Also

Ms. Munro spoke to me yesterday.
Asked me if I was okay. Asked how my knees were, mentioned how I never do jumps.
I explained why I didn’t do them in class, but how I still marked and learned and can do them if needed. How in such a fast paced environment I tend to forget the details I need to think about and hurt my knees. I explained how the right leg is longer, how my back is curved, and how I have the calcified whiplash. I told her in choreography, I’m fine, because I can think about it. I can work specifically on something and know how to avoid injury.

She told me I should be very proud of how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. She asked how long I’ve been en pointe, and said that these other girls have just been on longer.
She asked me to pointe my foot, so I did, and she said I had really good arches, and I need to lift out of my shoe more. That I need to build the strength so I don’t sink.

I wish someone had told me this sooner.
I had heard whims of this, but never definite. It wasn’t anything concrete. I do stuff with the theraband, but I wish I had known to dedicate to this. That this is what they were looking for.

I can’t change the past, but I can move forward to the future.
I am still the cover, which means I still have a shot, even if it’s not the way I had hoped.
Even if it sucks.
Even if I feel like complete crap and a failure and like I must suck to get the roles I got, since I’m not even with my level.

I can’t change the past.
So I’m going to work like hell on what I now know to do. I’m going to press forward with fierce determination, and hope someone doesn’t show up enough and they actually follow through with replacing them. I’m going to show them I can do it. Because nothing would be worse than feeling all these things, getting to do the part, and finding that I can’t do it.

Tuesday’s after ballet will be dedicated to building strength.
I can’t let myself be afraid of my knee hurting, instead I must train it to go in the right direction.
I’m going to speak to teachers about how to better focus on gaining this strength, what to do with my shoes to help them last longer, and if I should start doing jumps in class or if it would do more damage than good. (I also don’t grande plie for this reason. My knees haven’t hurt since, even with choreography.) (I also don’t have to wear the brace any more.)

So if they can see the improvement in all my other efforts, I’m going to keep up with that til they see these.

Positives:

  • Ms. M complimented my musicality, asking if I played an instrument. I have not
  • She said I have come a very long way for the short amount of time I have been dancing
  • She said that I did really well in the Winkie Guard role last year and carried the other dancers, specifically with my ability to count and acting skills
  • She said I have really arched feet (I’m taking it as a compliment)

Swan Lake Casting

I’m not a swan.
I’m cast, but I’m not anything exciting or impressive.
I have many thoughts and feelings towards this, mostly of disappointment and confusion. But I’m trying to put those to the side for this post. (As “Fight Song” decides to come on my Pandora)
I’ll make the most of it, like I do every time. I am the cover for the swans, along with a few other girls, but there’s no guarantee anything will come of that.
I talked to Mrs. Alex about it after class. I asked her what I could have done better. She said it’s just a really intense show with a bunch of pointe work and they really struggled with casting. That my name was heavily debated and thought over. She said she knows nothing she says can really help.
I just want understanding, ya know?
I thought I had proved myself with Oz, and with Nutcracker this year. I thought my hard work in class was being seen. I thought the fact they asked me to come to VI’s meant they saw me. And she said they did. She said they see how much I’ve improved and how hard I work. I just don’t understand.

But it is what it is. What can we do about it now? Nothing.
Take my roles and do the best possible in them.
I’m struggling personally because I let myself get hopeful. I let myself believe my friends when they said I did well and I had it in the bag. Mrs. Alex even said I auditioned well, that she was impressed. She said she saw my en dedan turn when I did do it.
I just wasn’t enough.
And everyone tells me there’s always next time.
Except I don’t know if there is.
I mean, technically we never know. None of us. But really, I’m not getting any younger. There’s only so many things my body will let me do, and time isn’t kind. I’ll never see Swan Lake again in my dancing days.
Next year I’ll get Lilac and Snow, because it’s the next in line. It’s not a challenge. It’s not anything that will take more effort than is expected, or whatever.
I just don’t understand.

I honestly feel like I’m grieving. The loss of this role and this dream. The realization that I’ll realistically never reach some of the things I strive for, that my heart longs for.
Not everything is attainable, no matter how hard you work and try.
And you have to find a way to be okay with that.

Nutcracker Casting 2015

The day is upon us.
That fateful day when our Assistant Director walks in the door clutching the very thing dreams are made of.
It also happens to be the crusher of dreams.
For me, it’s just, “meh.”

(Okay, not meh but way less exciting than for the younger girls.)
(Or… so I thought.)

If you have been following along in my ballet story, you will know that there were certain roles that I was hoping for. These were goals I had set out to accomplish, hoping it would give me a leg up for Swan Lake, which is really what I want to accomplish.
I knew going into it that in the hierarchy that is Nutcracker, my next role in line would be Petit Fleur. After that, Lilac, and after that, Rose. Typically, if you’re a flower at all, you’re also snow. My goal was to pass up Petit Fleur–which is typically more posing than dancing–and go to Lilac. It was a stretch, but the summer felt promising and I was really improving. Ms. Munro has been watching me. I was allowed to take the VI’s class, which I wasn’t expecting but was very exciting.

The list goes up. I step to the back and let the girls see first. I hear squeals and everyone looks at Annika. She got Clara! We weren’t expecting that, since she’s so good, so I went forward to see who the Clara’s were. And it’s a fabulous group of them–really strong dancers that will impress this year. Annika, Lauren, Alyssa, and Maddison. I’m so beyond thrilled for these girls. I feel some of them may have felt they missed their shot last year when the age range for Clara’s went down so much, but this year it’s their time to shine, and shine they will.

I glanced at the Lilacs. I glanced at the Lilacs continued page.
My name wasn’t there.
I looked at Petit Fleur.
Bingo.

My heart sank a little bit.
I think I knew deep down I wouldn’t get to skip up, but it was given hope when in Oz I was doing the same roles as one of the girls that level above me, and doing them well, and then also when I was allowed into VI’s. Not to mention, everyone telling me I could totally do it. I was sad, but I tried not to show it. I stepped back and waited to look where everyone else ended up.
Emerson came back to me and said she was Petit Fleur and Snow. I was glad to know at least I’m with my girls again. They really make it fun. I asked if she saw my name for Snow, and she said she didn’t.
Wait, what? Usually when you’re one, you’re both? I asked one of the other girls from my class, and she was also both. Why am I not both? I can totally do both. What gives?
Whatever. I’ll look at the list when people file out a bit more. Maybe she just didn’t see it. It’s no big deal. I’ll have fun regardless.
At this point, I’m not like, freaking out or anything. I’m not upset or mad or whatever. Just kinda there.
I’m watching all the other girls find out their roles and watching their reactions, which is a welcomed distraction in my waiting.
Then Annika comes up to me and says, “Emilee! You’re Rat Queen!”
WHAT.
I just looked at her. I asked, “Are you sure?” and she said, “I mean, pretty sure!”

I find my way to the board and try to find where Rat Queen is listed.
Sure enough, there’s my name.
Sharing with Jessica, one of the best dancers in the studio.
(And also someone that has been really inspiring for me. Her work ethic is insane, and I’ve gotten to watch the results that come from it. It gives me the motivation to work hard, knowing it’ll happen for me too in time. I really appreciate having her in class.)
So then I’m freaking out.
That’s why I’m not Snow. I’m freakin’ Rat Queen!!
I remember last year hearing someone complain about being this role. (why do people always complain about the roles I am?) And I remember sitting in the seats and hearing her and thinking, “Give it to me, if you don’t want it. This role is awesome!”
It’s an absolute blast.
You have on the giant rat head, and get to be super sassy, and interact with the Rat King and Nutcracker and the other rats and rat princesses and mice and stuff.
Did I mention I get to be sassy?
I’m really excited to get to be sassy.

The more that this set in, the more I was really pleased with my casting.
Especially with what the doctor had told me earlier that day:
We got into discussion about my knees hurting. I told her the whole happenings with the chiropractor and my back and my legs being uneven and showed her the xrays and she asked me questions about it and I answered them. I told her how they told me 3 1/2 years ago that I had arthritis and sent me for physical therapy. She asked if they mentioned my leg being longer then, and I told her no.
She examines my knee. Asked if this and that hurt, which it didn’t. She poked here and there, and again no pain. She asked where the pain was, and I told her it shoots under the knee cap. It typically doesn’t hurt when it’s at rest, but with use and during class when I plie a lot. She looks at the right knee and pokes this one part. “You can see the right knee is swollen. See this? That’s fluid.”
Oh.
So it’s not arthritis, I have fluid on my knee.
She wants to get an MRI and look into it more. I’m glad she is so invested in me and interested in all of the issues instead of just surface or what I tell her. She investigates, and she cares that I get better.

So, no. I’m not Lilac. I’m not even Snow. But the roles I have will be really good for my knee (Even though Petit Fluer is a lot of kneeling) and will help, I think.
And that doesn’t mean that I’m out of the running for Swan Lake.
I’m also not guaranteed. And I think my knee will be a big deciding factor.
I asked Mrs. Alex if she thought it would be more the older girls or if I had a shot, and she said it’s very uncertain right now.
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I’ll work my hardest, do my best, and take it as it comes. If it doesn’t happen, I just have to accept it. This can be difficult as my entire life seems to have been  a constant battle of barely missing the mark and having to be happy for my friends as I watch them enjoy what I can’t have–for whatever reason. There’s been times it’s been wrongful exclusion from politics. This isn’t that. But it’s still rough. I felt it last year, I feel it now, but it’s okay. Now I just take a moment I need to grieve the fact I missed the mark, then I pull myself up and get over it, working my hardest to be the best I can. I also try and make the most of the situation.
What people don’t realize is that I’m so inclusive because I’ve known exclusion my whole life. And the times someone included me was a game changer. People think I must have such a wonderful and perfect history since I’m so nice and kind or whatever, but really it’s the opposite. I’ve known great loss and pain and injustice, so I do the best I can to help others through it. I try to be what I wish I would have had.
There are times when it’s just a lesson the person needs to learn, and that’s fine. But when I can lessen the blow, I try my best to do so. I’m also human and imperfect and will still miss the mark, but I’ll give my best effort in what I know and take the lessons as chances to learn and grow.
(I’m not snow, so no snow secret santa for me. But I’m trying to scheme up ways I can still have fun and make someones day in secret. Hehehe)

TL;DR
I’m really excited to be with my girls in Petit Fluer, and really super excited about Rat Queen.
I told my parents, and they were really excited that I get to use my drama skills with this. Like, Dad legitimately sounded excited.
(I really want to prance around in the costume.)
(PLUS I get to hang out with the kids!)
(and this means I’ll be able to take pictures of snow again!)
(really I can’t lose, y’all.)

SPEAKING OF PICTURES

I stole this from Adrienne’s snapchat. She’s a Maid and we’re pumped about it!

(stolen again)

(and stolen from Annika)

(fun fact, at first I had an excited face when she came up to me with her phone, but she said, “Look dead.” so this came of it.)

(perfect.)

(annika again)

The girls waiting anxiously

It’s blurry but YO HOME GIRL IS RAT QUEEN

And look! they spell it correctly!

So yes.
And I’m really freakin’ excited for Annika. She’s Clara, then also Russian and Spanish on nights she’s not Clara. So it’s new roles for her and really exciting. Plus, I just feel so proud. Like, here’s my baby Shrub, and she’s mine. And we’re from the same studio, and we came here and newbs, and now look at her. And she’s Clara. Two years ago, Nutcracker wasn’t even a thought. And now she’s doing this and all these people are so happy for her and celebrating her and I know how incredibly happy this makes her and it makes me happy. Because she’s so talented and it’s being utilized and she just keeps rising and my heart can’t take all the love! I fear I may burst!

Happy days 🙂

OH!!!!!
And Abarrane is a Mirliton!!!
She wanted this role so badly, and she was feeling pretty crappy at auditions but still managed to rock it anyway. And she got the role and my heart absolutely burst when I heard/saw. I’m so proud of her. She’s worked so hard and proven herself and overcome insurmountable odds to do so. I really hope she’s in class today so I can hug her.