’s a weight-bearing support structure in the middle of the front of the floor, one each dancer is all too familiar with avoiding while rehearsing and having to adjust to its absence when we’re on stage.

There’s a wall of thick cubed windows, made in a way you can’t see through them but allow a beautiful amount of natural light to come in, and a back wall of mirrors with curtains pulled back and tucked behind the barres when not in use. The lady was so impressed, speaking to how awe inspiring it was to see the place where we work in the lead up to performances. We talked about the process and how things translate from there to stage, seeing the light in her eyes bringing a smile to my face.

It truly is magic.

It’s easy to forget when it’s something you’re so closely involved in, something you’re so used to dedicating so much of your time to, something you experience so often. If we allow ourselves to take a step back and notice the magic flowing all around us, remember the first time we were involved, remember how we felt the first time we put on a tutu, remember our excitement with goals we achieved—remember the magic—we can bring a little bit of that with us and translate it onto the stage. Sometimes we need to take a step back and realize how incredibly lucky and privileged we are to be involved in something like this at all, and for us specifically at our studio to be under the tutelage of such a legendary teacher.

Of course, there will be downs along with the ups, and there is cause to feel and process the not-so-magical parts of this world. There’s disappointment and difficulty and long, long days. There are things completely out of our control and things that feel personal but aren’t, some I remember all too well (aye swifties) from my own experiences. However, the conclusion I came to is I dance for me. Ballet is what I make it. For some people, that includes a change of some form, a move, an adjustment, a program elsewhere than their home studio, a shake up in their routine. For others, it’s a mentality shift, a step back, a perspective change.

What you bring to ballet is your legacy to it. And if you bring your best, if you work hard, if you do it for you, that’s a beautiful legacy to leave, and you should be proud of yourself on that.

Today as I go back to the studio for rehearsals, sitting at my desk in the office and flitting back and forth from the studio for various tasks, i’ll choose to remember the magic, to hold the memories of the days when my body let me move freely close, and appreciate the privilege it is to have involvement still even with my limitations.

Snow White. 

I never used to talk about being sick. I kinda forgot how much I never talked about it until recently. Granted, I didn’t used to know as much as I know now, even though I feel like I’m still so very much in the dark about so much of what is causing all of this.

Since it’s been so many years now, I’m starting to see patterns with it, and able to understand and relay what’s happening better than before. I’m also starting to get more used to dealing with doctors and making appointments and figuring out insurance, even though I still get really nervous and a bit anxious when having to do it, and sometimes it still brings me to tears.

Why am I saying all this in a blog post that’s supposed to be about the shows and theater week and magic and excitement? I’ll get to that, I promise. But I’m gonna let y’all in on a secret I have yet to talk about here, though a few of my close friends know, and I disclosed it to some of my friends throughout shows this weekend.

Saturdays show in Beeville will be my last show.

Not just of Snow White, but, like, ever.

My dance teacher tells me to never say never. And it’s true. Who knows, I could end being in a show in some way, shape, or form. But as far as auditioning for a role, it seems my days are done.

I started realizing it during nutcracker, especially when I kept struggling with Snow. It wasn’t something I should have had that much difficulty with. I knew I could be better, so why wasn’t I being better?

We had auditions for Snow White earlier, so I was already committed to the show before I fully realized that I didn’t think this was something I’d come back from. It was way before I saw a specialist, and not long after the initial bloodwork testing. My body just isn’t keeping up. My muscles get weak far faster than they should. My body takes longer to recover from long rehearsals and shows. Add on the intensity at work and just life in general–it has been a rough start to the year.

I had hoped to post this blog post far earlier than I am, but I found myself in a sort of sense of grief after this weekend ended. We still have the one show Saturday, even, but it didn’t matter. I felt it. The reality that dancing at the local theater is over hit me, and it took me a bit to come back from. Thankfully, going to class yesterday helped, as did hearing from wonderful friends and basking in the memories of this weekend.

Let’s get into those memories, shall we?

Going into theater week, I found myself quite nervous. The last few weekends of rehearsals proved to take quite a toll on me, and I wasn’t sure how I’d do having long rehearsals every night after long days at work, not to mention over time to try and get everything done by our deadline on Friday. So much happening at once, I couldn’t let myself think about it in the slightest, because then I would start to feel it, and if I were to feel it I may fall apart, and I didn’t have time for that.

They ended up going really well, and it was so much fun to be around my friends so much. Rehearsals had me hopeful that maybe everything would be okay. That maybe shows happened to fall on a good weekend healthwise and it would be best case scenario, considering.

I was able to go to a sleepover at a friends house before the school show, even though I couldn’t go to the school show because of work. I was able to watch their rehearsal for school show, which made my heart swell seeing them do so well with this role we’ve worked so hard on. Especially Emma, who was the cover for the role and was doing my part since I’d be at work. She’d covered for so many other people that weren’t me, and in finale mine was different than every they girl since I was in line with the dwarves instead of with a fellow Hoffraulein (lady in waiting.) But she nailed it. She did so well, I was beaming with pride as if she were my own daughter or little sister or something.

It was so cool to see the dance from the audience, and I was hit with this surreal feeling. So often I was the spectator; I was in the audience watching, wishing I could be part of the show, dancing on stage and creating this image that made the audience feel things. But this time, i felt that sense of longing, only to remember that Emma was wearing a dress that was also mine. It had my name in it, too. I knew the choreography. I would get to dance that very dance I just watched twice this weekend and yet again next weekend. This was my reality.

The sleepover was a blast, being with my friends and laughing and carrying on. They were awake before I left for work, so that was nice too. I was so sad to miss school show, but so glad that it gave Emma an opportunity to do the dance. It’s such a rewarding feeling to be a cover and get to actually do the dance you’ve worked so hard on, not knowing if you’d ever get that chance.

Thursdays rehearsal went well, even though two girls in the hoffraulein dance had unexpected family emergencies and weren’t there. Our director pulled me, the cover, and another girl aside to let us know what was happening. She gave Emma the choice of if she wanted to be me, the role she’d be dancing for school show, or someone else that was missing. She was me, so I tried to be one of the missing girls, and the other girl was told to have her mom record be dance and learn it that night, just in case. I ended up messing up the placement of the girl I was covering, which was probably more harm than help, but it was hilarious. At one point I just didn’t come back on stage so I could stay out of the way, instead standing in the wings, laughing at how much I hosed it up. What fun memories 😂

Friday nights rehearsal went really well, though by this time we were all pretty tired. Our director decided to cancel our Saturday rehearsal before show, causing a good amount of the dancers to cry out of sheer joy. I was actually able to sleep in on Saturday. I honestly can’t remember the last time that’s happened.

I left my house early to meet up with a friend before warm up, where we stuffed Easter eggs to hide around the dressing room. Not that there are really any hiding places, but the girls got a kick out of it anyway. There were even three golden eggs, although no one found the one I had set out Saturday, so we did it again Sunday and added two more. They were finally found 😂 it was silly and fun.

I was pretty nervous for Saturdays show. It was very surreal that it was finally here and happening. I had to keep reminding myself to make sure I enjoyed it, to soak it all in because it would be over in mere moments. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. Only left in my memories. This show seemed to be plagued by drama, frustration, and set backs, but the choice was up to each of us on if we’d let it dictate our experience, or if we’d choose to see past it and create memories we don’t cringe to look back on. I was also a bit unsure what my body would do, since during one of the rehearsals on Wednesday I almost couldn’t get up out of a kneel. My left quad locked and wouldn’t release to let me stand up. It was the weirdest sensation. Thankfully, that didn’t happen Saturday, though I did mess up a part in Weiss Frauen that involved some kneeling, but I don’t think it was all that noticeable, and I struggled in Hoffraulein with a part i struggled with in the downtown studio since we have a giant pole in the middle of the studio space downstage. But it could have been worse.

Overall, I was very glad with the performance, screw ups and all. It was way better than I expected myself to be able to do. Definitely a best case scenario type of thing. Two weeks before show, we had a long rehearsal that left me feeling so bad I couldn’t make it through rehearsal the next day. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do any better than that day, so I approached one of our directors and told her that was about the best I could do. I felt like it was way sub-par, and that everyone watching was silently judging me. That I stuck out as the least amongst my peers and shouldn’t really be doing the role. I asked her if what I was capable was enough or if I should give it to the cover, who is incredible. She told me she hadn’t even noticed I messed up at all, that I was really good about blending in with everyone else around me and that I definitely didn’t look sub-par. This really helped me to get out of my head, since I know this dance is a bit of a reach for me as it is, involved choreography that has all the elements I struggle with, and my body was working against me. She helped me see that even though I know all these things are happening, people can’t see it just by looking at me. Unless I really screw up huge or can’t get up or something, it all largely goes unnoticed. This also helped take a lot of the pressure off, so I tried to focus on what I could change and improve upon with the time I had left rather than the things I had to leave to chance.

My parents came to see me as well, knowing it would be my last show. It meant a lot to me that they were there and able to see it.

Sunday I did my best to really soak it all in. I took ridiculous pictures and videos at warm up, just to try and freeze these moments in time so I never forget them. Same with backstage.

There was a moment in each dance that really struck me. Moments where I realized where I was, what I was doing, and what it meant.

The first happened in our Weiss Frauen dance. There’s this part where we kneel in lines, reminiscent of Swan Lake, while Snow White and her mother, the Weiss Queen, dance. I was in the back corner, essentially, giving me a great perspective of what was happening, and it hit me. Here I was, on this stage, in this costume. I’m doing the thing that years ago I only dreamt of. The thing I longed to do for so much of my life. The thing that scared me to my core but I wanted so much I faced that fear anyway. The thing I began merely 5.5 years ago, and here I am. I’m on stage, in pointe shoes, surrounded by some of my very favorite people in the entire world. It hit me like a wave crashing over me, saturating every inch of my being. I was so very much there in that moment; more than I probably have ever been anywhere in my entire life.

This. This is why I fight through every day. This is what I work so hard for in every class. This is what I push through all the pain and crap and fear for. This is why I keep showing up even when my body is exhausted. This. This is all the things. This is everything I ever could have hoped or dreamed for. This is my reality. These are my memories I’m making. These are the stories I tell and in front of me are the people in it.

All this happened in about two minutes, before we were up and moving again. For a moment I completely forgot I was supposed to be thinking about the next step, as it was a hard one for me. I completely forgot that i was on stage and people were staring at us under the stage lights. I was entirely lost in the moment. A moment I can visit in my mind for years to come.

The second happened for hoffraulein beginning with the rehearsal I got to watch and continuing through to the performances. Realizing that I was that person I had just gotten to watch. That I was the one in the dress and shoes, actually able to do dance moves that I used to struggle with so much. I remembered my first pointe classes when 10 minutes felt like agony and my friend McKenna was there telling me if I kept working hard she promised it would get easier. I remembered my first performance en pointe on this very stage and the struggle it was which is laughable now. I remembered how far I’d come in such a short amount of time, and the people who helped me get there. I thought of some of those very people being in the audience, seeing me dance. I realized that I was there, doing the thing I once only dreamed and hoped I’d be able to one day do. Hoffraulein was the accomplishment to my ballet dreams–to be in the most advanced ballet dance. To belong there, and not just be there out of pity.

I was there. I belonged. I was wanted there. I mattered.

It wasn’t just a dream anymore. My dream became my reality.

People have told me all along that I was ridiculous. That I was chasing a childish fantasy long past my time of achieving it. I tried anyway. As I went along, I found that my body isn’t normal and has a lot of things wrong with it. I tried anyway. I found myself having to sit out more than I ever wanted to and having to give my teacher such ridiculous lists of ailments that even I struggled to believe them even though I was feeling them. I kept going anyway.

It’s a weird feeling, when dreams become reality and then on to memory. It makes me feel all the feels. And they’re wonderful feels. I realized I didn’t have any pictures of me dancing these roles–these final roles–but it didn’t way heavily on me like something of regret. I knew my memory wouldn’t let me soon forget.

These last few months have proven to be some of the most difficult I’ve ever had to endure in my entire life. No dramatization there at all. Some days just waking up in the morning was such a huge victory, let alone trying to get through the day. Not to mention all the responsibilities I have on me currently. To say there were some hard days is the understatement of the century. Even days when I had to call in to teaching and taking class. But you know what I found?

I had multiple people texting me to make sure I was okay since they didn’t see me. Updating me on my class since I wasn’t there to teach it. These sweet girls I dance with and moms of dancers at the studio checking in on me even though I’ve missed plenty of other days before. Almost as if they knew I needed the reassurance, but no one had told them. Messaging me to let me know how the kids did not even knowing the anxiety it had given me to have to not be there with them. Knowing they were okay and which ones remembered the dance and being able to use it as a different perspective to know where we needed to go from there.

Even just thinking back on this brings tears to my eyes.

These people are my family.

This is where I belong.

This is what life is about.

You go along, doing what you can to make it through each day, hoping against all hope it’s enough. Then you hit rough days where you just want to crawl into a hole and stay there because the world is just too much, only to see that it’s all enough. That you’re doing something right.

I don’t think I could thank the girls I dance with enough. They have been everything to me. I wish I could express to each of them what they truly mean to me, but it’s impossible. There aren’t words.

But there are memories. Ones filled with such happiness and fulfillment that I know if I were to die tomorrow it would be with a full heart of a life well lived. I’d have no regrets. I am content.

This feeling spilled over after the show ended when I got to go out and see my friends and family. When I was asked by strangers for my autographs and pictures, when though I’m not a principal dancer, but realizing I was one of the advanced dancers. I reached that level. It continued on in taking pictures with fellows dance friends in costume, both on a high of a show well done, knowing we were sharing in an emotion that can’t be described, only felt. This feeling stays with me as moments of the weekend resound in my mind, guiding me through the days of my “normal” life, giving me hope that looking ahead isn’t scary, but rather something to be hopeful about.

Monday was rough as the finality of it all began to hit me. I received a text from a dear friend of mine, saying “I might have been a creeper.” Followed by pictures. Of me. On stage. The first one being this

Which happens to be the exact moment I was referring to when I felt all those things and realizations of where I was and what I was doing. When I was completely lost in the moment. I didn’t even realize she was there, let alone that close, and as I found this to be only the first of many pictures she took, my eyes filled with tears.

She made the impossible happen. Here are pictures of me on the stage in my last show.

I cherish this more than words can ever express.

There are so many more things I wish I could say. So many things I could have said has I blogged as I went, but honestly, the words that needed to be out were put out there. Everything else is trivial.

My last show (as far as I know) is one that I will truly cherish forever. One that I will love to tell about well into old age. One that I am beyond proud of.

I’ll still be taking classes and teaching as well, and hopefully helping out with shows. I already have plans to see Giselle next year with a dear friend of mine, making it so much better on my heart as I make this transition. It still blows my mind to think about all I’ve done.

Two of my most pivotal teachers were in the audience this weekend, which means more than they’ll ever know.

We still have one more show on Saturday out of town, of which I’ll try and post about as well.

Here’s some pictures from this past week and weekend. You’re welcome 😂

(They posted in reverse order. Some are blurry and in the wrong orientation. But, oh well 🙂 )

Take care. 

I skipped class tonight. 

It made me sad. Usually when I skip, it comes with a sense of relief. Not that I don’t want to be there, I do, but because it takes the weight of the expectation off. 

This time, it was torn two ways. The weight was lifted, but then my heart was saddened at the fact that I didn’t get that hour to let my mind be free of the demands and pressures of everything going on in my life. Sure, there are classes when I can get overwhelmed and it feels weighty, but I don’t think today was that. 

It’s hard to know when you need to take care of yourself. When to step back and let yourself heal in the places you need rather than try to push through it and hope things get better. 

Because that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been pushing through. Even when taking breaks here and there to try and help, I was still pushing through. Still grinning and bearing it. Still hoping that pushing through would bring the healing i needed doing this thing that I love so deeply. 

Ignoring the warning signs doesn’t bring healing. It leads to a public breakdown, embarrassment, sleepless nights, and lots of emotions all over the place. It leads to having farther to climb back up from this place you fell to. It leads to more vulnerability than you were hoping for. Even though I felt that I had no choice but to push through. That this is what is expected of me. That to slow down any more than I’ve already forced myself to would show weakness. It would tell people that I can’t do it. It would make these people feel like they were right in their opinions that I have spread myself to thin. I haven’t. I haven’t committed to anything more than I have done before, but for some reason my body isn’t keeping up this time. This is new to me. It’s not something I could have predicted. It’s something I hoped I could put off a little while longer. It’s something I’m trying to enjoy while I have it. 

So today, I came Home early, stayed in my house. I made a cup of my favorite tea in a new mug I love. I watched my friend I miss on her live video and then watched Covet Dance on their live video, seeing how they go through the process of picking their brand ambassadors, laughing and dreaming and feeling good about myself. I laid on the pallet I made on my floor in the middle of the storm last night to help calm my dog, then I re made my bed so my floor will be clear again. 

Take care. Whatever that means for you. Because if you don’t take the time to make sure that you’re okay, you’ll never be okay. If you don’t do it, no one will. Find the simple things that bring your soul peace and carve out time to enjoy them, even if it’s just for a moment. Give yourself time to breathe. Give yourself time to heal. Give yourself time to remember who you are, not who people tell you you are, not who people expect you to be. 

It’s not worth the risk of everything you’d lose if you don’t. 

Keep fighting. Keep pushing. Keep dreaming. Be patient with yourself. 

I’m doing a giveaway on my Instagram. To enter all you have to do is tag a friend in the post and tell them how they inspire you. My goal is to spread kindness. To say the words now that are in your heart before you don’t have the chance. To let people hear kind things that they may not know exist. To brighten people’s days with words. My hope is that it brings friends closer together and helps hearts begin to heal and beat stronger. 

Take care, my friends. Of those you love and of yourself. 

Interim classes.

Yesterday started off as one of those rough days. It was a struggle, and all I could think of was that at the end of the day, I got to dance.
I didn’t so much care that it was in a studio or in a class, I just wanted an empty space and music to move to.

Matthew taught class, which is always exciting. I love how he’ll explain the details of things, and bring visual explanations of proper alignment, etc, to help us fully understand where we are and if it’s where we need to be.

The class was pretty full, with a decently mixed array of people. One of my favorite moments was definitely when Matthew was explaining how it’s good for your muscles if the room isn’t too cold. “Unless it’s so hot you pass out. That’s not very good for your health.” We laughed pretty hard about that one.

A friend of mine from my old studio came to class–her first in two years. It was so great to see her, and even more wonderful getting to dance with her again.
It was cool, too, dancing beside her now. She was there when I first started, being one of the advanced dancers that I looked to and one day wanted to be like, to dance like. And now, here we were, side by side at the barre, and I saw that she was no longer just my superior, but more or less my equal. Though now I also see that in this endeavor to better ourselves in this art form as adults, there really isn’t one more superior than the other. There really isn’t equals. We’re all here for the same reason–we dance to feel alive. As long as we keep striving for that, then we are successful, wherever we may be in skill and technique. (Keep in mind, we also aren’t trying to make a career out of this. Adult recreational dancing is something else entirely. Anyway.) Paige and I were talking before class, catching up since we saw each other last, and she asked about dance and made a comment, “You’ve gotten good now!” These side comments really mean a lot to me, because she saw me at my worst, at my beginning. She was in those first classes of mine when I was no better than a baby deer. When everything I am as a dancer now was nothing more than hopes and dreams. Sometimes you forget that you aren’t still in those baby deer days. You’re still you. But if you dedicate time to anything, it’s bound to improve. You can’t forget where you came from, but you can’t ignore progress either. You may not be where you want to be, but you sure aren’t where you started.

I managed to hold my balances in passe and coupe at the barre longer than I usually do, which was a pretty exciting accomplishment. I struggle trying to hold myself steady as I’m still trying to navigate proper alignment with two slight curves in my back and uneven hips. I know it’s not impossible, it’s just something to figure out how to work with it. People fight worse and still have careers, I can find a way to make this work dancing for funsies. My turns and most of center was far from par, but that’s okay. I tried and I learned and I know it’s something I can do on most days. I’m not worried.

Summer classes are still my favorite. I’m a bit nervous for Fall classes to start, mainly because the flow will be so different for me this year, and responsibility is a thing. I’m excited to get to teach some babies, but still a little nervous. It will be good though, and I have good resources and people to help me should I need advice.

I want to hopefully try my shoes before next class to see if I can get them situated to where the toe pain isn’t excruciating.

I finally got my picture with Matthew, before he goes off to the great big world that is College.

Can’t believe I never got any during shows or recital. Ugh. I take pictures of everything but tend to forget important things.

We still have a few more weeks of summer. I’m trying to get everything done that I need to before I’m dancing on my days off and driving all over the countryside all the time again. (It’s about 80 miles round trip for me to dance and back, which I’ll be doing four days most weeks and five+ on others.)

Limit yourself. 

I deal with perpetual depression and anxiety. 

Now that that is out of the way. 

I woke up this morning pretty panicky. For no good reason, but I couldn’t shake it. All I wanted to do was dance, but deep down I was nervous that dance might make it worse. (Probably me jumping to worst case scenario there. Typical.) I tried to go into the class day with an open mind and giving myself room for faults. 

Ballet went fairly well. I was able to hold a few balances I usually suck at and do the fouetté prep at the barre I used to really do terribly. We got to center and I still struggled a bit with balancing but was able to see little bits of improvement here and there. Overall, it wasn’t bad. I appreciated that she gave us combinations that were easy on the brain but still challenging our bodies. I think that helped make it better. 

Jazz-but-really-lyrical class went fine. Not all the girls were there so we still haven’t changed it up to the final way we’re gonna have it yet, but the new girls that have added on are doing well. They retain the choreography, which is super great. Ms Heidi said she might pull me and either Savanna or Valerie to be another duo, or separate singles–she’s still playing with ideas–and one of them sort of play off Ileana. 

As we were standing there while she was figuring out a part for another group, my mind began to wander as it does. I was watching Ileana and wondering what I would do if I was having to sort of mirror her. 

And it hit me. 

This terrible wave of whatever you want to call it that I hadn’t felt in a good long while. 

I thought of being in the audience, watching this piece, it being she and me, and thinking, “that one girl is so good and absolutely gorgeous. Shame they paired her with the bigger girl, she’s not as good I kinda feel bad.” 

It’s a dialog I’m sure I’ve heard said of someone on a stage once somewhere. And it’s probably part of the subconscious that stuck in my head growing up and lead me to make decisions I made that lead me to stop eating until I was really thin because I was terrified I would be that person. The “bigger girl” that was seen as a terrible thing. As lesser. As not enough. 

And I realized that I would be that should Ileana and I be paired.

And I realized that there are bits in Julie’s recital piece that I am that. 

And I realized that at some point my perspective had changed from that negative way of thinking to one of what-can-I-achieve-if-I-work-hard. 

But still I found myself standing there tonight with a different kind of panic. What would I do? I can’t lose any more weight than I have. I’m doing my best to improve with the hand life dealt me. How can I not be “that girl” ?

I told myself I couldn’t think that way. Tried to push it out of my mind. 

Mere minutes later, the newest new girl and I were learning a bit we had just been shown. I didn’t really know what I was doing but was trying to decode the struggle, so to speak, and she looked at me and said, “man you’re really good. Like, you’re so talented. I know I’m new and all, but I hope I can be as good as you.” 

In my head I said, “are you blind? Like. I can’t do anything she’s asking us to do. I’m trying not to panic because I know I can’t do a firebird or a leap in second. I’ve never tried them. I’m gonna look a hot mess, and if I can’t do it how am I gonna teach you to do it? I’m terrible. I’m new to this class and much of it is way over my head. Have you seen me? I’m not exactly the dancer type.” But instead I replied with, “thank you!” 

She didn’t have to say that. She could have kept it to herself. Sure, it’s safe to say the entire class is better than me in skill, but whose to say I’m not good in my own right? She didn’t see me as the “bigger girl in the class full of skinny, good girls.” She saw me as “talented.” 

*mind blows* 

I may still struggle. 

I may feel like I don’t really do anything right. 

I may feel like I’m just a 5 year old playing a giant game of pretend and all the adults just think “aww how cute” cause it’s cute when a 5 year old makes a fool of themself.  

I may feel like I keep missing out on roles and parts and accomplishments because I must just not be good enough. 

I may feel like I don’t have enough time to get to “enough.” 

But to her, I was enough. I was the “goals.” I was talented. I was the one to be like. 
Who am I to limit myself with my own judgements?

Small Studio

I may have mentioned before, but on Tuesdays–now that I stay through both hours of the VI’s class–I noticed that the small studio was open while Julie had the advanced Jazz class in the big studio. I asked Ms. Munro if I could use it to work on things when no one was in it. She was all for it.
So yesterday, Adrienne and I utilized this opportunity last night to work on some things we had seen and also some things we had never truly been shown.
(I don’t really want too many people to do this, because then it could become some kind of class, and therefore require payment for using the studio space. But having someone there to work with is beneficial.)

It was beneficial, too, because Ms. Munro kept popping in and out of the studio to get to the back storage closet, so we were able to ask her questions about the different steps we were working on, and she wanted to see our progress.

We worked on a tombe, coupe, jete step that neither of us had been taught. (Annika and Jessica had worked with me on showing it to me at Feast of Sharing, but I didn’t really know it enough to do it in class when it was one of the things we worked on yesterday.) Ms. Munro explained what we should think about (it’s one of her favorite steps) and a few pointers on it and let us go to town.
While working on this, I realized how terrible my jete’s really are. But now that I know, I can make an effort to work towards getting them better. I think part of the issue is being afraid to plie on my longer leg, since I got so used to it piercing in pain. It has been improving, now that I stay away from grande plies and jumps (which sucks, but if it helps I’ll do it.) (And also, I do them in pieces, so that’s good) but it’s still ingrained in me to be afraid. I have to break through that, and take the pain as it comes but not expect it.

Adrienne helped me tremendously on my chaine turns. I never properly learned them, and have trouble with spotting. We got substantial progress on these (Ms. M popped in and helped a bit as well) so now I don’t look like a fool as much. Honestly, confidence is half the work. If you can go forward without second guessing, you’re more likely to be successful. Now that I know what it’s supposed to feel like, I feel like I can more confidently approach them. (I need to truly get the feel en pointe, though, cause we worked in flat shoes.)

Adrienne worked on really getting the hang of fouette turns. She really didn’t have a struggle–the girl’s a natural. She tried them and succeeded first try, and I was able to film it and show her how they looked. Now she just needs to get nit-picky like the rest. I’m really proud of her. She’s really grown so much since I first met her. It’s as though everything is clicking and she’s really nailing these things. I’m especially glad we got the opportunity to work together yesterday. It helps to have someone there who will compliment you when you need it, and critique you when you need it.
And really, we all need to take a moment to remember where we started and how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.
I may get critical of myself and see how far I have to go, but Adrienne pointed out to me how far I’ve come just since being at Munro’s. We always have farther to go, more to learn, but we can’t forget to remember the progress hard work has brought us through.

Keep working hard, and you’ll get there.

(Oh. and we were working on the 6’s recital yesterday. We had to change a bit of the placement, so I ended up in the front. I half-expected Julie to switch me with Jessica or Adrienne, who were next to me, but she didn’t. In turn, I also ended up in a group of four with Annika, Alex, and Sean. WHAT IS LIFE. so, I really need to work on my jete’s, because I have to do them after the two girls and I don’t want to look like a derp. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to get this opportunity. I’m really hoping I can rise to the expectations, and beyond grateful that she’s starting recital now so I can learn these things while I’m still here, before work takes over my life for a hot second.)

New semester

Classes have started back up for the new semester.
Our first class, the V’s class, was taught by Ms. Munro since our normal teacher wasn’t there.
I really liked this. I love a good Ms. M class.
She didn’t go easy on us, which was good. She corrected my arm placement, which I’ve now been trying to be conscious about. It also made me feel good to know I’m seen. That something subtle and slight is noticed and fixed. Now it’s my job to make sure she doesn’t have to correct it again.

We did pointe, which had a few elements that I normally would get nervous over or avoid. I was unable to do some of them, but not without trying first. Partially was because my shoes are nearing death, so I didn’t want to risk the rolled ankle before auditions. I didn’t walk away from it afraid of these steps, though, so that is a big step for me.
Also, when it came to doing pirouettes, I was actually able to get around. Ms. M wanted doubles, but I was very satisfied in my solid single for now. It can do with improvement, and I definitely need to spot my head more, and get a better plie, but it’s a vast improvement from what I am typically capable of. I will take it, and work harder to make it better.

I seemed to mess up many things that shouldn’t have been difficult, but I just brushed it off. No sense getting worked up over something I know that I can do. It’s whatever.

Ms. Heidi’s class felt really good. We started working with some ideas she’s playing with for recital, and I was excited to see what she’s got going. I was nervous, but I think it has a lot of potential. I wish it could just be the girls that were in class on Monday–the ones who are always there. The piece would look so clean that way. But I know that’s out of our control.
It felt good to let go and try new things. That’s my favorite; when I can let go and just dance. Not think about specifics or how technical it is or if I’m enough. Just dancing because I like to do it. And not being judged on how bad or good I am. I don’t have anyone to impress or anything to prove.

Yesterday’s VI’s class went fairly well, too. My stomach is doing it’s typical hating me ritual, which really puts a damper on things. I tried to push through anyway, and thankfully didn’t have to sit anything more out than I usually would because of my knees. And even so, I’m able to watch those things and mark them and try to sort them out in my head so if I ever do have to do them, I can at least have some grasp of it to be able to attempt.

We started working on recital, which is super exciting. It’s a bit of a stretch for me, as I typically screw up a lot in the beginning of things. But once I have it down, I nail it. So I did my best, wrote down what we learned, and plan to go over it until I have it on the right count and my lines look good.

(I am so excited to be in this piece.)

Instead of working in the small studio, I watched the Advanced Jazz class. It was really cool to get to see them work on something that isn’t so technical. The girls in that class have a lot of talent, some I never really noticed before. But gosh, is it evident now. It made me want to just take a million pictures and capture what I see.
It was cool as well to watch Julie as she came up with all of this. Seeing her mind process and these sections of the dance come to life. Watching a master at work.
I sat there, watching and thinking, “I wish I could do that.” And it was then that I realized, “This is exactly what I do with words.” Whether its words people ever see or not, it’s the same process. My grammar may not always be perfect and sometimes I really like run-on sentences, but the concept is the same.

Words are my dance.

"I know I don’t really know you, but…"

Yesterday was a weird day for me personally.
(Who am I kidding, its been a weird past few weeks.)
And part of me just wants to avoid everything, to be alone, to press the pause button and stay away from any human contact until the funk decides to pass.
This is, obviously, illogical and would also void me of learning some pretty valuable life lessons.
Sure, there is a time to take a break and put things on pause, but if you do that any time things get hard you miss out on opportunities to grow and become a better person, as well as little bits of light that lie just around the corner. You’d never have known they were there if you paused everything–if you avoided everything for a bit to catch your breath, you would have missed this breath of fresh air.

There’s a dance mom I’ve spoken to a few times; she lives out in our neck of the woods, has had similar health issues as me, knows who I’m talking about when I tell her about my doctor, etc. Her daughter is sort of new to our studio and they are friends with my beloved Rowland’s, so I automatically like them. Her daughter is a doll and they are really great people.
Yesterday was Julie’s VI’s ballet. It was a relatively smaller class than usual, but one of my favorites of hers to date. I stood at the barre by the mirror, which I’ve never done before. Matthew said I would hate it because of the tape, (I hate the tape) so I kept that in mind and tried to avoid it. But I actually found it beneficial when doing ronde de jambes. I was able to place it to where it was directly center so I knew when my foot was directly in front of and behind me. It helped me get the feel for it, and I could also hear the sound of it (so I’m not looking down) and know when I was where I needed to be and what wasn’t far enough or too far.
I was standing next to Jessica at the barre (my fellow Rat Queen) with Sean (Rat King) on the other side.
For some reason, this class felt good. It wasn’t overwhelming or leaving me anxious. It was a challenge, and I was determined to try. And not even in a huge, monumental way. I just told myself, “try your best, don’t quit early” and did it. My knee was largely cooperating which I think helped substantially, but I also think it was the combinations we were doing that were relatively easy on my knee as well.
Ironically, I was actually prone to messing up the combination, which is usually what I’m good at. But I tried everything she asked us to try. For some reason, my muscles were really sore when I woke up yesterday, which typically doesn’t happen, so I was already struggling in that department. I was also feeling pretty sick. (I had gotten sick a lot that night before and a bit that morning, but had it under control. It may have lead to me not eating enough for such exertion, but I did my best.)
(Helps that Julie is my age and gets it.)
She gave corrections to Jessica and to Sean. She may have told me something once, but I couldn’t really hear what she said and it was at the end of something.
I held balances longer than usual and really tried to get my attitude devant highter while maintaining turn out. (which was actually easier. So, hey, they aren’t lyin’!) That made me feel good about the class, too. That I was able to hold things in second, and get that attitude higher, and actually think to straighten my standing leg.
By the end of class, I was feeling pretty weak. I didn’t want to show it too much because I don’t want to be labeled as weak or incapable. I want to just push as much as I need to and then back off. I knew I was only there an hour, so I did all I could for that hour (having to do some releve on flat instead) and took a moment to breathe before I left to go home.
While I was breathing, there were a few dance mom’s in the foyer. The one turned to me and said, “I was watching you, in class.”
To which I responded, “oh, God.”
And she said, “You looked so good.”
I don’t know if I gave her a stank face or confused face or really what my face did or my reaction at all.
She continued, “I don’t know the terms for things, but you had your arm out like this, and it was perfectly timed to your leg extending out, and your head and everything. I don’t know what it’s called, but I do know what looks good and what draws me in during a performance, and you did that. You drew me in and you were beautiful.”
And meanwhile I’m sitting on my bench, in a state of shock that she was talking about me.
And I told her how one of my goals I wrote down for the year was to get my arms down. To look like Lauren, essentially. I want to figure out what it is that makes the difference she seems to have. I told her how at my old studio, my teacher always got onto me for my arms, and so I’ve been really working hard on them.
She told me again how impressed she was by me, and I sat there in that state of shock, and then thankfully remembered to thank her because in my head I was thinking, “But I wasn’t even actually trying this time…”
(I mean. I was in shock.)
I mentioned how I always wondered if I was doing it right. No one ever got onto me so I assumed it wasn’t wrong. Mrs. Jacie told me if I was wrong they’d definitely let me know. But I haven’t been complimented in class either to know it’s right. Which is probably a good thing. Because in VI’s, that level is what’s expected. So more often than not, you’ll just hear if you’re wrong. And this is good.

It’s not a compliment I often hear. And it’s not one really lounging around in my head.
To me, I’m just sub-par still. I have a ways to go. I’m improving, but still needing improvement. I’m not quite there with my fellow VI’s or even some V’s. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me and I shouldn’t get my hopes up because these classes are full of really great dancers so competition is fierce. How I’m an adult dancer, so I miss some of the things that are really taught as you rise up through the ranks and I’m left to figure it out on my own.
I am really in a good place to have resources to help me feel these gaps and people willing to help me, as well as dance friends and especially dance friends my age or older. I’m also in a great place where they are letting me take this advanced class to get the exposure.
To know that, in that advanced class, the one that’s really probably a little too much for me, someone I barely know noticed that I had the thing I want most in my heart to have when I dance… I can’t even explain.

I told her I was gonna blog about it.
Obviously, I was serious.

But really, it meant more than words could ever say.
Kindness is free, y’all.
I had a friend tell me once a few years ago that if you had a nice thought about someone, you should tell them. Doesn’t matter if you feel awkward about it, what would it hurt?
So now I make a point to give compliments, even if they’re awkward. Sometimes I lead with “This is an awkward compliment, but…” and they usually leave with a smile on their face.
Point being, you never know when its going to be exactly what the person needs to hear in that moment. The light to their darkness. The confirmation they have been hoping for.

Say it.

Also, I met my mystery comment-er yesterday!
I had received a comment on a blog this summer from someone who had found my blog and was taking the adult classes at the studio. I have no idea how she found it and had no clue who she was, but yesterday she introduced herself. Turns out, we both have a mutual love for the same London-based bag company and she noticed mine and complimented me on it. She hasn’t been able to take classes in the year since the adult classes start later, but I’m so glad she took in the summer and I really hope she does so again whenever they get earlier.
I’ve never had that happen before, and it was really cool.