Retrospect

Yesterday, a friend I’ve known since Instep made a comment.
She said she was talking to a girl who was part of her dance group at the local university (I took pictures of them back when they were still in school) around Nutcracker and how impressed she was when she told her I was the Rat Queen.
You see, these girls knew me when I was first starting out.
They were in those classes where everything was hard and I was struggling.
To hear that she saw the improvement and was impressed, and even proud, made me feel so good.

I was looking at my blog today, and saw how they auto-filter spam comments, so decided to look through and see if anything exciting showed up.
Turns out I had a new comment from a post in September that I had somehow missed.

And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
I went back to the post and re-read it. Of course, it was the one where I really stopped to remember how far I had come in the last four years. As much as I hate to accept that this is only as far as I am, I can’t let myself believe that this is nothing.
I was really quite terrible in the beginning, but I kept working on it, and never gave up even when I really wanted to. Something in me wouldn’t let me throw in the towel.

And here I am, finding myself in one of those situations again where throwing in the towel seems easier–less embarrassing.

I couldn’t let myself if I tried.

Even with the thought of “I should just quit,” there is a fear in the back of my mind of the day that will inevitably come when I have to hang up my pointe shoes and stop dancing. I don’t want that day to come. I don’t want to just work and go home. I don’t want to ever not have a studio to go to.
I don’t want to stop dancing.

When favor falls on the opposite side of my fence, and when the bar is just a bit too far from my reach, I have to keep myself going. I’m more than a role or a label or a certain level.

I dance for me.

And really, thank you, dear readers, for your comments of encouragement. They do more for me than I could ever express.

Since I couldn’t find the first picture, here’s a side-by-side of my attitude in September 2014 versus July 2015.

"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.