Push the limits.

Yesterday’s class started off rough but ended on a high note.

I’m nowhere near where I want to be in my training, and I know I have to work hard to get there. But yesterday it felt like all my flaws were screaming out as Ms. Lori and Ms. Munro were watching. I was embarrassed and unsure of what the problem was–is it something I need to work through, or is something wrong with me? Both are high probabilities–and had to take a mental moment to pull myself together so they wouldn’t see my struggle.
There’s no time for that.
You have to make the split second decision. Are you going to fight through? Or are you going to tap out and not know your full limits?
How will you improve if you don’t push the limits?

So even though I was shaking and didn’t know why, even though I felt I couldn’t breathe, even though my head felt really weird, I kept going.
I pushed myself through shaking legs and frazzled emotions and kept going.
I have to be better. I have to try harder.
I can’t wimp out.

It wasn’t perfect. There were brief moments where I didn’t push it–mostly out of fear that I’d hurt myself or something, and I had already proven I could do what was being asked, which was a big thing for me as I was mostly proving it to myself–but I at least tried it. I didn’t wimp out. I didn’t make excuses. I faced that mirror and I did what I could and I dusted off the words my head was telling me.
There’s nothing I can do about it at this moment.
It won’t always be this way.
please don’t let me be lying to myself.

Despite it all, I finally felt a bit of improvement with pointe. I felt more comfortable in my shoes. I felt a smidge more confident. I felt like maybe this will be okay and I’ll keep working hard and get to where I want to be. That all is not lost. Maybe I’ve finally broken through that barrier of fear that’s been holding me back.
If you’re afraid, that’s when you’ll get hurt. You have to trust yourself and go confidently towards what you want. If you fall or fail, you get back up and learn from it. Failure shouldn’t define you, it should guide you.

Class carried on.
We worked on recital, and I felt myself soaring through bits I had previously been nervous about.
I felt myself improving.

We moved into the bigger studio when the other class was done and ran it as they were all still leaving.
Their teacher–a noted strict one who doesn’t take funny business–stayed and watched us.
The pressure was on. Most of the girls didn’t feel it because most are unknowing of his expectations. I wasn’t afraid, just aware. I did my best. I focused as hard as I could. I counted and followed and lead and everything else.
We finished.
He applauded.
He complimented our teacher, said it’s looking good.
He told us to imagine how good it would look if we pointed our feet.
Then.
He complimented us.
I get back to the side we start on before running it again and look at the other V and said, “Did you hear that? Brian just complimented us. And we had a silent freak out together because that never happens.
We ran it again, we added in the new bit and brainstormed how we would end it. Ms. Munro was there and she seemed really pleased with the dance. Ms. Lori is the sweetest most humble lady ever.
Toyed with the idea of adding more music to the dance since we cut out the into to the first bit, but it’s a bit long already, but that’s okay.
I’m so happy.
I love this dance.

I want to work harder, but then I wake up in the morning to sore ankles and realize I’m probably doing all I can at the moment and shouldn’t push it too hard. Time will show this is worth it.

After class

They said I earned it.

We had our second Crows rehearsal on Friday.
I wasn’t expecting all of the girls to be there, since one of them told me she wouldn’t be able to make it, but they all showed up. We were able to teach the two girls who had missed last time the dance and changed up one part (which added this funny floppy-fish move which is kind of awesome) to make it flow better.

Since I’m just the cover, I did everything behind the other girls. It was awkward for me because this was my first experience covering, so I asked a lot of stupid questions, but I honestly just didn’t know. Ms Julie is really patient and understanding and amazing, so she didn’t make me feel stupid for my questions at all, which was really nice.
We ran it and ran it and tried to perfect it and got a little better each time. It is such a fun dance, I enjoy getting to be a part. Ms. Jane had finished the costumes so we were able to try them on to make sure they fit, and it is probably the best costume I’ve ever worn. (I also made her laugh with a boob joke. So, there’s that. I love Ms. Jane.)

After rehearsal was over, I asked Ms. Julie if she wanted me there for the Crows pictures or not. I figured that the covers usually didn’t take the picture with the cast dancers, but it’s a good deal before my Winkie Guard picture so I wanted to be sure. It wasn’t close enough to play off and show up early just in case. I almost didn’t ask, but I figured, “Why the heck not?” I’m new anyway, right? I’ve already asked stupid questions. Why not ask another?
She was sitting next to Ms. Munro, and so she got this soft look on her face and turned to Ms. Munro and said, “Well, I don’t know what we normally do? Are covers in the picture?
To which Ms. Munro replied, “Normally not, but, do you have a costume? You do, right?”
To which I said, “Yes, ma’am. Ms. Jane had enough material left over and made one in case I have to fill in for someone shorter. Don’t want to get caught unprepared.”
Then Ms. Munro said, “Well I don’t see why not. You’ve been doing extremely well, all of our covers have been picking up on their dances and working really hard.”
Then the subject kind of switched over to scheduling, because four of the six girls have something going on with the same school extracurricular activity that I thought they were missing that rehearsal for. (It ended up only being Saturday they missed.) Ms. Julie says, “This is why covers are so important; for traveling. That’s how I ended up getting my start. I was a cover and we were traveling and we lost a dancer so they put me in. Covers are so important and it’s a big responsibility to have to jump in on a moments notice. We don’t cast them lightly. And they are all doing so well; you may think we don’t see it but all your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Then Ms. Munro pipes up, “That’s it! You’ve earned it! You’re in the picture!”

And my little heart melts and explodes at the same time.

I almost cried when I got cast as this role, because I thought I just solidified my fate at how horrible I am at the audition. The fact that I got cast as two different things–even if one was just a cover–blew my mind. I was included, I was seen. Then I heard a comment that made me wonder if I was just put as the cover as a have-to. Because I’m a IV/V, and all the other IV/V’s have two roles, too, and I’m not an actual role–I’m just a cover. Maybe it was just to meet the two-role quota. I tried to encourage myself that it could have been worse and that being given this opportunity was a big responsibility, but in the back of my mind I remembered being the fill in during advanced at my old studio and how when someone dropped they didn’t put me in, they just reblocked. I wasn’t good enough. I failed. Maybe they were seeing it as a way to fill the quota and a fairly easy risk since chances are I won’t have to dance and then crisis averted.
I wanted to prove to them I could do it. I wanted to work hard to show them it wasn’t a mistake trusting me with this role. I want to be prepared just in case something does happen I don’t embarrass myself or make everything else look bad. I didn’t want to falter in the trust given to me. So I worked hard, even though I don’t really have much to work with to be able to practice. I kicked walls running through blocking in the bathroom, I pulled a muscle sneaking in a practice in the warehouse at work. I went over the steps in my mind until they were solid, mentally thinking through every step and how it transitions and pouring over the details so I could approach this confidently even though every bit of this is out of my comfort zone because I know confidence does more than talent can ever do alone.
And it was worth it.
Even if I don’t get to dance it, even if rehearsals is all I ever see of this dance, even if I don’t get to feel the swish of the dress at my knees on stage, I get to be in the picture.
And even if something happens and they don’t make enough head pieces and I have to not be in the picture or something, I would be a little sad, but that would be okay, because I got all the validation I need.
They said I earned it.

That bit of happenings meant more to me than I could ever explain or express.
Now I’m itching to work hard and continue to improve.
I wish I could afford to dance more, but I am grateful for rehearsals. Even just having that, I can see improvement.
I am hopeful.

Winkie Guards Rehearsal

Saturday was our second rehearsal for the Winkie Guards role in Wizard of Oz.
I realized this weekend that being in this role, we will be on stage almost the entire second act of the show. There are five scenes in Act II and we are in four of them.
This is incredibly exciting.

One of the girls made the comment that she was offended that we weren’t dancing on pointe.
I kind of laughed at the notion of it being offensive, but I also think I am viewing this from a different mindset than someone who has grown up in this studio and thinks in the hierarchy of things. And also, whose friends are in roles that dance on pointe.
I see it from the mindset of the shape of the show as a whole.
Winkie Guards doesn’t need to be on pointe. If anything it’s more of a contemporary role than a strict ballet one. We’re wearing jazz shoes. It just makes sense. Maybe it’s the theater brain in me.
I tried to explain this to her, that it’s nothing to be offended at because they didn’t decide this based on our ability. They decided roles based on height, took into minor consideration our levels, and what shape the scenes would make.

We learned our entire first and second scenes. I think they are very fun. Our next rehearsal will include the Wicked Witch of the West, which means that my friend who plays the witch will be there, and also my friend from class who is the cover.

The Winged Monkies are adorable, and each of us are assigned one that we kind of buddy up to. Mine ended up being my friend from my old studio, who ironically was out that day. I don’t know if Julie did it on purpose or what, but I’m excited.

We also have a Crows rehearsal on Friday, with Coco the Crow as well. The girl whose spot I covered last time won’t be here this time either. So we’ll teach the other girl who was absent this week, and then will have to teach the other girl the next rehearsal, which I think is when we’re getting more into it and adding more of the characters together. It’s not hard, it’s just fast. I hope she can pick up on it.

We’ll see what happens.
I’m excited to have more people in with us, but sad that I won’t get to take as many pictures this time around. I’m going to try and see if I can get someone to come and shoot a rehearsal, but I don’t know. I wish I could clone myself.

It just kinda sucks to be the one taking all the pictures, although it’s awesome to be able to give them to the other dancers, it sucks that the parts your in get overlooked.

I need a clone.

Orchestra week, performance one

I didn’t post about the last rehearsal because I was so flustered I didn’t even want to try. But yesterday’s performance was wonderful.
We had a rehearsal yesterday afternoon, and a performance in the evening. It was orchestra week, so we really had to focus on counting and keeping with the music since it typically goes a little slower or faster or both, haha. 
It started with rehearsal, where while doing crunches, someone made a fart sound and we all died laughing. It was pretty great. The performance warm up was done with the curtain closed. There were so many people there that we had to let them in early and finish warm up with the curtain closed. Ms. Alex said she thinks it was a record.
And boy the crowd was a great one!
There were so many friends in the audience, it really made my heart explode. I don’t know what it is about it, but it makes you feel good to know you have friends that love and support you. I guess for so long I did things and no one really cared. They thought I was wasting my time or it was a phase or whatever. But now I’m doing something I love simply because I love it, and I’ve been given these amazing opportunities to do more with it; it’s great to have people support you in it. (Even if you’re only on stage for a minute and a half.)
I’m getting to know more of the people here, too, which makes me feel really good. They are very kind to me, a mere outsider, and help me and encourage me. I can’t express what that means. To have these advanced girls telling me I’m dancing well, and not just saying it to say fluffy things–they don’t know me, they don’t owe me anything, but they say it and genuinely mean it. It’s a beautiful thing.
In the hallway during intermission, one of the little blue soldiers noticed I was new. So she asked if I was new, and a flock of blue soldiers ended up around me, giggling and talking over each other about this that and the other. The dance mom for them said I could tell them to leave if I wanted, but I love kids. It makes me happy. The same one asked how old I was, and I made her guess. She stared in my eyes for a little bit, commented that I wore contacts, then said, “fifteen!”
Hah! The group then guessed all sorts of ages until they finally got to twenty-six and they didn’t believe it. One said, “how are you twenty-six?” To which I replied, “well, I was born in 1988 and the years just keep coming.”
It was such a hoot.
Some of the older girls thought I was a senior.  I’m just starting to go with it.
I got to take pictures of the snow, which came out good and made me happy. The girls did a great job. I was so proud.
Second act went about the best yet. The orchestra goes a little slower at our part, which was nice for me because I was actually able to do the pirouette well! It made me happy. We even did the finally the best we’ve ever done it, and on time! I did kinda roll my foot in those stupid chaines turns, but I didn’t hurt it so that’s good and no one really noticed except for one of my flower friends. Hehehe.
I’m trying to upload pictures, but I’m on my phone and its kind of funny. So I’m gonna act like they’re there so I don’t forget what I want to say and if they don’t show I’ll add them later. So. Keep checking back at my blog 😀
Abby was our Clara last night. In getting to know dancers and their moms I found out she has an autoimmune disease. I do too, although a different one, and to see her take on the complicated and strenuous task of the roll of Clara and do SO incredibly well, it really encouraged me. She wasn’t just “good for being sick” she was good and you wouldn’t have a clue she was sick if you weren’t told. What an amazing thing! She’s such a sweetheart, too. A great heart makes me happy.
(Okay. Here come the groups which I don’t know what order their in so whatever. Bare with me)
Sarah and Liz went to instep with me. Liz dances at Munro with me in the 4s class and also takes the adult ballet class and sarah comes occasionally,  but also takes at a different studio occasionally. They have become some of my greatest friends. I’m so grateful for these two.
Sara and Rachel became my friends through other friends which I think is pretty cool. They have hearts the size of Texas and are constant encouragers, even if we don’t get to see each other often. The one in the center is now my new friend as well!
This group is one that is full of people from all different parts of my life that have come together in one place over time which I think is really cool. Sarah (I know, I know a lot of sarah’s) went to private school with me when we were kids. Rebecca and I were in the same dorm at Bible school. Wendy and I met when we shared a tent camping in the dead of winter, and Jessica and I met at the place that is the common denominator for us all, the Net. I met Lesley last night, and she is now my new friend as well! So great having them there.
Lisa and I met through a Bible study. Her daughter gave me the nickname “Lelee” when she was 3, which melted my heart. Especially since I’ve heard about every nickname possible for my name, and she found a new one. I hadn’t seen her in some time, yet as soon as she saw me she ran straight into my arms yelling, “Lelee!!!!” It meant so much to me. Chloe takes ballet as well, which makes me so happy to know. Such sweet friends I’m grateful to have.
James and I went to high school together and did theater together. Our last show he played my dad in the music man. I was so glad to have him there for my first show in pointe shoes. He told me he was really proud of me for following my dreams and it really means a lot.
Last, but definitely not least is my sweet Lillian. She has been there for me since I was still at instep, and has been a constant support every step of the way. She encouraged me to audition, to stick it out when I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, to work hard and not let the older girls intimidate me. She’s cheered me on even as she found herself injured and side lined. She celebrated my successful pirouette and the finale finally being together. She’s the one I complain to when things get complicated, and encourages me to keep my head up. Her boyfriend even told me that he was watching my feet the whole time and was impressed by how well I did (!!!!!!!) I cherish them so deeply and am so happy to have them in my life. She also brought along some dear friends I used to work with (how we all met) Bri and Mel pictured here. 
I love them so much.
Tonight is our last show, which makes me really sad but gets me excited for the next show. Spring show auditions are in a couple weeks. It’s a new show so we aren’t really sure what all we’ll have. We’ll see how it goes!!
Thank you, all, for encouraging me in this. I’ve grown so much through the nutcracker and am so grateful for all my experiences I’ve had. Thank you for encouraging me and ready my stories. It means more than you’ll ever know.

Nutcracker shenanigans

Saturday’s rehearsal was a little different.
We’ve gotten to the part of the rehearsal season where we know the dance and mainly just need to work out all the kinks. Ms. Munro wasn’t there, so we had Ms Alex running it with us, as well as some of the company members (I’m assuming?) Helping out, one of whom I didn’t know.

We ran it through the first time, and Ms. Alex comes over to us and tells us individual critiques, “You need to make sure your knee is straight when you pique on to it. You need to make sure that your feet are pointed. Oh, they’re flexed during that part? Okay, then that’s good. Everyone flex your feet on that ending jump. And you,” she looked at me, “You were the only one who smiled the entire time. You all need to do that, too, make sure you don’t forget your face!” Building up to the moment where she’s going around and looking and different girls and giving corrections, I found myself nervous. Then to get a praise instead of a correction, I was taken back. I found myself thinking that surely there was a time I wasn’t smiling, especially since I don’t remember thinking about it the whole time. Sure, there are times I remember, but not all the time. I guess this is when my awkward smiling-all-the-time-no-matter-what thing comes in handy. (Times it doesn’t come in handy: when you’re getting a ticket and they take a picture of you that you know nothing about and when you try to fight it the prosecutor is confused as to why you look so happy to be pulled over.) Stupid defense mechanism… Maybe all my theater training is finally coming in handy.

We ran it a few more times and Ms. Alex pointed out the different things that needed cleaning up, which made me really happy, because that is what really bothers me most as an audience member. As we went on, she complimented me and my partner Summer quite often, which made us feel really good. She even used us as an example of how it was supposed to be done. Yep, we were freaking out internally and to each other.

Overall, I’m really proud of the girls. They’ve done amazing and have really grown in their skill and musicality. It’s a good season.

While they rehearsed the lead Chinese, I took a couple pictures. (Since I had a photo shoot before and had my camera.)

One of our Clara’s 🙂

Another Clara in the Lead Chinese role

Some new pictures

Nutcracker Photo Day!
Lillian and I. This is probably my favorite picture ever.

All my Chinese girls, except one

Lillian captured this bit of perfection. That’s our dance teacher, Ms. Munro, showing us how to hold our umbrella’s.

🙂

Just some snow, hanging out

Me and my sweet Shrub 🙂 Words can’t express how proud I am of Annika. This girl has some serious skill.

Some flowers

More flowers

Guys. They spelled it right.

Creepin’ the flowers.
Some Pictures from rehearsal
This costume room. Oh my gosh.

Watching the Lead Chinese. Ms. Munro caught me taking this and laughed. 

Dead little toesies.

This one is actually from class. But whatever.

So You Think You Can Dance.

Growing up, we were never the kids that got to go to the concerts or big events that we saw on TV, heard on the radio, and our friends were going to. Back then, nothing came south of Houston, and that was just too much for us to try to do. I never really regretted it or anything, but I kinda wrote off in my head that things like that were impossible.
Well, last night the impossible happened.
If you know me, you know I’m mildly obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance. I’ve always like it, but this season in particular was one that I followed closely; making notes throughout auditions on who I thought would go far, claiming favorites early on, watching those favorites make it into the top 4, and my other favorites past the top 10. I wanted so badly to go to the US Tour the top 10 does, but the Houston show was the same day as Bailando, and I knew I couldn’t miss that. They had a show in San Antonio, but it was on a Monday. It didn’t seem feasible to go and drive back the same night so I could make it to work on Tuesday, especially since I am notorious for falling asleep with my eyes open. Yeah, that’s not a good mix for driving.
I had a viewing party with two of my dance friends for the two-part finale. (Mainly because Directv doesn’t get Fox, and I really wanted to see this live, so, I mean, Andie wasn’t sad.) The first Wednesday night, another dance friend was texting me over how amazing the dances were. She told me that they were going to see the tour in San Antonio and how excited she was about it. At first I was overwhelmed with jealousy. This was something I wanted so much I couldn’t explain it. There’s something about dance that touches parts of the soul nothing else can touch. It connects people in ways like nothing else. This season was so special to me, and I really wanted to see it full through, I wanted to see it live. I half-jokingly told Natalia she should tell her mom to take me with them, to which she responded, “I can ask her!”
And she did.
And her mom was totally okay with it.
So I asked where her tickets were, and looked up one in the same vicinity. The app automatically picked the best seat unless you told it otherwise, so I just went with it. I was shaking at the fact that this was happening and couldn’t form thought process to try and think through anything, but I mean it would tell me, right? So I bought the ticket, freaked out, and just hoped this wouldn’t blow up in my face like most things do. All too often I’ll get my hopes up for something, just to have it shot down by one thing or another; but this, this looked hopeful. When I got home, I opened up my laptop and looked up the seating of the Majestic Theater to see where my seats were.
Turns out OR RGT C10 meant the freakin’ second row on the right side.
The second row.
Second row!
There’s no way!
Surely, there will be a boom camera or something blocking my view. There’s no way it was this easy. Maybe a pillar or something. There has to be some reason this ticket was there. After all, it was the only non-VIP seat in the row.
For being one all about documenting the journey, I sure have a way about keeping silent about how I really feel up until it happens and I know it’s sure. Thoughts to ponder there…
So anyway, Natalia and I are counting down the days, and when Monday finally arrives I’m nervous-excited at work all day. I met her at her house at 4:45 and we headed off for San Antonio.
Natalia and I are at different studios, now that Instep has closed, so it was really good to get to have the drive to spend time with her. Man, I miss my dance friends so much!

We get to San Antonio, and the Majestic is downtown leading us to have to wind our way around one way streets to try and find a parking garage that isn’t full. In doing so, we drive past a bunch of buses and semi-trucks. As we wait for traffic to move, we see Rudy among a bunch of Tech people.

(Total Creeper Shots)


Natalia is beside herself, but we refrain from jumping out and instead just go to find parking and head inside. We bought shirts and programs and just stood in awe of how beautiful this venue is. We tried to soak in every moment of this entire night, and let me tell you, there was so much to soak in.

(We are excited)

The little sounders to let you know the show is about to begin start tinkling so we make our way to our seats. When I asked the usher where to go, he told me, “Down this Aisle, look for row C on the right.”
So I did.
And as I got halfway down I realized I was just at row Q, and row C is like, way farther.
So I looked up.
No boom camera.
No pillar.
The only thing “in my way” was a lone cable from the stage that didn’t matter 99.8% of the time.
How is this really happening?
I get to my row, and the rest of the seats are filled with two excited little girls and their Grandmother, with a seat open for their Mother as well. We greeted like old friends, and the oldest proudly told me, “I’m gonna be on So You Think You Can Dance when I turn eighteen!”
“Well that’s amazing! What’s your name, so I know to look for you?”
“Maddie Wartsbaugh”
“Alright Maddie, I’m gonna be rooting for you the whole time! How many years do I have to wait until it’s your turn?”
“Eight, no…Seven years!”
“I’m looking forward to it!”
The younger sister piped up that she would also audition when she turned 18 and we all high-fived. The Grandmother told me that watching the show had become their girls night, and that they were surprised to see that tickets were still available when they bought theirs. By this time, the Mother had returned, and they said they thought they had balcony seats! We were all on cloud 9 the whole show. I couldn’t have asked for better seat mates!

(Maddie is in the pink)

I felt like I was watching dear friends up on that stage. From where I was sitting, you could see them in the wings before the show. They were so excited, and tired, and pumped, and just happy to be living life this way. 
From start to finish, I was blown away.
I don’t think I said much more than, “Wow!” the entire night. (honorable mentions were, “I love this one!” “How are they even real?” “What is life?” and “OH MY GOSH HER FEET.”)


I also found it mildly amusing that my seat was right below the point they spotted their corner. There were even times when the lights were dim that one of the dancer’s eyes met mine, and you know it wasn’t just them staring into the void. Their face changed for a second at the realization that there were real people out there and we all felt something together and this is what dance is all about.


When the show ended, my new friends and I were talking about how great it was. I mean, anyone can say a show is great, but this one literally took everyone’s breath away. 
“I feel like they took us to another level. This was other worldly.”
I agree, Grandmother. I agree.

And that’s what I love about dance. 
It makes you as a dancer feel alive, which in turn makes the audience feel like there is something more to this life. 

There were moments where I would look at the audience, and see what their reaction was. All the faces lit by the glow of the stage lights, captivated by what was before them; art at its finest.
I could hear the dancers breathe from where I sat, which is the sign of a good dancer. To lose yourself in it so much that the timing of your breath matches the movement not only helps you as you dance, but just emotes so much more and takes your dancing to another level. (Zach and Emilio were really good about this. Some of the girls, too.)
I loved that I was close enough to see the humanity of the dancers; the hair pins flying out during their pirouette’s, the glitter shaking off Tanisha’s silver sparkle costume, their freckles, bruises from countless rehearsals and performances, even cellulite. Now, granted, not on everyone. But, honestly, seeing that a top 10 dancer on my favorite dance show ever had cellulite too, and was built like I was, but was still regarded as beautiful and sexy and talented; it did so much for my confidence.
I try to remind myself of how I feel when I would see someone at a recital or in a picture or whatever that was shaped more like me; how it made me feel empowered. And how instead of beating myself up about how genetics shaped me, I wanted to try and face all the voices in my head with dynamics and try not to pick myself apart to much because there’s probably a little girl out there shaped the same way who feels “If she can do it, so can I.” And if there’s just one little girl that feels empowered, it’s more than worth it.

These are real people; normal people. They came from their normal lives, headed to an audition with a dream, and ended up here, doing what they love for thousands of people.
It’s amazing what can happen in a year.
And the fact that they’re real people just doing what they love is what makes me not only love them, but respect them. They are normal people, and they inspire other normal people. And this is what I hope to be like. And I had this worded perfectly in my head at 4:30 this morning as I fell asleep, so bare with me because I’m struggling to remember how it went now.
I know that they already saw 5 other cities worth of people, and that they have tons more ahead. I know that in the city I was attended, I was only one person out of a hundred. But for that moment, for that minute, they looked at me, they spoke to me, they cared about me. They made everything I felt this entire season of dances more real than I could have ever hoped. They connected with me, and I felt like I could do anything. That my point on this earth will be a good one, that I’ll accomplish everything I need to, that I can be that person to someone one day.
I’m going to change the world, I know I am.
And it’s not because I’m any better than anyone else; it’s because I’m not.
Real people need real people to show them it’s okay to be real.
I want to be that person.
And I may not have a huge platform for inspiring, but that’s okay. My life is a platform. And while it’s really nice to know thousands of people love you, it’ll be empty until you can appreciate when it’s just one person. If one person isn’t worth it, than who are you really? Why are you doing what you do? For what cause?
To me, it’s worth the one. It’s worth the people in my little world; because to them, it’s not so little.
And that’s what keeps me going. That’s what inspires me. That’s what makes life worth living.
This life is about people.

Oh yeah!  We totally happened upon the meet and greet by the fact that God loves us and was like, “here ya go!” hah.
We were walking to the parking garage and were trying to find stairs that weren’t congested. In doing so, we ended up on the side of the building we saw the buses.
And there was a group of people.
So we checked it out.
And this lady comes up behind us and says they always come out and talk to the fans that wait out there.
So we waited.
And HOLY CRAP, HOW DID THIS ACTUALLY HAPPEN?

So, here is a recap of my sometimes awkward conversations with these amazing people I got to meet.

When they set up the barricade thing, they asked some of us to fill in the back. Most people were hesitant, but I jumped on it, since it was at the very end. This would either be a great idea, or a horrible one.
Turns out, the cast came out of the other door than where people started lining up.
Ya know, the door I was right next to.

(I swear I’m not a creeper.)

Rudy was the first to come out. I think I was so in shock that this was actually happening, I forgot to get a picture with him. But I did creeper-shot him. The girl next to me told him he smelled good, to which he mentioned they got to shower, to which I said, “Thank you for that.”
That’s right, I thanked him for showering.
Emilee Awkward at it’s finest.

They spread the cast out throughout the line, having some start at our end, and some at the opposite. all the while, the other members were ninjas in getting the the bus to drop off their stuff without being detected.

Next was Teddy, who was one of the ones who caught an obvious eye contact, as he smiled for my camera, which was the only one visible in our section at that time.
He wasn’t top 10, so I asked him to draw himself on the front.
“I’m doing a body roll, because it’s my favorite dance move.”

Classic.

Then Zack came by.
At this point, it’s starting to sink in. He was one of my favorites from auditions, so I was slightly freaking out at the fact he was in front of me. I know we spoke, but I don’t remember about what. He was really nice.

Next, Marquette came through, which from the beginning I swore I knew him from somewhere. So much so, that I actually googled him. Still haven’t figured out why he seems so familiar. When he was talking to the girls next to me (Who were FREAKING OUT, it was adorable) one of them said, “I’m under so much pressure!” to which Marquette and I both sang, “Under Pressure!” at the exact same time. It was quite the moment. We fist bumped. He also drew himself 🙂

Next was Ricky, who was rocking Harry Potter glasses and shorter than I expected. (Which is the sign of a good dancer, fun fact.) He came to me first and was insanely kind. Just happy to be there and hilarious. A friend I made in the line was really excited to meet him, so I don’t remember exactly what we said because I wanted to make sure he didn’t miss out on seeing him.

Tanisha was the first of the girls I got to meet. And let me tell you, she is a gem. I was blown away during the show by how well rounded she really is. They put her in many of the roles that were originally danced by Allstars during the show, and she slaughtered it!
She was rather concerned for the girls next to me that were freaking out. One of them was so in shock she could speak. When she apologized for crying, Tanisha said, “I cry all the time, crying is the most real emotion.” This is something that will stay with me. I told her how amazing it was to see her take on those allstar roles and how she rocked it out there and was like the unspoken force that just came in and blew everyone away. We talked about the drive to Missouri, and how I’m driving to Kansas tomorrow, and she was just so kind. The other half of my friends I made in line got a really hilarious picture of her, too. It was great. She was great. A quality individual, for sure. When she signed Anne’s (the girl who was freaking out) program, she made a comment of how Marquette always signs by her face. I said, “It’s Marqnisha!” Then was all, “wait, what?” And she kinda looked at me, like, “Wait, what?” And I said, “I dunno, I was trying to put your names together. Marqnisha, Tanquette? No, definitely Marqnisha.” She said, “Oh that’s great, I’m gonna pass that one along!”

This was when my camera died. And I was so sad. But my new friends came to the rescue, and Valerie was so patient with me.

Valerie was the one I most looked forward to seeing, since she was my favorite from the beginning, and just so real. That’s what struck me about her. Real people are the best people. Before she got to me, everyone else was freaking out and she would say, “Guys, I’m normal! I’m just a normal person!” and when she got to me, I told her, “I think that’s what makes you so great, you’re a normal person. Thank you for that. Thank you for being who you are.” She was so kind, and hilarious, and sweet. I didn’t pass out or say anything embarrassing, so miracles happen, guys.

Next came Jessica, who I was also really excited to see and was the favorite of the 2nd half of my line buddies. She was also very genuine and kind and real. So refreshing. I told her I loved the songs she danced for her solos, and she told me, “You know what’s crazy is I didn’t even pick “All About That Bass.” I told her I loved that her songs were always encouraging songs, and that it really hit me when she danced to the Beyonce song, “I was here.” It really made a statement. She said, “Girl, I could dance to Beyonce all day!” To which I said, “Man, me too!” She was really warm and kind. Such a gem to meet.

I’ll be honest, I had a hard time telling the difference between Carly and Bridget. This happened all season and as soon as I thought I got it down, I’d mix em up. So I was probably most awkward with her. But man, she handles awkwardness like a champ. She was so kind, strikingly so. (Ps. It’s Bridget.)

Next was Casey. Literally, he came over to me and enveloped me in a giant hug. (The only one to do this. They hugged other people, but I tried to keep my cool and not be a fangirl HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA because I am. But he didn’t care. He wrapped his arms around me like we were old friends, and I just said, “How are you real?” He was really nice and funny and seriously, his face seems like it’s photoshopped. And his hair. How the heck is that real? I dunno. But he was really cool and kind and funny. (growing trend here? whatever.) It was great.

Okay, I was really excited about meeting Jacque, too. She is a ballerina so I automatically connected to her at auditions. I loved what Nigel had to say about her at auditions and his reverence for the art of ballet. (Not to mention, her solo was AMAZING.)  She also reminds me of my friend Rachael, who is the one who inspired me to dance and believed in me when I was too insecure to think it possible. She is seriously the sweetest person ever, and her faces on stage are dynamic. Her technique was spot on and her grace overflowed. Truly an inspiration to meet her. Insert fangirling here.

Last, but definitely not least, was Emily. (Ps. My duo line buddies waited for me to get the picture for me. And Emily almost missed us! But she was super kind and turned back around.) The first thing out of my mouth, “OH MY GOSH, YOUR FEET.” To which she responded, “Oh my gosh, thank you!” Which only dancers could have conversations like that. She was great. I told her how glad I was to hear she was coming on tour, because she was one of my favorites. I thanked her for taking her time out to meet us, to which she was all, “Oh of course!” and happy, ya know? It was so wonderful. I had her draw herself as well. She said, “Oh, I be Marquette started this, huh?” And I told her, “Actually, Teddy did! With his belly roll.” so then she was like, “Oh, it’s on.” And she drew herself with a sweet bun and earrings that looked like hair but we knew it was earrings. It was great.

The only people we didn’t get to meet were Carly and Emilio. Emily said that Carly wasn’t feeling well (which is amazing, because she danced impeccably well. But her ankle was wrapped, so I’m sure that was hurting her.) and Emilio was having dinner with his family. Because, ya know, he’s from Houston (:D) So that was okay.
All throughout the makeshift meet and greet, I would have moments of realization of “Oh my gosh, this is happening. Right now. It’s still happening.” And would freak out at “How the heck does this happen? This never happens to me. Ever.” And I was so grateful for the lady and her daughter who told us they always do the meet and greets if you know where to go and they take time out to meet everyone and take pictures. And I was even more grateful to Natalia’s mom for letting us stay, even though it meant getting back to Corpus at 3:07am.

Best night of my life. Seriously.
Words can’t describe what all that evening meant to me.
It felt so real. I felt so alive. It made me want to dance even more, and mad that my ankle is still messed up and I have work, but then happy that I’m alive and have the little life I do.
And I doubt any of them will remember me, (except maybe Tanisha. Ya know, Marqnisha.) But that’s okay. Because for that moment, they knew who I was. They may not have known my name, but they heard my stories and held conversation. Those are the moments that you know will stay with them as a whole, and stay with you. And that’s a beautiful thing.

I’m on cloud 9.

Edit: Upon re-reading this, I must apologize for the umpteen million typos laced throughout. I was clearly excited and wasn’t proof-reading. Oops.

Bailando Pictures!

Here are a few of the pictures I took during the Bailando Dance Festival master classes I wrote about in the previous blog 🙂

Dancers in Susan Trevino’s ballet class.

Dancer’s in Alexis Anderson’s Lyrical class. (I think.)

Dancers in  Orlando Canova of Ballet Austin’s class

Alexis Anderson in Dana Nicolay’s ballet class.
I believe this was   Walter Hull’s class.

Orlando Canova’s class

Dana Nicolay correcting a dancer

Wilgene David’s Hip-Hop class.
(Those two in front are from my old studio 🙂 )

I may post some performance pictures later. Not sure when I’ll have time since I’m getting home after midnight tonight and leave for Kansas on Wednesday. We’ll see if I have time tomorrow. Stay Tuned!