Nutcracker 2015, first weekend

We made it through our first weekend of performances.

I did Rat Queen and Petit Fleur on Saturday night and just Petit Fleur on Sunday.
My body decided this would be a super fun time to not like food, so that got really cute really quickly. I somehow managed, though, and made it through.

It was a really fun weekend. I did Rat Queen the best I’ve ever done it, though I could still improve more. Jessica is so good at it, it’s kind of difficult to match it. But I didn’t miss anything or fall out of the lift or anything like that, so that was good. I have one more chance to do it, and I’m excited. (two if you count the rehearsal I probably have.)

We had school shows on Friday, which is where I did my messing up. It wasn’t that bad, or all that noticeable, so I just kinda roll with it. The kids are great. One of them told me I looked like a clown, which I got a good laugh out of. (In my petit fleur costume, even.) Some of them just came right up and hugged you, which made me a puddle on the floor. It’s really cool to see their faces light up.

One of the nights, when we came out to begin finale, you could hear a child somewhere near the front gasp and say, “Look! The flowers!” It definitely made the smile on my face real and made me feel good. Sometimes it can feel pretty monotonous, being a petit fleur. It’s nice to be reminded that every role matters from someone who is out in the audience.

The Clara’s for this weekend completely rocked the role. I was so proud to watch them and found myself with chills, even after seeing it for the umpteenth time. They worked so hard and completely embodied the role, you couldn’t help but feel something.

This year, I haven’t really been in the dressing rooms much, which can be kinda lame, or kinda great. It’s definitely great. I love getting to see the hard work come to life, and also get to take pictures of and support my friends in their various roles.
There’s something about show season that is extra special over the regular dancing season. Classes are great and learning and growing is important, but getting to put on a production with your friends who share the same love as you is something hard to describe. This really is my family; the one I chose for myself. They are there to support me and help me when I need it. They laugh with me and cry with me. They love me, and I obviously love them. Even the difficult members, haha.

We have this one life, and this is part of it. It’s not just about accomplishing something, but about all the steps it takes to get there. A story with just a beginning and an end doesn’t make for very interesting reading. What makes it great is the middle–the journey. This is that middle part, the dash between the dates of when we’re born and when we die. We get to choose how to fill it an how we handle the things that come at us. We are creating now the stories we will tell when we’re old and grey, or even just in a few years when we look back on these ballet years. These people are the names we will say to those listening. the ones we’ll write about in memoirs. Obviously, not all of them, but the ones that truly matter to us. You never know who someone is going to become. They could be the next Margot Fonteyn or The Beatles for all you know. Or you could be. Who’s to say that won’t be so? We are living history.

I’m going to be really sad when this show is over, but I’ll look forward to the Spring show. I want to take every opportunity to be with and around my dance friends that I can–they make me feel alive. I think the hardest part of this new job is knowing how much of that I’m going to have to sacrifice, and the reality that my body just isn’t cooperating like I need it to be. I’m trying not to worry about the future now. I’m not there yet. Who knows what will happen between today and the days ahead?

Here are some pictures from this last weekend’s shows and rehearsals.

Lauren, Clara on Saturday night

“foot five” from when I learned how to really tie my shoes.

Abarrane killing it

Eloise, elegant as always

View from the stage

I don’t know why this always twists, but oh well. My feet on the left, Abarrane’s on the right.
I was given these polaroids and decided to take them entirely of Nutcracker things. They came out really well, I’d say.
This one is of me and Mariela. I love it

Dressing room, featuring Sheridan.

Sleeping Shrub

Abarrane and I

Watching rehearsals. In aw.

Shrub and Lauren!

This was from Katerina’s birthday party between school shows and rehearsal. So. Much. Fun.

Dressing room, featuring Adrienne.

Allison as snow backstage

Abarrane

Mariela

Allison, Lauren, and Annika

Lauren and I

Abarrane and Lauren

My sweet Lillian came and got some great pictures backstage. It’s so nice to actually be in the pictures for a change!

Ms. Heidi

(Thanks for this one, Shrub)

Maddie

Gabby

Alyssa as Clara from Sunday night

Elizabeth as Snow Queen

Cheyaaaaanne!

Eloise, Elizabeth, me and Abarrane

Adrienne and me

For real though

Emerson had to drop out because of torn ligaments, but was able to be our Nutcracker at the end of the show! We were all so glad to have her!

Mariela and me

Alyssa and me after her Clara night
Alyssa as Clara

Mariela in Spanish

the angels (melt)

Snow

A girl scout troop from Portland got to meet some of us backstage after Sunday’s show. They were absolutely adorable, and asked questions about the show and Ms. Munro showed them the stage and how the curtains fly in and out and the lights and everything that goes into making the show. Some asked how old you have to be to dance en pointe and how it even happens and what the shoes do to help. I asked if they wanted to feel the shoes, and explained what they were made out of. They were in awe. As they were leaving, one of the adults asked me if it was easier to get en pointe when you’re older or younger. I told her both had their pros and cons. That your feet are stronger when your older, which makes some things easier, but when you’re younger, you’re fearless. Risk is easier. And you have to be able to take risks. I told them I was twenty-five when I started and they were pretty shocked to hear I was twenty-seven and only danced 4 years. I told them about Annika, and how she has only done ballet for 4 years and she’s Clara. It’s never too late. You have to want it and be willing to work hard. 
One of the girls takes classes at Munro, and she was thrilled to get to be on the stage and see everything. We turned around to see her dancing and spinning and just losing herself on the stage, having the time of her life.

This is what it’s about.

Theatre Week, Night One

The favorite part of any Corpus Christi Ballet dancer is undoubtedly theatre week.
It’s when we take our rehearsals from our downtown studio to the Selena Auditorium and do everything on stage.
This is when it really gets real. The lights, the costumes, the stage, the audience, the wings and curtains and back drops and everything.

Last night was our first night of our first theatre week.
We rehearsed for the Saturday show, so I was Rat Queen. We only did partnered things in costume, so that landed me in the Rat Queen onsie and head. Hah.
I didn’t mess up any of the order, but it definitely is a bigger space to do it on, and way more difficult when you can’t see a darn thing.
I got critiqued for looking blank right before the lift (I had never done it in costume before and was like AH! but made it work. So. Warrented.) and for not grabbing the canon ball, since it had flown to the front of the stage and I had the perfect opportunity to get it.
That thing somehow manages to blend in with the stage, because even looking at the ground, I didn’t see it. This was also at the time that my left shoe had slipped off my heel, yet managed to stay on my foot, so I was going through the bit trying to work out if there was a way I could get it back on and also thinking of what was coming up that I would need it all the way on for. Turns out, no one even noticed and I made it work.
The partnering is a bit shaky, which makes me sad. Because I love to do it, and would probably look a million times better if we weren’t in these giant costumes with these huge heads, but that’s okay. Sean is great and makes sure I don’t hit the floor, so that’s nice. I think I’ll go over it with him once before we do it again to make sure we get the feel. We have first school show, so hopefully we have time to even do this. Regardless, we’ll make it work. I just want to do my best and prove I wasn’t a mistake being cast as Rat Queen. Mrs. Alex smiled at me, so that’s good. She knows I’ve never learned partnering before rehearsal.

There were many feel-good moments during rehearsal. I absolutely love being surrounded by so many people that I love so deeply. Especially in this time in my life where I’m surrounded by so much new. I didn’t realize how much I really thrive off of having something familiar near me until this week. My new job is absolutely wonderful, but there’s so much to learn and I suck at asking questions. I’d rather observe to learn, or just go with it, but there are things that I have to ask on and I feel kinda stupid and embarrassed. I gotta suck it up, and I will, but it still sort of shakes me.
Though, if that’s my biggest issue, then I’m doing pretty darn well. I’m trying not to freak out about tax season madness, since right now things are so low key. I’ll take it when it comes and do my best to make it through. I just want them to be glad they hired me, not feel any sort of regret or anger.
(Part of this is also probably from being so used to getting yelled at so much. Now that I’m not, it’s kind of a huge adjustment. A good one, but still takes time.)

I also learned how to properly tie my pointe shoes yesterday. (Thanks, Elizabeth) I never really understood the concept of why people would wrap one ribbon first, then the second, but she explained it and now I feel like a whole new world has been shown to me. I’m extremely grateful to have people in my life that are willing to help me fill the gaps where people assume I know what I’m doing.

Tonight is night two! WOO!

Oh, here’s some new stuff! (and pictures!)

We had an event for the Nutcracker on Saturday where some of us dressed up in costume and did a story time, inviting people to come to the shows. Barnes and Noble gave a portion of the profits to the company if the customers mentioned us at check out. Cool, huh?
Going as Rat Queen terrified half the children and intrigued the other.
There was this one little girls, couldn’t be older than two, who was completely taken with the Rat Queen. She was my absolute favorite thing, I wish there were a way to get a copy of the pictures from her mom! Haha. I don’t know how the Disney Characters do it, since they aren’t allowed to take any pictures.
I also saw one of my favorite little dancers from my old studio, Noelia, whime I hadn’t seen since our last recital at Instep. I took off my head and her mom remembered me and Noelia did after a bit. It made me so happy. She is dancing at Ballet Academy, which I’m glad to hear that she’s still dancing. She absolutely beautiful and incredibly talented, not to mention such a sweet girl.
There were two different times for the Nutcracker story time. Jessica was gracious to let me have the first slot so I could be done in time for a photo shoot (that got rained out, unfortunately) so I gave her the suit for the second part. It was such a fun time.

We had a local promotional event at the Lighting of Lamar Park here locally, and I got to be the Rat Queen for it, as well. (Which is fab since it’s cold outside and the Rat Queen costume is nice and warm) My dear, sweet Ayla was there as the mouse, so we walked around a bit together. It was quite the hit, seeing the “big mouse and little mouse.” I even made one girl scream when she commented on Ayla’s costume and I turned around to see her and she wasn’t expecting it. It was pretty hilarious.
Surprisingly, less were afraid of me than weren’t. I took tons of pictures with kids and sometimes other characters as well. We passed out candy canes and having the giant head sure did make it easier to give face to the local news station reporters.
I saw another one of my babies from Instep, the other one I had yet to see that I missed to terribly. Isabella was there with her Mom and Brother, and I introduced myself before taking off my head to talk to them. Her Mom was thrilled to see me, and remembered me right away. Isabella took a second, I’m sure also taking in the fact that there was a human in this rat suit, haha. Her Mom told me she hadn’t been dancing since Instep closed and I told her about Munro and the classes there. I told her about the class I assist and to check it out and that Mia was the teacher and the times and all. She was so pumped. I really hope to see Isabella at the studio!

I also got to see my friends Ryan and Lauren, who had a table set up with their two books they’ve put out recently. One is a book of photography and the other is a children’s book; both incredible.
(http://www.amazon.com/dp/1943842116/ref=cm_sw_su_dp)
They have been really dear to my heart and also such good, cherished friends to me over the years. I love seeing them and seeing how God is using them to make a difference in the world.

I got to hold on to the costume from Sunday until the event on Tuesday. I realized Sunday night that the Black Swan tutu is part of the Rat Queen costume and that it was in my closet. I text my sister and asked if she could get some pictures of me in it on Monday, and she graciously obliged. 

                                                   
So that was fun.
The costume was a little big, since I’m not wearing the giant rat suit underneath, but we made it work. I really like how they came out, and I’m glad to have these for if one day I can’t dance anymore. Plus, I think it was good for me to see that I don’t look like the image in my head while in a real tutu. (this is just me being real, here. My story, I can say it if I want.)
Obviously, there’s a few “bloopers” or whatever. My dad’s German Shepherd was chasing my cat who decided to saunter over to us. They also decided that right behind us is the perfect place to do this chase. Hah
My Achilles has been hurting, especially since this last cold front came through. I asked Ms. Heidi what I should do about it, and she showed me some different things to do to help it. Sometimes stretching it can make it worse. I was glad she said that, because that’s what I was feeling, but didn’t have any proof of it and didn’t know what else to do. Hopefully it’ll start feeling better. It is fine when I don’t dance, even in the interim. Between steps and combinations. 
My ankles were really weak before dancing. I used to hurt it just by stepping on it wrong, but I could never figure out what was “wrong” exactly. I hadn’t felt it in a while, but when landing a grand jete at rehearsal, I found it again, and my ankle–and Achilles–started hurting. It pops quite often as well. 
I woke up this morning to a text from my cousin. It was pictures of her double jointed fingers, asking if I can do the same. I told her I can, and sometimes in different ways, and told her how I can’t point straight because my fingers curve and how my knees and elbows hyper extend. She told me that she was diagnosed with hypermobility. That it’s genetic, and can actually cause gastrointestinal issues. 
Bingo.
It’s been quite a day of learning and discovering. 
I’ve learned much over the last few weeks, having more time to myself. I wish I could have written more before I hardly have any time at all. 
New things, and I’m sure they’ll be good–just different. I feel good about them, a bit nervous. 
I’m sure it’ll be good. 
It already has been. 

Nutcracker Rehearsals

Yesterday was our last rehearsal before Thanksgiving break.
Sean wasn’t there, so I just watched Rat Queen while Jessica and Greyson did it the way they would for Beeville. It helped me really get it into my brain. I think I’m confident enough now where I can just go for it and not mess up the order and more than likely get the timing right. Jessica has been great at helping me learn all of this. She is SUCH a good Rat Queen, which I greatly appreciate since it helps me see how it should look. (I’m so visual.)
I had to go and try on the flowers costumes again, which worked out since the other dancer I needed to try them on with got there early, so we were able to do it when Mrs. Jane had some down time, rather than when there was a million people around. Since Emerson had to drop, they had to fill her spot with a couple of girls, meaning they needed another costume. Since mine was the smallest, they needed to move us up so they could use it. I was kind of sad, since that one was my favorite and the girl whose costume I always get had it the year before, but that’s okay. (Besides, I looked at the names in mine and some pretty spectacular people have worn it. So I can’t really complain.) Lauren (who is one of the 3 girls now wearing my old one) said it fit perfectly, to which I said, “you’re welcome. (I love Lauren 😀 )

After Battle scene, they ran through Snow. Since I’m not cast in Snow, I took this time to get all my ticket sales sorted and turned in and catch up on crocheting, while watching and learning. I love getting to watch, especially the warm up, because you get to see things you miss in class. You can see people who do it correctly and compare and contrast them to the people who need a bit of improvement and then think of how you do it and see how you identify with the person needing more improvement and how you can get it to look like the person who is doing it correctly. (Way to go Cheyanne, your pique’s at the barre were so sharp and flawless!)

We ran Act II a few times after Snow. The Chinese are really killing it, which is great. That core of girls are really a group to watch out for. They’re very driven. I was impressed with how well they did the role. (Their private lessons are paying off)

We ran Flowers (did I mention it was all in costume?) and actually did pretty decently. (Well, the petit fleurs. I don’t know about the other two, I can’t really pay attention to all three.) We messed up our ending part, but they weren’t too hard on us because it had changed last minute last rehearsal. Now we have it down, though. The second run through, we managed to not get a single correction, save for what they called out during. (I don’t know if this is actually a good thing, or if it means they just didn’t see us or notice us doing anything wrong. At least we didn’t get a chewing for messing up the same thing over and over!) Another flower was out, but hopefully not the whole show. Her appendix had to come out, which is what happened to Mari during Oz. (I swear, there’s a curse this season.)

At the end, the Nutcracker comes out as they dim the lights and close the curtain. We were all really excited because they are letting Emerson do it! It was so crushing when she had to drop because of her ankle, but this way she still gets to be a part. And she said it’s healing a lot faster being in the boot with crutches, which makes me really happy.

Yesterday seemed to be the day of breakdowns. Tensions were high and drama was inevitable at times and there were people I really wanted to slap around a bit, but you can’t do anything except try to hold your maturity rather than stoop to levels you shouldn’t stoop to. Some of the girls were just pushed to the brink, but they kept going. I just felt bad because once people noticed they cried, then people kept bothering them. I wish there was something I could do to help in these times, but I know sometimes the best thing is to leave them alone. I just love them so much.

I kept forgetting things. Not choreography, but things. Like I forgot my Mustang Tickets at home, and forgot my nude leotard, and then forgot my little notebook of choreography and my crocheting (Thanks for saving me, Rowlands!) and to check out the Rat Queen costume for next Saturday. All noninvasive things in the long run, but still things that would have been better had I remembered. I didn’t forget Judy! Which is great seeing that I was her ride home. I really love that kid. She’s an old soul and really aware and wise and funny. I don’t feel like I’m hanging out with a twelve year old with her. She’s pretty fab.

A cold front came in, which made it super exciting because our company jackets came in! I’m not going to lie, I saw mine hanging up today and thought for a second that Annika or someone left theirs at my house before I remembered that it was mine. I always wanted to be a part of one of those groups that had jackets. To know that I was enough to be wanted among them. To have talent and some sort of place. This all sounds way cheesier than I want it to, but the point being, it feels really good. Never say never. I’m twenty-seven, and am now a member of the Corpus Christi Ballet Company, and that feels good.

(polaroid of my jacket. It’s dark and stuff but I haven’t gotten a picture, picture yet.)

How long will I dance? Who knows. But I know that I’m there right now, and it feels good.

Edit: Here ya go

Blurry, but yessss

This past week

Mrs. Alex wasn’t in class on Wednesday, so we had a sub. I ended up sneaking out towards the end, embarrassed by the fact I couldn’t do what she was asking. She was teaching more on the advanced side and I could do it—or at least try it—on flat, but on pointe it was impossible. It is a bit frustrating to have the class taught to a level farther than what we are capable of (and more so when most of the class is the lower level) but I understand with subs its hit and miss. (And not all the time.) She didn’t know me. She didn’t know I’m an adult and incapable of “just try” ing like the younger girls in my level. They rocked it and learned and tried, but I can’t do that. My body doesn’t always let me. Or it’s an addition onto something I have yet to master, even if the other girls have. Which I just have to accept, and know when to pick my battles. It was okay, I know where I stand and know what I need to do and have a plan on how to achieve it.
I had to miss Saturday’s rehearsal due to a wedding I was booked to shoot. It was laid out oddly, so I was actually able to swing by the downtown studio for a bit of the Rat Queen rehearsal. I was really grateful to get to see it one more time. It also worked out as Ms. Munro needed a couple pictures for the Beeville shows and I had my camera on me and was able to get them.
Sunday’s rehearsal went relatively smooth. We figured out a solution to the missing Petit Fleur issue (we being not us, just to clarify. Mrs. Alex and Ms. M are rockstars. Especially with how chaotic this year’s casting has become) and were able to help Ileana learn the extra role and Hannah and/or Nina did well switching spots (so well I couldn’t tell who actually switched.) Now we should be able to clean it up.
They didn’t have the air on, and there’s this fun thing my body likes to do where if I get too hot, I get sick. (My sister is opposite. If she gets too cold, she gets sick) I tend to have to be able to feel air blowing, but I try not to think about it because sometimes if I don’t think about it I can trick my body into not reacting. But it went a little too long Sunday, and I felt it hit while we were at the barre. I tried to ignore it, but by the time we started running rehearsals, my face felt really hot and Mariela said I looked red. This is a good sign, because if I’m pale it means fever, so I knew it was probably just the being-too-hot thing. I had to step outside for a bit to feel the air flow, and still felt pretty crummy. I knew chances were once we started dancing I’d forget about it, so I tried to hold out. Elizabeth showed me where in the studio you could feel the air blowing most so I stood there during corrections. Everyone was a bit hot, and Elizabeth found one of the Spanish fans to fan herself with after running Sugar Plum. She came over and stood next to me so I could get some of the air too, which I really appreciated. She is so good to me.
(Sometimes I sit back and am blown away by the quality of people I have in my life now. I got so used to having people who leave me or just want to use me that to have kind people who stick around, it’s still kind of shocking at times. I’m super grateful.)
We had another flower roll her ankle. I haven’t heard yet what the final verdict is, but hopefully it’s something she has time to come back from and can still dance in the show.  I got home that night and was putting stuff away in my house when I misjudged and hit my toe on a suitcase. Ten years ago, I hit this same toe on a suitcase wheel in Paris and broke it. I hobbled around Paris and London when we continued on there. It was super cute. It’s the toe next to the pinkie toe, which always blows my mind. Why this one? Why not the toe farthest on the end? How did that one escape injury again?(Maybe because it’s hunched over from when it too was broken when I was 13 and hiked on it not realizing. *shrug*)
I’m not going to lie; I sat on my bed and cried. I was terrified it was broken. That I, too, had become the next victim of the falling flowers and would have to be replaced by God-knows-who since we’re officially out of spares. It didn’t swell, and the bruise is only on top, so I convinced myself to calm down and got an ice pack for it. In the morning, you could see it was bruised, but only a little bit. I can bend it, but I could bend my pinkie toe as well when it was broken. I could point my foot, so I decided I’d go to class and at least try barre and see what happened. I told my teacher, Ms. Catherine, and she said, “You just can’t catch a break, can you?” I wanted to thank her.  So often these things will happen and my head tells me that I’m just being dramatic and should push through things and suck it up, when really I should take my time with them, even if it seems to be all the freaking time.
I could releve, but only if my weight stayed completely over the big toe. I could plie, but gingerly where I kept pressure off of it. I could point my toe, but only if it was slow enough to be careful so I ended up doing half the stuff rather flexed on that foot, and nixed the releve on the other. It was frustrating.
I skipped the second half of class, afraid of jumping on it, and skipped Jazz V. It made me sad, but I’d rather be safe—especially with Nutcracker at risk.
With perfect timing, I received my shirt I ordered from Marissa Milele which says, “Never Give Up!” When I emailed her to order it she told me to send her a picture, so I had one of my friends get a picture of it and send it to her.

She’s so great. So kind and encouraging. And I love this shirt. I think it’s a mantra I can really get behind.

I’m still going to class tonight, mainly because I told Adrienne I would help her work on fouette’s after ballet. Plus, I can watch and learn that way. Get it in my brain and all. 
Hopefully my toe will be okay by the weekend on next week. It really doesn’t look that bad. 
All else fails, if I can hike on a broke toe, I can dance on one right?
(Kidding.)
(Maybe.)

(also, just re-read this and it reads really funny. Like it’s just notes of what all I really wanted to say. I’ve been in a funk, I guess, and keep embarrassing myself. So anyone who encounters me right now, my apologies. I’m a mess and not saying the right things and blah)

Tuesday

It’s been rather humid here, lately, which causes our floors to be sticky and our barres to turn our hands colors. Thankfully, yesterday’s class was the class I do on flat shoes, so I had less of a risk than the other girls. Consequently, the sticky floors helped me be able to control my turns so I had the cleanest single turns I’ve probably ever done.

There were quite a few challenging elements in class, but most of them were petit allegro which I am unable to do because of my knee. This is great and terrible at the same time. I want to be able to do these things, my body just doesn’t let me, and that is one of the hardest things to accept. To have these visions of things you could potentially do and accomplish, but are unable to because of physical limitations that have little to no explanation. I have to accept that there may be some things I can never accomplish, and others that I will have to work much harder to find adaptable ways to accomplish, which will more than likely take longer. This just is how it is. It isn’t fair, but it is life.

I was able to mark the combinations; to try and get the pattern and rhythm and direction of the movement so if one day I ever can do it, my brain will be familiar. That’s half the battle, right? I flubbed up here and there, but it wasn’t anything dire. Most of it was just human error, which you learn from and do better next time.
Mrs. Julie showed everyone our recital costume, and played with a bit of music and some movements to start getting a feel for what she wants and what we can do. It never struck me to be afraid or nervous about recital until yesterday. What if they have an element I can’t do? I mean, I’m not really worried about it, but I am a bit nervous.
I’m trying not to think about it too much, though. No need to dwell on something that might not even happen. The music we were playing with yesterday was quick, but fit the vision well. I wasn’t absolutely perfect with it, but I understood the bits she gave us and felt confident if she used any of that, I would be able to work on it to get it clean and blend with the rest. 
Even just playing with it all just made me so excited to even be a part of this piece. I mean, four years ago I was the kid crying in the corner, absolutely certain that I would never get those steps that challenged me to the point of tears. That there was no way I could improve enough to be in advanced. It was just too fast, too complex, too much. And here I am, taking the advanced class, holding my own. Sure, I’m in flat shoes, but two years ago I couldn’t even do this class in flat shoes. The thought of triple beats on frappe’s seemed outlandish, same with beating jete’s or assemble’s or anything else. Granted, I haven’t been successful with those yet (thanks knee) but my brain is starting to process how they are executed, which is loads more than I had before. I thought for sure when Instep closed that my opportunity to be in an advanced class had closed with it. I didn’t expect going into my second year at Munro to be told by the teachers that they thought I should take the Advanced class. It never entered my mind before it was put there. And here I am, in this class, no longer a beginner.

As Mrs. Julie was showing the complex, quick, million-beats petit allegro combination, you could hear a groan or two from the girls about what she was asking. Mrs. Julie said, “it’s good for you” and it just kind of all clicked in my head that it is. You could see it on a few girls. They wanted the challenge. They understood that you have to try to improve. If we never try the entrechat six, you’ll never achieve it. Even if you look like a flopping fish your first couple times, that’s what class is for; to push your limits and learn new things while perfecting things you’ve learned. There are times when it’s good to just do clean versions of what you know, and then there are times to try new things you know you’ll suck at. If you do it enough, eventually you won’t suck. Eventually you’ll stop being the new girl panicking in the corner because you just don’t grasp the concept of a scissonne and you’ll become the girl in the advanced class.
We’ll always be learning, if you ever stop learning then you stop growing and why are you really there? Old dogs can be taught new tricks if they want it badly enough.

After class, I went into the small studio. Andie skipped a bit of her Jazz class and helped me out on my en dedans turns en pointe. I started with a few preparations to truly grasp the concept, then tried turning. I wasn’t getting enough of a plie to really get anywhere, and was getting frustrated with how I still “climb” a bit, but Andie said it wasn’t as bad as I was thinking. (Which, she’s the friend that will tell you the truth if it hurts, and won’t tell you something if it isn’t true.) I got the feel for it and the fear began to fade. Afterwards I felt confident enough to know I can try them in class. I still have a lot of work to do with them, and my en dehors turns as well, but that will come with time and work. I also find I turn better in class than when I try it on my own. If I’m looking in the mirror, I tend to fall out of it. If I face the corner, I have better success. (Although I tried the en dedans turns facing the mirror to see what my feet do and better understand it, so hopefully I got the feel enough to do it to the corner.)
(It’s all a balance.)

Today I have my tap class, which I missed a step she wanted us to learn and know for our recital piece. Thankfully, Cheyanne and Judy made sure I was shown the step this weekend and helped me understand it until I got it. I still need to work a little more so I can get a bit quicker, but the hard part is over thanks to them. It’s great having good people in your life.
If I wasn’t shooting a wedding this weekend, I’d be teaching three classes on Saturday. I’m a bit sad, but such is life. Gotta take it as it comes. (I think I’m more sad to be missing rehearsal, being that I can use all the practice I can get!)

(Maybe one day I won’t need to shoot weddings and can be more selective. That day is not today, though, but maybe one day.)

I just like that I love dance again. That I feel good and like I’m going somewhere; achieving something. 

Also here’s my feet.

4 years ago

Yesterday was my first class after my “week off of life.”
I know a week doesn’t seem like much, but it can really do you some good if you utilize it well.

When I first started dancing, I hated when something would happen that would cause me to have to take extensive time off from dance. In fact, it was actually 4 years ago tonight that I got in the car wreck that could have left me in far worse condition than it did. I had just begun dancing again a few weeks before. I was heading home from church, (which was on Thursday nights) waiting to turn into my alley when I was hit from the passenger side and my car was slammed two lanes over. 
I still don’t know where the car came from. It was all very confusing for me as it was literally the exact moment I took my foot off the brake and was intending to turn after two cars passed. I assume those two cars passed, because they were cars and no one else was hit except for me and the truck that jumped my hood and came back off my car. Somehow I got the blame for this whole ordeal, and it was all pretty traumatic, but I typically play it off. After all, I’m okay. It shut down the entire street and my friends I was just with turned around to come make sure I was okay. My left leg hurt and I could feel a mass, but of course I was in skinny jeans so I couldn’t see. I turned down an ambulance ride, knowing it’d be ridiculously expensive, and sat on the curb. Some lady I don’t know came from I don’t know where to check on me. She stayed with me until my friends got there which I appreciate more than words could ever say. I was terrified, and she brought me peace. (Thanks, lady I don’t know.) I literally walked back to my house, as this all happened so close to home. My friends that came back around to make sure I was okay had a new friend with her who was conveniently knowledgeable in medical things. She looked at my leg and suggested an x-ray. Shana told me to get some things and that I would stay the night with her. I told her I would be fine, but did what she said anyway. She took me to the ER in Portland, since it’s a smaller town (The town she lived in, across the bridge) and we would more than likely get in and out a lot quicker. I got signed in exactly at midnight, and my hospital bracelet says 11/11/11. (I still have it.)
They did xrays and said I was okay and gave me some anti inflammatory medication and the usual. I went back to Shana’s, skipped work the next day, and stayed there until my mom came for me the next day. (I didn’t realize how much I needed the love and care and concern Shana gave me until I was in it. For that I am eternally grateful.)
My leg bruised up pretty badly, and I have some marks from where the seatbelt was. Miraculously, the airbags didn’t break my nose. My face was actually completely fine. (If you want the full details of everything God told me and showed me and how He spared me, just ask.) (It’s pretty cool.)
I don’t know if it’s because I was wearing pants with elastic at the knee, or what, but I ended up developing nerve damage in that spot that I felt after the wreck. It’s on the inside of my left knee, and is typically fine. Unless it’s touched. Then my knee will hurt for a solid day. (Not too bad, considering everything that could have happened. Like, ya know, slamming my head into the left window like I should have, or the airbags jacking up my face, or messing up my ankle on the brake.) (When my Dad saw my car at the towing lot, he was speechless. Literally. He was chewing me out a bit as he walked up to the car, and then was at a loss for words when he saw it. He said that the only part of my car that wasn’t completely bashed in was the driver’s seat. But I’m okay. I walked away.
My camera on my phone at the time really sucked, so you can’t really see all the detailing. This was the day after when my mom had picked me up

The hospital bracelet (again, stupid camera)

This was a few days later, after I was back home. I stayed at my parents house until Saturday night I believe. So this was Sunday-ish. (I was back at work Monday.)
The numb spot is actually more-so that bit of normal skin among all the bruising up top.

My lovely boss’ wife made me cookies. I love her. (Cora, you’re a gem)


(I don’t have the pictures of my car accessible yet. Apparently my phone only backed up pictures I took then, and not ones I also saved. Shana got the pictures of the car, thank God.)
Time is a funny thing. It’s crazy to think that was four years ago. How much has happened in four years; the places I’ve gone, the people I’ve met, the people I’ve lost, the changes that have occurred, the things I’ve learned. It seems like a blink, but filled with one thousand years.

Needless to say, I had to take off two weeks of dancing after the wreck. I was so upset. I had just begun again and couldn’t afford to take off two weeks. I had already paid for a November I wouldn’t get to be there for. But life happens. You have to take the highs with the lows.
Since then, I’ve rolled my ankle, screwed up my knee and needed PT, had my gallbladder removed, strained my foot, gotten really terrible sunburns, (yes, plural) and probably more things I can’t remember. It seemed I was out for a week every few months there for a while, and though it was frustrating, but I started noticing a trend; I’d come back better.
Now I’m sure there’s some science behind this, but whatever the explanation I’m really grateful for it. Going back to class yesterday, I was a bit nervous. I was hoping that it would be a good class, but I wasn’t sure if a week was enough to really help me. Would I just come back stiff and regretting having taken the time off? Would it really help me at all? Are my feet gonna be so angry I’ll want to throw my pointe shoes out the window?

 I decided to go into class hopeful and see what happened. After all, I had two successful Nutcracker rehearsals before. That should count for something, right?
I loved seeing my Rowland’s and My Cortez’s.  They were two families I actually felt myself missing while I was at home. I swear there’s magic in them.
Ms. Catherine was sick, so Ms. Munro taught our class. There weren’t all that many students there, either, so I found myself excited. There’s just something about a good ol’ Ms. M class that can do you good.
My hips did feel sore, but thankfully Ms. Munro gave us combinations to help with that. We did balances in second, and back coupe, and other things I normally struggle with that I actually surprised myself with being able to hold. Ms. Munro saw two of them and complimented me. The first time, it was even a tone of surprise, like she was impressed. It felt really good. She worked us pretty well and I was a bit nervous I’d be too shaky to really do anything en pointe.
To my surprise, I was able to do everything except for the turn I know I can’t do yet. Thankfully, it was in a combination that I couldn’t do anyway because of my knees, so I just worked on stuff myself at the barre. I found myself holding balances longer, actually getting onto my box most of the time, doing releves I typically have issues with; I even did a really nice pirouette on my bad leg! My good leg wasn’t doing pirouettes for beans, but that’s okay. I marked them instead and got good clean preparations instead. I also felt myself able to roll through my shoe really well. This gives me a bit of confidence mentally. I watched Catherine and Adrienne on the turns I can’t do, trying to get a good understanding with them. I don’t want to try them before I’m ready so I don’t frustrate myself over nothing. Watching helps. I don’t know if it’s the lack of strength I’m still trying to gain up, or if it’s my short toes, or my jacked up knees, or what. They aren’t happening yet, but I hope to have them happen soon. And the fact I got that good clean pirouette on the one side made me feel really good.

I left feeling great, and really encouraged. That was really nice and hadn’t really happened in a while. I also think the people who were in class helped that as well. I didn’t feel judged or inadequate. I felt safe. I hope this is a growing trend that will continue to be this way and continue to get better. 

Success.

Updates (and pictures, hi)

I haven’t been posting as much because life is pretty overwhelming and sometimes that can spill over into the dance section of life.
I know much of this is temporary, so I’m trying to just get through the best I can with the least casualties.

A few updates, though:

Yesterday in the Jazz V’s class, I was paired with one of my little nuggets, Rachel, whom I haven’t seen in forever. We were given a set amount of time and a set piece of music to choreograph to. Our piece ended up being the only one largely praised. The main bit of corrections was things that would get better with practice and was in our original intention, so that’s cool. We came up with the concept, which we both kinda had separately and came together to put it together. I had to rely heavily on Rachel since I haven’t only taken last weeks class and haven’t had much Jazz before. Rachel had great ideas, and we put it together and made a pretty spectacular piece, if I do say so myself. Rachel isn’t shy, which makes it so much easier to work with–especially in a time crunch. I was really proud of us.
They started passing out the recital forms, and I asked Heidi if I could be in the Jazz V’s piece. I was going to mention it’s okay if not, or if she didn’t think I was quite up to it I understood, but her eyes got wide and she was really excited I asked. She said “We could definitely use you, you’re a solid base” to which I started singing Meghan Trainer, and laughing because I’ve always been a solid base my whole life so it’s no surprise. She then commented on how I bring something to it with my depth and acting abilities. I told her this is the kind of dancing I really want to do, but haven’t had a class like this that will take me where I am instead of expecting me to be more. And I hope soon that I can even learn more complex things, if my body allows.

Speaking of my body.
I asked my chiropractor yesterday about my back. He agreed it looks worse, and told me how they’re trying to get different lifts in and when they figure out where they ordered them from last time (the person who did the ordering left) he’ll get me one. He also said my back will always be like this. I’m contemplating a second opinion, but the hard part with that is affording a second opinion. I asked two of my dance friends if they knew of anything I could do to better dance with this issue, but they didn’t know much either, and also suggested a second opinion. My friend from Instep has scoliosis, so I messaged her and she gave me some solid tips on how to improve my turns when it’s a struggle to stay square, so that’s nice.

We had our Nutcracker pictures on Sunday. I was there for 8 hours. It was exhausting and I ended up pretty sick. So that was cute. But it’s okay, and the pictures came out good so that’s nice.
Here are a few fun ones that are on my phone. A bajillion more on my camera.

(we laughed at this one for a good long while)
I’m taking next week off of work to essentially avoid everyone ever. Hah. But really I need to get things in order with my house so I’ll feel a little more at ease. I don’t have time to do it on weekends until after Nutcracker, so that would be January. Also, I have pictures I have to edit and more on the way, so I don’t want to get too held up with that. I decided, also, to take the week off of dance to really maximize my productivity time. I plan to come into town twice to drink coffee and do endless editing, plus Shrub’s birthday but the rest of the time I’ll be invisible. (This doesn’t apply to the chosen few who are amazing and hopefully get to help me with stuff. Aka, the Rowlands. I love the Rowlands. Also maybe Elizabeth. Cause she’s fab. But that depends on scheduling. And obviously Shrub’s birthday.)
I think this will be good to do a total reset. I know already there are certain things I really don’t want to go back to, but this is life and I have to face it. It’ll be okay. I’ll make it through. Even though it’s may not be right or fair. Nothing lasts forever.
(Now I’m singing Wildest Dreams. This is the opposite of a problem.)
(Also, happy first birthday, 1989.)

I have wonderful people in my life that I am extremely grateful for that have really carried me through this difficult time in my life. I wish I could explain what they truly mean to me.

Lovely Things

Just a post of some things that have happened this week that I want to remember.

  • Sitting on the floor trying to untangle my yarn to continue to crochet. One of the younger dancers strikes an interest. I show her the stitch and she picks it up immediately
  • Another younger dancer tells me she’s good at untying knots and asks if I would like her help. Turns out she was extremely good at untying knots and got me over the hurdle I was at for a while. The two worked on different sections to master most of the knot.
  • Ayla balling up the other end of the yarn to help avoid knots and get more of the giant knot undone.
  • One of the mom’s saying to me, “You’re a person who always does what they say they’re going to do.” I wish I could remember what we were talking about, but this made me feel like I was the type of person worth being. This is a good feeling
  • Joss being absolutely silly and reminding me of myself at her age.
  • Mrs. Julie saying I am more than welcome to do the VI’s ballet recital piece if I would like to. (The costume is epic. I am so excited.) (Also, I’ll be doing it on flat so I’m more comfortable. She is all for it.)
  • Seeing Ms. Nancy for the first time in 3 weeks
  • Hugging her. (she cried.)
  • Reese remember who Cheyanne and I are, that we played cars, and asking to play with us again.
  • Reese and Cheyanne walking on my back. (There is a polaroid. I’ll post if I can.)
  • Reese jumping up and down when she says our names. (Oh my gosh melt.)
  • Reese cuddling up as I read her a book, leaving before it was finished, but finishing it anyway as I had a good sized group of advanced dancers around me listening.
  • A butterfly named Arthur.
  • Ileana telling me with wide eyes, “You did so good on Monday!! I was so proud like, “aww, go Emilee!” This means a lot since Monday’s lyrical class is new to me, and also the type of class I deep down want to be able to do. 
  • Catherine’s genuine smile and laugh when something is funny or she’s really excited.
  • Mariela being the genuine joy and support that she is. To say I value having her in my life is a vast understatement. 
  • Jazz hands.
  • Walking into the office and having to walk through Mia’s class. I wait until they finish the phrase and try to be invisible, as per usual, when I hear, “*gasp* it’s Ms. Emilee!” and turn to see Ayla with a giant smile on her face. I snuck a wave and snuck into the office, my heart officially a puddle.
  • Everything about the entire Rowland family.
  • Seeing Judy channel all the SYTYCD dancers in Tap class, then take a correction from the teacher and completely nail it.
  • Mariela telling me, “When you lifted it, oh my gosh, it was beautiful.” (After being corrected. Oops I was doing tendus instead of degages.)
  • Elizabeth and Abby always being there with advice and encouragement be it about pointe shoes, sore muscles, or problems in my personal life. Especially when it includes videos of cats or corgis.
  • My baby dancers (okay, they’re not babies at all. But they’re my babies, you understand) hugging me and high fiving and just generally loving the fact that I’m there.
  • Having such understanding and supportive teachers to learn from and help me to grow. 
  • Having such caring friends in class, looking out for me and helping me when I need it.
  • Getting to use the smaller studio on my own after ballet
  • Knowing, at the end of the day, even though the struggles seem insurmountable, I’m in a great place that wants nothing more than to see me succeed.

"I can stay."

I think my shoes are dead, but I don’t have time to sew new ones. I might figure out time somehow. I guess I kind of have to, huh?
Yesterday was our V’s class, which I really like, but it was a bit of a struggle. My pirouettes are still lacking and our teacher was getting onto us for them. She said we should be able to do doubles at this level. I struggle to even do doubles on flat, let along en pointe. I know most of my issue is my knee and back problems, and I’m working to try and improve, but it takes more time than I wish it would. Still, I’m seeing slight improvement, so that’s something I guess. I really need to get into my new shoes so I’m not afraid of rolling my ankle. Yesterday it was more that I landed hard and felt the weak spot my ankles have had for as long as I can remember. I haven’t felt it in a few years, so it was a bit of a shock. (It’s okay though.)
My knee held out and I was able to do everything else. My main issue is the unevenness of my legs and the lacking strength in the left. Siiiiiiiiiiigh.
Class ended and I put on my shoes to leave when one of my “babies” wanted me to watch her do something in the Jazz class. I did, then Heidi asked if I was going to stay. I told her not yet and as soon as I said it I thought, “But you know, I’m probably okay enough to stay.” So I watched what they were working on as they marked it. There were only five girls and it needed a sixth, so I asked Heidi, “Do you need another person? I can stay.”
I’ve been wanting to stay for this class. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite, but I do love how it makes me feel. I’m not overwhelmed. I’m not in someone’s shadow. I’m not the obvious beginner. I’m just me, and that’s enough.
I am challenged, though, which I appreciate. Just enough of a challenge. Plus, it’s all new to me, but it’s a new I’ve been wanting to experience for a while. The dance we did yesterday was the kind that makes you feel something. It wasn’t overly complex, though there were elements I struggled with. What I like about how Heidi handles this class is that if you can’t do something, you do what you can. She doesn’t pressure you into pushing for more if you know you can’t. It’s more about getting out of your comfort zone.

I think I’m gonna try and start staying, now that my stomach is doing alright. I hope to get more figured out with my back and knee so I can do even more. One thing is for sure–I was really grateful to get to take that class and just let myself feel and show it through movement.

I have many other thoughts from yesterday, but I’m going to keep them for myself.

My friend Amelia took this while I was putting on my shoes yesterday. It may seem simple, but it really means a lot to me. So many times I’m the one taking pictures of other people and no one really does that for me. Not that they have to, not at all, but it kinda weighs on the heart when you look through these great pictures and these candids and you’re in none of them. But it’s not really something you can just ask someone else to do and hand over your camera. There’s something special that is caught in an unexpected moment. Amelia did that for me, and I treasure it.