Kids say the darndest things

Last week I began my new job at our local courthouse. It’s part time and I’m doing really simple paperwork type stuff, which is perfect for me since I can’t do too much at once, need to pace myself, and haven’t worked full time in almost a year due to all this health junk.

This was a very exciting opportunity as it is very low key and in a very chill environment. My co workers are hilarious and kind, and my desk is decorated with Harry Potter stuff. It’s the perfect place, really.

I’ve been having to figure out how to make Wednesday’s first class work as it starts at 5:30, and I get off work at 5. I still work in town, but trying to get from downtown to the studio during rush hour traffic is a good time.

Still, my kids are freaking adorable and hilarious. On Friday, one of my absolute favorite kids, McKenna, came in with a giant smile on her face. She brought me a sheet of stickers from her very own collection and was so excited to give it to me. Her mom said, “she said in the car, “Mommy, Ms. Emilee looks like a princess.”

Cue. Heart. Melt.

When we got into class, McKenna told me that she put on her ballet shoes all by herself. (She’s 4.) The student next to her then said, “My daddy put on my shoes all by himself!” And I couldn’t help but laugh because she sounded so proud of him for doing this.

There’s never a dull moment with these kids, and I am soaking up every moment.

My Monday morning kids always have hilarious and clever things to say, as well. It’s definitely a great way to start my week and my assistant and I always look forward to it. One of the kids in this class, Dayna, has never said her name without giggling. I look forward to it every time. It’s the little things, y’all.

There’s still one recital dance I haven’t choreographed yet. It’s my Wednesday/Friday 3-4 year old class. So many of the Wednesday kids struggle to focus (they’re just so excited) so I’ve really had to put my foot down hard so they don’t fall behind, especially since it’s combined with Friday, which is a smaller class and way more focused. I want to have a feel of what they can handle before I make up the dance, and think I finally got that yesterday, so hopefully I can make up the dance while the studio is closed for spring break.

Tiny little kid hugs are the best things.


Three years

It’s been three years since I started this blog.

I never expected to have the memories and experiences I have since beginning dancing, and especially since beginning this blog.

I’ve danced in shows on a real stage with real costumes and lights and audience numbers in the hundreds. I’ve met friends through Instagram–some even in person (shout out Allie, Joanna, Hannah, and Jana!)– who continue to be some of my favorite people. I’ve gotten the opportunity to teach ballet to young kids, I’ve gotten to do so many fun ballet photo shoots, I’ve set goals for myself and achieved them.

I’ve also been given diagnosises I didn’t expect and seen these things I worked for taken from me seemingly overnight (even though it was a slow fade.)

Even as I type this, in laying in bed sick, unsure if it’s from overdoing it with the chronic illnesses or if I’m “normal people sick” which is making me even more emotional and pathetic, honestly. Emotions are good, but I’m hitting that pitiful point where it’s better to just sleep than deal with myself.

I don’t write as much, partially because my camera on my phone has been broken since September and I don’t have any updated pictures, partially because I have less to say, partially because having energy to write blogs is harder to muster these days, and partially because remember what I used to have that I no longer do is harder than I expected it to be.

There’s so many layers to a diagnosis, and I’m still unfolding them. As soon as I think I’ve figured out how to handle it and come to terms with my new reality, something hits like a load of bricks and I find myself muddling through all the feelings again.

I don’t want to let this go entirely.

I love the friends I’ve made through ballet.

I love the opportunities it’s given me.

I love the connections this common thread forms.

I love teaching the little ones.

I love getting to be involved with shows, even if it’s minimal.

I love being surrounded by something so timeless.

So how do I handle it all when I’m so limited now?

I’m still learning, and I thank you for sticking around as I find out, even when most of the days are filled with silence.



I have some of the greatest and kindest students this year with parents that are invested not in them becoming great at their craft and walking over whoever they have to to get there, but rather that they become people who make the world a better place.

Some of the moms will take an extra moment to say hello to me, tell me stories. Usually it comes from a place of letting me know something about their student to keep an eye on or be aware of which I appreciate as a teacher. But then it has seemed to sort of evolve into these relationships I couldn’t have expected or hoped to have. There are a few mom’s from years past that I still keep up with, but honestly I can only think of two off the top of my head. This year has given me a gift I never expected in the form of friendships with students mom’s that have filled a void in my life I kept ignoring was even there.

One of these mom’s found out about my health stuff (through a conversation about Harry Potter, because of course) and so gently and kindly offered some knowledge she has in homeopathic remedies to me. Most people I encounter with things like this don’t come at it from a place like she did. It’s not coming from a place of trying to get me to sign up for some multi level marketing or any gain to themselves, it’s coming from a place of something that she has researched and learned about and tried and seen success over years. She’s coming to me with honesty, not promises. I have so much respect for her.

This winter, this mom asked me if I had thought of trying yoga. I told her I had considered it and heard great things about it. That I have a friend who has told me of the ways it can benefit someone with herniated disks like mine, but she’s in Michigan so that’s quite a commute for lessons. I just don’t really know where to start with it all. I don’t want to blindly go to a class and hurt myself worse than I already am. She told me she knew a few instructors and asked if I wanted her to reach out to them and see what they suggest. I was insanely grateful for this but never really expected what came next.

She got back with me, told me the first person she had in mind is completely booked up but she spoke to another person who had experience in helping people with herniated disks and had some openings and if I was willing to try it out she would gift me with six private lessons. 

I would like to say I cried, but there’s a point where something moves me so much that I can’t even be moved to tears; like I’m moved beyond tears. This was one of those moments. All this health stuff has really hurt me financially in ways I don’t really want to expel here, but safe to say I’m not in a place currently to afford to prioritize yoga private lessons. Especially not knowing if it’ll really help or not.

I went to my first lesson and let her know that I was committed to this. We wanted to give it a try first before really plunging in to make sure it was something I would do rather than just feeling pressure to continue something that wouldn’t help or that I didn’t find enjoyment in because I felt bad since it was a gift. I found that very considerate of her, as well.

But guys. It has been helpful. In more ways than just physically.

I have been on this little road this past year and a half that I’m not all too comfortable to fully write about here yet, and this felt like a great next step on this path. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It’s a lot–more than I expected–and it’s uprooting things I forgot were there or that I had hoped to forget but am now in a place that I can deal with them.

I’ve been rather silent lately, and will probably continue to be for a bit as I try and process through some things. I’ll have a full explanation eventually, I’m sure, but that time isn’t here yet. Life is scary and painful and takes a lot of processing I’m just now realizing I’m allowed to do and it’s taking quite a bit of time.

Thanks for sticking with me. For still being so supportive and kind, even in my silence. Y’all truly are some of the greatest friends I could have ever asked for.

The Nutcracker 2018 second weekend.

Another Nutcracker season has come and gone.

The second week of shows wasn’t without it’s quirks, but the quirks are the things that make it more memorable.

Our second weekend is done with a live orchestra, causing some tempo changes and unexpected differences in tone. This year all the dancers as a whole seemed to be aware and really listening to the music rather than going with the motions their used to in the timing we have at the studio. I was pretty impressed.

Another one of the party parents was out this Sunday, so we had to pull one of the company girls to fill in at the literal last minute. I was glad when I saw who it was because I knew she could handle the sudden new thing being handed to her. She and I switched husbands so that she could have me to sort of watch for timing and stuff since the party parent that was gone was near the front. I actually messed up a few times, not knowing if I was in front or behind on things, but we got it figured out with minimal notice of imperfections.

The party girls were super fun, and we carried on the tradition of the year before of making up dances to do during the intro music. (I’m sure that music has a more technical term, but my brain is failing me at the moment.) they absolutely loved it, and honestly it helped me feel centered. I do well with specifics and tradition and consistency, so this made it feel like we were doing something good and productive while we waited instead of getting inside our own heads and getting anxious.

We had quite a few dancers that were new to our company this year, and having them was an absolute joy. They are all so very talented and kind and have fitted right in with the rest of the crowd. I was very glad to see such seemingly seamless transitions for them, and love getting to see them backstage and getting to watch them dance. Change is never easy, but I’m so happy to have them with us.

A couple of little moments I love and want to remember:

  • The way the dancers run off the stage, out of breath, just to gather themselves and go right back out the other wing
  • The little cherub skipping with her dad backstage after her part, saying how much fun she had.
  • Hearing the audience react to the scene you’re in
  • The little conversations that happen in the scene, whether it’s to inform them of a movement or change, or just saying things to stay in character.
  • The nutcracker hand off and how Drosselmeyer gives me a secret thumbs up after every time.
  • Seeing my students as cherubs and angels and taking pictures with them. (And the hugs they give me when they see me.)
  • Watching my friends side stage as they dance
  • Seeing the older dancers take the time to talk to the younger dancers, and seeing the younger dancers eyes light up with dreams of who they want to be.
  • Dressing room hilarity
  • Getting to hang out with my fellow party parents.

So many other things I’m sure, and I may update this list as I remember them. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this company. It’s something I never even dreamed would be possible when I set out on my first ballet classes. It was beyond anything I ever could even dream, and here I am living it. I’m under the tutelage of a legend who has absolutely incredible stories to tell, among some of the best people I know. I try not to take even a moment of this dream life for granted.

I saw one of my students from last year in target after the show. It made me happy. I just had to throw that out there.

My phone is still rather broken so I’m only able to take photos with the selfie camera, so i only really got selfies with my tiny babies and a few friends. (Which, ya know, not gonna post in such a public place.)

I’ll hopefully have all the recital dances choreographed over the break (while I’m dog sitting for a family that has far more open space than I do) and well start cracking down on it when we get back.

I have one private lesson student right now, and working with her is making me so excited to see the progress in these kids. I love seeing them excited about ballet and seeing their dedication and determination to better themselves in it. What a wonderful habit to have.

Nutcracker 2018 Week One.

We’re officially half way through Nutcracker and boy are there loads of memories that have already been made.

I’ve had to miss or be late to a good amount of the theater rehearsals since I still teach my classes, but it worked out since I was going to miss Sunday’s performance, the girl who I taught to do the “Nutcracker hand off” could practice it.

We had our two school shows on Friday, which are always among my favorite. They seem to come and go in a blink, but getting to go out and see the students, some of them kids that I teach, is my favorite thing. They also bring a certain liveliness to the show with their reactions and applause that is a magic all its own.

There was an accident with one of the costumes almost as soon as the last school show ended, resulting in the need for our dew drop costume to be cleaned before the next performance. My friend Emily and I offered to take charge and we washed the tutu in her bathtub and got it dried before the next night. It was oddly fun to do, although I don’t know that i would think that if there were more than one to do. Still, there’s something about having this legendary costume that has been worn by so many dancers in such a vulnerable state that felt historic. Maybe I’m just weird 🤷🏼‍♀️

During Saturday’s show, it seemed party scene had everything that could happen to happen. Okay, maybe not everything but a good deal of things. A few of the dancers broke down and were crying (though they pulled it together to dance like queens,) one of the party boys got caught up in the prop scarf and almost got choked center stage by a maid trying to take the prop off who couldn’t see him and his struggle, a part dad lost his bow tie which resulted in the best and most subtle retrieval I’ve ever taken part in (picking it up, handing it to my party husband as we danced, him sticking it in his pocket as he spun me, then letting the party dad know, hey, we have your tie, and getting it to him.) Drosselmeyer (I cant spell and am too tired to try so) almost backed into a party boy that was slightly off his mark for the nutcracker hand off and in pretty sure it looked like I pinched his butt when I was coyly handing him the nutcracker like “magic.” Then we didn’t have our goblets when we needed them at the end of the scene so we had to pretend we had them until a butler brought them, resulting in the two sides being off for that sequence.

BUT YA KNOW WHAT, we made it, dang it! The audience didn’t even realize half of this was happening, except maybe the choking kid, and even that we played off. It was entertaining to say the least.

One of my favorite parts is going backstage between Acts and seeing my students that are cherubs and angels. I take selfies with each of them and some of them give me the absolute biggest hugs. It makes my heart all sorts of soft and squishy. They’re the sweetest.

I was standing for too long and definitely over did it this weekend, and by the end of It I was laying on the ground backstage because my back was hurting too bad to even sit.

I’m not sure if this weekend will cause me to crash pretty in epic ways. I’m sure between that and this week I’m facing with back to back things and that’s with many compromises, I’ll feel some sort of repercussions from it all, but I’m doing my best to do my best to avoid as much of that as I can.

One of my sweet students moms found out about all my health stuff and offered to help me find herbs that can help me with everything. It takes time to really start feeling the effects, but I’d argue that I’m already seeing a difference, even if it’s slight. Maybe that’s because I have an excuse to drink tea all the time, which I absolutely love, who knows. Whatever it is, I’m not sad about it.

She also gifted me with private yoga sessions to see if we can get some strength back in my lower back to help my herniated disks not get even worse so quickly. I’m absolutely floored by her kindness and generosity to me, and hopeful that maybe I can get even the smallest bits of relief.

Life has been pretty intense. I’m exhausted and quite often fighting loads of discouragement, but I’m grateful for the beautiful gifts dance continues to give me.

Oh, hai.

Me: whats your name?

Student: Vivienne

Me: how old are you?

Student: three.

Me: and whats your favorite thing about thanksgiving?

Student: Christmas!

There you have it, folks. The answer to the great American debate.

Just kidding.

Hi, it’s been a minute. I’ve had every intention of writing posts before this, but excuses excuses, who really cares why I haven’t. Point is I’m writing one now! Yay! It’s a thanksgiving miracle!

As if there was any doubt, my kids are stinking adorable. I taught on my birthday, proving there isn’t much cuter than tiny 3 and 4 year olds hugging your leg and saying, “happy birfday, miss Emilee!” Maybe only rivaled by the kid who dressed up in a dinosaur costume for Halloween. I wish I could post pictures because, y’all, it’s the cutest thing ever. (This is the same child quoted at the opening of this post.”

I’ve gotten to sub a couple classes older than the classes I usually teach. It was really fun getting to work with 8-10 year olds and watch as it starts to click in their brain. To give them complex tasks and watch them rise to it. It inspired me with my 6-8 year olds and im starting to see real progress with them.

Please know that I have managed to pick all my recital songs from Harry Potter movie scores. It’s super fun having the parents as excited as I am about it. The potter generation is the best–I’m convinced.

Nutcracker is just around the corner. I am a party parent again, which is so much fun. I got the two party girls I wanted, and even a party boy this year, who is the son of a friend of mine. He’s so stinking cute and seriously the sweetest. I have my same party husband, so that’s a hoot as always. I’m super grateful to be in this family I’m in.

All my babies are doing really well with their roles. It’s super mind blowing to know the girls whose level I started in are seniors this year. They were definitely eleven to thirteen when I danced with them. What the heck, time?! I’m super proud of them all, though, and excited to see where life takes them.

My back has been progressively getting worse, albeit subtly. Sitting hurts about 90% of the time now, including when we sit in a circle at the beginning of my baby classes. I’m super grateful for my assistants who step up and demonstrate things I’m not able to any more. It helps my stubborn self do what I actually need to do Instead of pretending I’m okay and doing things my body can no longer do.

Sometimes I think that maybe I’m okay enough to take barre, but then doing the barre with the older kids classes I was subbing reminds me that I am indeed still sick and definitely can’t try and do the things I used to be able to. But for those moments before my body reminded me of the fact I’m not who I used to be, so essentially during plies, I felt so alive. I was reminded of why I love ballet so much, of how it rushes through you and engages every fiber of my being, filling it with electricity, connecting me to thousands of dancers before me. And just as quickly, we get to frappes, and my heart starts racing, my muscles tense up, and I feel energy draining as quickly as I felt energized. I’m reminded of my limitations. Even so, those 6 minutes of bliss were worth it. I know I can’t do this consistently–it’s too much for my body to endure right now–but I am grateful for the moments, the glimpses, I still get.

I’ll hopefully have more updates during nutcracker. I love to have these moments documented to go back on. My laptop crashed and my phone is pretty messed up, making updates more difficult than just my health makes it, but I’ll hopefully have my replacement laptop by the time nutcracker is in full swing and I’ll find some way to get pictures of I have to keep taking my assistants phones to get them 😂 (thanks girls)

I hope you all are well. Thanks for sticking with me even in these stretches of silence. ❤️

Kids are magic.

I’ve been teaching extra classes the last few weeks to cover for a teacher who has been out.

It’s been so much fun, as I’ve gotten to have a class one age group high than I usually teach. The 8-10 year olds are stinking hilarious, and they find my obsession with Harry Potter to be fascinating.

To learn their names, and sort of warm them up to me, I have them say their name, age, and favorite thing about themselves. It’s such a great age to learn so much more about myself through them. Kids this age typically don’t know to be afraid yet. Some are self conscious already, but are usually more trusting to adults they trust or respect. I love hearing how one got four ribbons in her horse jumping competitions, how another loves to read, how ones favorite thing is her family and ballet, how another is allergic to gluten. The things they decide are the things they want you to know about them are truly fascinating.

I’ve had to brainstorm ways to make my classes more challenging, and where I want to take each of the classes. These kids are more advanced than most of the classes I’ve had in years past, which is pretty exciting. It’ll make their recital pieces fun, too. Thankfully, it’s my classes as a whole. Each level seems to be a little higher, even on different days with different kids. I started out making them a bit more complex, but it seems they’re hungry for more.

I’ve started looking at costumes and trying to narrow down songs, but haven’t set anything in stone yet. I do want to try and make them all to the Harry Potter score to some degree. There’s really a lot of options there, given the fact there’s 8 movies, and two more in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. I probably won’t set anything solid until I’m sure of how many dances I have. Sometimes we combine days, but it hasn’t been consistent for my classes the past few years. I am excited for this group of kids.

I’ve had a few rough days here lately. Long days and my body doing scary things, which cause my brain to tell me all sorts of terrible endings. But seeing these kids warms my heart. Little things, like them randomly running up and hugging my leg in the middle of class, the hilarious facial expressions they make in this one part of class, seeing them excited for class, kids crying because they don’t want to leave. (L.O.L.) one dancer who’s sister I teach drew me a picture. She kept adding more to it to prolong having to leave. Then hugged me so many times I lost count.

I hung it on my fridge. It’s a reminder of good things still in the world, even when it seems dark.

Every day is a gift. I hope to never waste a moment.

Lots of the same.

My classes have been mostly filled with the most wonderful kids this year. I am ridiculously grateful for this as it could really have been a rough year. I have quite a few that I’ve taught before, which always makes me so happy, and some of them take classes on days I teach so I still get to hug their necks. It warms my heart seeing them excited to see me. I don’t think they realize I’m just as excited to see them.

Things seem to have shifted of late. I could try to pinpoint why, but I’m not really sure. I’m trying to just take everything in stride and see where it takes me, but all of this has left me sort of pulling back from here and my instagram, which I never thought would happen. Maybe it’s a good thing, I’m sure time will tell.

It no doubt ties in to health stuff. As I lay here on my bed typing this blog post, which is a culmination of many different ideas for posts over the last few weeks, I feel absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed at the thought of the upcoming week. This isn’t even with digging into the emotional toll this all actually has on me, but rather is just the surface, visible emotion.

I’m learning a lot about myself, which is a good thing, I just find it difficult to not feel guilty at not keeping up with all the ballet goodness as much as I used to. The opinions in my head get really hard on myself about how I worked so hard to build this up and now I’m not even fighting for it anymore. But how can I fight anymore than I do if even just the mundane, normal, day-to-day is more than I can realistically handle right now? I don’t know. I hope to figure it out. I love what I have found through dance and I appreciate you all more than I can say. I just feel a bit lost, I suppose.

I turned 30 last weekend, which began with me teaching 3 classes that Saturday. Many of the teachers take the day off if they teach on their birthday, or end up going out of town or something. I love teaching on my birthday. What better way is there to begin a new year than surrounded by kids who still think birthday’s are magical? I bring them cupcakes and their eyes light up with hopes for me and the new year. Not to mention adorable 3 year olds hugging my leg and saying “happy burfday” in their adorable speech impediment way of speaking. I don’t know how to handle birthdays. They make me feel awkward. So the past few years, and especially since I’ve started dancing, I try to take class or teach it every year. That way, I’m doing something I love, and also it fills the time and gets rid of awkward questions about my plans for the day.

It’s coming up on 7 years since I started dancing. This next week, actually. But do I really get to count the last year if I took a total of 4 classes the entire year, and wasn’t able to get all the way through any of them? Typing that sentence just broke me. Realizing that this thing I found and love so deeply and have fought for these past seven years is something I can hardly participate in anymore, knowing that nothing is certain in my future with this thing I cherish. It’s a lot to take in. (add in the guilt from the mind opinions, and it’s quite a doozy.)

Thank y’all for sticking with me through all of this. For loving me as a person and not just a dancer.

Nutcracker auditions were last weekend. I, obviously, couldn’t audition, but was asked back as a party parent, so I’ll at least be on stage again. I know standing on stage for Act 1 is going to hurt my back, and I’m not even sure if my shoe lift will fit in my character shoes.

Have I told y’all it’s only half of what I need? No?
Well it’s true. The lift in my shoe is 12mm, but apparently I need 24mm to be close to having my hips even when I walk. The problem with this is 24mm is FREAKING THICK so shoes don’t stay on with that much. My chiropractor is brainstorming ways handle this, but it’s possible I may have to special order shoes that have a left one with lift underneath. Hopefully I can find some that don’t look geriatric. In other health news, I managed to break my cane? I’m winning the granny life right now.

In other news, I have started finding time to write more, since sitting still is sometime I suck at but have to do now. Writing is (obviously) something I’m passionate about, and if you’re interested in the instagram account, it’s right here.

Hopefully I’ll have fun Nutcracker updates as December gets closer.

Love you guys

Oh, hi.

It’s been a minute.

Even then, I sat with just that first sentence for longer than I’d care to admit.

I wasn’t able to make any more classes past the one with Lindsi Dec like I was hoping to. My body was too exhausted to even try making it through a class, and I knew I needed to save up any bit of energy I had for the obligations I have before me.

Classes started August 20th. So far, they have been absolutely incredible. The kids I have are mostly dream children, and I have to ask myself what I did to get so lucky to have them. I’m very excited for the prospects of this year, although I am also on guard that I could still have many children added to my classes. Still, I think a wonderful tone has been set for the year, and I’m excited to see the progress these dancers make.

Life for me looks very different than it did this time last year. Heck, it looks different than it has ever before, really. My work load is “minimal” but also is all I can stand without extreme health repercussions. There are days that are easier to accept this than others. The difficult days have been so frequent that I’ve hardly even gotten on my ballet instagram to keep up with things. (For that I apologize.)

I used to see my friends on their go through an illness or injury that kept them from dancing for a bit and see them post that they wouldn’t be on because it was too difficult to see the reminders when they knew they couldn’t do that. I didn’t really understand it until these last three or so weeks.

I’m beginning to see, I think, that I’m really not going to be able to be who I used to be. I’ve been sick for years–literally half my life–but now that I have CFS, it’s put my life and my ambitions on hold and taken over. I see these people who are my age out there doing things that I so badly want to be doing, and I tell myself that I’m the only thing holding myself back and to go out there and do it, and then I realize that isn’t true. This illness holds me back, and to just push through it like I’m used to doing with obstacles is not only unwise, but literally threatens my quality of life, which is already way less than it used to be.

I try not to neglect the reality that I am still very lucky to be able to do as much as I do, and I want to make the most of it while I can, but I do have to come to terms with the fact that my life isn’t what it was, it isn’t what I dreamed it could be, and it’s all because of things I couldn’t control no matter how hard I try. And this isn’t something you can just learn once and be on with; it’s a many-faceted lesson that comes and goes in waves, smacking you in the face and leaving you in a puddle of tears when you least expect it.

I’m still trying to do as much as I can with my life while I have it, even if that looks differently than I expected. I’m trying to find ways to contribute to the world and those around me. I’m trying to extend myself the grace to be who I am now and the learning curve to figure out what all of this means for me. It’s a process.

This last year (since the hurricane) was one of uprooting the weeds that have been growing all my life, facing the monsters head on, and taking back my life. It’s looking as those this next year will be a sort of follow up as I fight to define why I’m even here and what my purpose is. As soon as I thought I had it figured out, it gets turned on it’s head and I’m left to start over.

But I’m still alive, and I’m still able to fight for this definition. These ailments don’t define me–I do. I still get that luxury to do so. I get to learn how to be so fully myself that nothing else matters. I’m one of the lucky ones.


I apologize in advance if my posts become less frequent. I’ll do my best to update when I have things of note to say. Unfortunately, having my ballet experiences quiet down means I have less and less to say that isn’t just repetitive words you’ve read a thousand times before. Hopefully around Nutcracker, I’ll have strokes of wisdom and all.

Life is weird. It’s one thing, then suddenly it’s not that anymore and you’re left to figure out what to do now.

Thanks for sticking around, y’all.

Summer Guest Teacher

Typically, at least once a summer, we’ll have a guest teacher come in to teach either during the studio’s intensive, or in the continuing classes between intensive and classes starting back up again.

This summer, we had Lindsi Dec from Pacific Northwest Ballet come in to teach class on Wednesday. She and her husband, Karel, were here two summers ago to teach classes, but it was in the morning intensive classes when I had to work so I missed them. I was so bummed. When I heard she was coming back this week, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have any random health complications like last week to keep me from being as fully present as I’m able to be.

Thankfully, my body kept it together, and I was able to attend.

I was a bit nervous going into it, as I tend to be with all new teachers. I find myself torn on if I should tell them that I’m impaired, for lack of better word, or if I should just roll with it and hope for the best. Recent days have taken away any of the guesswork on if I should say something, but part of me still wishes I could just pretend I’m “normal” and do my best and if I struggle maybe they’ll just assume I’m just not that great of a dancer and move on with life. *hah* More often then not, it’s the debate of how much I let on. Thankfully, friends of mine know Mrs. Lindsi and told me how kind and wonderful she is, so I felt enough confidence to shove aside the anxiety of it all and go. (Yesterday was a day full of facing these silly little anxiety induced things I avoid that hold me back from things I love, including going to a fun new coffee shop alone successfully, but more on that later I’m sure.)

There were already a few dancers there when I arrived about 15 minutes early. My friend and I assumed it would be a pretty big class since there was a guest teacher, and I was glad she suggested arriving with enough time to get a good spot at the barre because she was right. I decided to approach Mrs. Lindsi before class and just sort of get to the point of it. I think what I ended up saying was something to the effect of, “just wanted to let you know that I have a list of various impairments I don’t want to bore you with, but I’ll just be doing barre. So don’t be alarmed if I sit out center.” Of course, she was absolutely cool about it and even told me to modify whatever I needed to. It made me feel far more at ease about even being there, for which I was grateful.

I often find myself wishing I was a naturally confident person, that I didn’t second guess nearly everything or let anxiety try to whisper in my ear worries I never would have considered on my own, but that’s not me. My reality is that I deal with these things, I fight them, and sometimes they win, but that’s okay. I’m grateful for the days the battle falls in my favor, and super grateful for times when people are naturally kind in ways that sets my inner battle at ease. This was one of those times.

The next silly concern in my head was wondering if, in saying something, I would cause her to write me off as someone to pay attention in class. I didn’t take her to be someone who would do this, but often with teachers, especially in a big class, they’ll focus more on the ones that they feel or see will use the correction, or ones that are doing this for more than just funsies. I almost forgot to wonder this one, which is a weird sentence to type but makes sense in my head. Not that I wanted to wonder it, but I was sort of proud that I cared enough to wonder it, even though I’m slowly remembering that I don’t really have anything to strive for past my own drive to be better. There aren’t any roles to try for or anything to prove, really. I’m having to relearn where I belong in the world of dance, and it’s a multi layered thing I’m still discovering every day.

Like in Kansas, I was grateful I decided to do barre full out and sit out center, even though center is my favorite part. The way she did barre made me feel just as alive as center usually does, and didn’t have many if any of the steps or combinations that can stress me out with all the ways I have to compromise and modify. I was able, for the first time in a while, to simply do barre and mostly just worry about my performance and how much I was giving to it, rather than about what hurt or was cracking. Don’t get me wrong, my heart was flittering and my brain was deciding it was a good time to go dizzy and my lungs were not seeming to get enough air despite making sure I was breathing through the exercises (which I’m usually terrible at) but I don’t feel I focused on these as much as I usually do. My brain was clear enough to retain the combinations like I used to, leaving me feel confident enough to focus on my body’s abilities. It was refreshing.

I was excited when I noticed that Mrs. Lindsi was focusing on each dancer in turn throughout the combination. More than just a fleeting glance, she was correcting little things, and staying with the dancer until the correction was understood and implemented, being honest if it was close to correct but not quite there, while also making us all feel like we were freaking rock stars when we did things correctly. It was the perfect balance of correction and praise, leaving us striving to want to do more and learn more and try more, while also not feeling like we don’t have something to offer or like it all was too difficult to even try to strive for. I respected that.

There was a combination I was a bit concerned for that involved fondu’s. Typically, these are problematic for me with my uneven legs/hips/etc, causing pain in my knees and making things complex. I had just gotten a new shoe lift before class that I was trying out, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it significantly helped in fondu’s specifically, giving me a more even platform to plie from and helping me start with even hips and build from there. Once I noticed this, I became less nervous about the combination as a whole, even though it was the one that contained a few parts I was less than confident in throughout due to said long list of ailments. Mrs. Lindsi walked by at that point and I noticed her look from the dancer in front of me, on to me. When she did so, she said, “Good! Nice!” and carried on. It wasn’t in a general way, I know she saw me and analyzed what I was doing before saying it. It made me feel so good, a sort of reward for facing all the anxieties today and giving my heart the little ballet burst it has been searching for for a while. I got another “good!” during a balance I didn’t think I would actually hold but did. I struggled more with balances since the shoe lift doesn’t go through to the ball of my foot, therefore leaving me to have to readjust things and figure it all out to stay stable, but also lifted.

We had an hour long barre, and I managed to make it through the entire thing. My back was hurting by the end of it, I’m sure largely in part to getting used to the new shoe lift as is common, and my heart was do it’s palpitating it likes to do, and my hands were shaking a bit, but overall I still had a minimal brain fog which I was grateful for. I stayed in class to watch center, which made me so wish I could be out there trying all the corrections she was saying, but also grateful to get to sit in and hear them, as well as see them implemented by my friends. Seeing the light in their eyes as they take a correction, apply it, and see positive results is something I cherish, knowing they are so proud of themselves in that moment and seeing their confidence build a notch. I’m proud of these little nuggets.

I hope to make at least one more class, maybe two, before fall starts up. I don’t know that I’ll be able to take classes then since they’ll start later, putting me home after 10pm, but I’m trying to find different alternatives. One of my dear instagram friends suggested a good barre video that’s lowkey on ailments but good on the body and heart that I want to get (once I have income again) so hopefully that will yield positive results.

I hope you all are doing really well and are striving to be the best version of yourself, wherever that finds you. You’re worth it.