A post.

I’ve toyed around with the idea of even posting this post.
Part of me feels like it’s pointless since what I really feel and want to say isn’t something I should put onto such a public platform, even though it’s something I’m very passionate about. Sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut, sit back, and pray everything sorts itself out. Sometimes speaking only makes things worse.

Part of me want’s to say, “screw it” and say it anyway. But that probably isn’t the wisest thing in the world.

Part of me wants to stay silent. Since speaking about things like this rarely gets accurate intentions across and it can just make you look like crap or people feel bad for you or whatever. Sometimes staying silent and fading into the background is so much easier.
Sadly this seems to be a luxury I can’t afford.
I love people, I really do.
But sometimes I just don’t have enough for myself, let alone other people.
This is one of those times.

Although sometimes helping other people can bring you out of a funk like this–or at least ease a bit of it–things have gotten extreme enough to where that’s not the case so much.
(Except very rarely and for very specific people, anyway.)
(Lookin’ at you, Valerie. Thanks for being awesome. Always down to help y’all in class.)

Thankfully, I’ve somehow found myself with a few incredibly selfless people in my life that I get to call friends.They’re the real MVP’s.

So I’m writing this post, because even though yesterday seemed to go to hell in a handbasket, there were a few things I wanted to note. Because what the heck this never happens.

I did my first solid double. Not en pointe, but whatever. I was trying, but not really, and it just happened. I wasn’t thinking, that’s for sure, and that’s probably why I was able to do it. And as soon as I realized what had happened, I could hear sweet Ileana behind me, “*Gasp!* Yay Emilee!” Which meant more to me than I could ever express. Sometimes I feel so very alone in classes, and that made me realize that I have these friends among me pulling for me, cheering for me to succeed. Celebrating when I do.
The next turn, however, was ridiculous to where I even stopped and pointed at my foot and said, “What are you doing?!” before I realized that I was indeed still in the classroom and in the middle of a combination. Oh well.

The next thing was how I seem to suck at jete’s, even though I’m built to be a jumper (thanks, stupid uneven hips) but managed to somehow do one that kinda actually got off the ground. Enough to where someone else noticed it and commented. I’ve come to terms with the fact that people don’t typically watch me. I don’t think about it, I don’t really concern myself with it. But it’s nice when you aren’t sure if you did something correctly or want to know if you improved to know that you have someone to bounce stuff off. And when it mattered yesterday, people were.

Things are still weird. Life is still hard. There’s still plenty that doesn’t make sense and many, many things I wish I could fix or change or even just say. But amongst all the crap, there’s still a bright spot here and there. And it’s nice to remember them.

Limit yourself. 

I deal with perpetual depression and anxiety. 

Now that that is out of the way. 

I woke up this morning pretty panicky. For no good reason, but I couldn’t shake it. All I wanted to do was dance, but deep down I was nervous that dance might make it worse. (Probably me jumping to worst case scenario there. Typical.) I tried to go into the class day with an open mind and giving myself room for faults. 

Ballet went fairly well. I was able to hold a few balances I usually suck at and do the fouetté prep at the barre I used to really do terribly. We got to center and I still struggled a bit with balancing but was able to see little bits of improvement here and there. Overall, it wasn’t bad. I appreciated that she gave us combinations that were easy on the brain but still challenging our bodies. I think that helped make it better. 

Jazz-but-really-lyrical class went fine. Not all the girls were there so we still haven’t changed it up to the final way we’re gonna have it yet, but the new girls that have added on are doing well. They retain the choreography, which is super great. Ms Heidi said she might pull me and either Savanna or Valerie to be another duo, or separate singles–she’s still playing with ideas–and one of them sort of play off Ileana. 

As we were standing there while she was figuring out a part for another group, my mind began to wander as it does. I was watching Ileana and wondering what I would do if I was having to sort of mirror her. 

And it hit me. 

This terrible wave of whatever you want to call it that I hadn’t felt in a good long while. 

I thought of being in the audience, watching this piece, it being she and me, and thinking, “that one girl is so good and absolutely gorgeous. Shame they paired her with the bigger girl, she’s not as good I kinda feel bad.” 

It’s a dialog I’m sure I’ve heard said of someone on a stage once somewhere. And it’s probably part of the subconscious that stuck in my head growing up and lead me to make decisions I made that lead me to stop eating until I was really thin because I was terrified I would be that person. The “bigger girl” that was seen as a terrible thing. As lesser. As not enough. 

And I realized that I would be that should Ileana and I be paired.

And I realized that there are bits in Julie’s recital piece that I am that. 

And I realized that at some point my perspective had changed from that negative way of thinking to one of what-can-I-achieve-if-I-work-hard. 

But still I found myself standing there tonight with a different kind of panic. What would I do? I can’t lose any more weight than I have. I’m doing my best to improve with the hand life dealt me. How can I not be “that girl” ?

I told myself I couldn’t think that way. Tried to push it out of my mind. 

Mere minutes later, the newest new girl and I were learning a bit we had just been shown. I didn’t really know what I was doing but was trying to decode the struggle, so to speak, and she looked at me and said, “man you’re really good. Like, you’re so talented. I know I’m new and all, but I hope I can be as good as you.” 

In my head I said, “are you blind? Like. I can’t do anything she’s asking us to do. I’m trying not to panic because I know I can’t do a firebird or a leap in second. I’ve never tried them. I’m gonna look a hot mess, and if I can’t do it how am I gonna teach you to do it? I’m terrible. I’m new to this class and much of it is way over my head. Have you seen me? I’m not exactly the dancer type.” But instead I replied with, “thank you!” 

She didn’t have to say that. She could have kept it to herself. Sure, it’s safe to say the entire class is better than me in skill, but whose to say I’m not good in my own right? She didn’t see me as the “bigger girl in the class full of skinny, good girls.” She saw me as “talented.” 

*mind blows* 

I may still struggle. 

I may feel like I don’t really do anything right. 

I may feel like I’m just a 5 year old playing a giant game of pretend and all the adults just think “aww how cute” cause it’s cute when a 5 year old makes a fool of themself.  

I may feel like I keep missing out on roles and parts and accomplishments because I must just not be good enough. 

I may feel like I don’t have enough time to get to “enough.” 

But to her, I was enough. I was the “goals.” I was talented. I was the one to be like. 
Who am I to limit myself with my own judgements?

Swan rehearsal and fitting

This morning I woke up feeling anxious. 

I couldn’t shake it. One of the girls even mentioned before barre that I didn’t seem myself.  I found myself fighting off panic attacks at the barre and it only escalated into rehearsal. 

I bit my lip until it cracked and dug my nails into my side until someone distracted me with a question. Thankfully. Because I’m sure I would have broken skin without even thinking. 

That’s something people don’t know or realize about me, I guess. The darkness of my past. It typically stays there, but sometimes it can creep back into the present and the fight is exhausting. 

Today was one of those days. 

Only one girl wasn’t there, and another one wasn’t feeling well so she sat out. Ms Munro had girls who hadn’t run it go in so I was marking it from the sidelines. It wasn’t all that bad, like no worse than usual at least. Part of me was grateful to not have to be “on” but the other part of me knows that I don’t have the luxury of getting to be off. Not right now. 

I really appreciated one of the moms coming up and encouraging me. I had really gotten inside my head at that point. Why am I here? Why do I even try? What is the point of it all if I work my hardest and nothing comes of it? Who am I kidding? If I’m not good enough now what makes me think I will be later? Whose to say I’ll even have a later? I was so beyond frustrated and I hated myself for it. The battle was real, and the “dark place” was rampant. But she came up and encouraged me without even realizing what she was doing. Well, part of it I’m sure she did. But really, I was so grateful.

I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want to be upset or frustrated or bitter or anything. I just want to dance. 

After that point, I stood there and asked myself some questions. 

Why am I upset? Because I didn’t get to be a swan. 

Yeah but you’re still in Swan Lake. Yeah, but I wanted to be good enough to be this role. 

Okay but you can’t change anything now. So what are you going to do about it? Well. I’m gonna work hard and do my best. 

Cause really. Why am I here? What drives me to show up every day, even if I’m not a swan? I do it because I love dance, I love the art form. I love getting to be here and try new things and learn and grow. And aren’t I getting to do that still? 

I get out of this what I put into it. And sure it sucks that some of the other girls don’t even bother to show up or put in effort. But Mrs Alex is right–I’d rather be a good person than a stellar dancer. At least dance is something you can work to improve upon. 

So it can really suck being a cover. It’s hard and exhausting and really emotional. But it’s what I am. It’s what I signed up for. And I made a commitment. I don’t want to go back on that just because the cards didn’t fall in my favor. That would be immature. Now my goal is to be the one they can count on. To do everything I can to know the parts so I can be relied upon should anything happen. I want to put a good taste in their mouth, make their jobs easier. 

Even if I don’t get to dance swan, I can still tell them a lot of my character by my actions. 

They had swan fittings after. We didn’t have to be there but I was to wait for my friend who is a swan. It was cool getting to see them all together. The costumes are gorgeous. I really am proud of how good it’s looking and how well they’re really coming together. I got to actually watch it today. It’s really neat. 

   
    
    
   
A few of my friends 😊

Here’s a few before class. 

   
   

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)

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.

First Flowers Rehearsal

I managed to luck out, I guess, and not have rehearsal until yesterday giving me an extra weekend to do things I needed to.
I was expecting Flowers to be really chaotic and stressful. I had heard that it was always a bit of madness and confusion. This made me nervous, especially since I’m pretty burned out as it is. I didn’t know how quickly I’d break or how much I’d be able to take.

During warm up, we started off with push-ups. I am absolutely terrible at them, to the point where I typically avoid them out of embarrassment. I didn’t even remember this was a thing for a while, until I started noticing the pattern. Then I remembered being teased as a kid. I remembered my shortcomings. I remembered how my hardest has never been enough.
I remembered.
But as we began yesterday, I didn’t think twice about doing them until I was 2 push-ups in. And I realized I was actually doing them. And I remembered how I’m not sick anymore, and how much more my body has been able to do already. So I tried to do them all, and as my face got closer to the floor, right before I pushed it back up with the rest of my body, I thought, “I’m so grateful I can do push-ups.” The girls next to me were giving up, pretending to do them on their knees. They’re fully capable if they apply themselves. Their bodies are well. And then I remembered that mine is too, now, for the most part. That I should do these things since I am able. How precious something as simple and complex as a push-up is. What a privilege it is that I can even do these.
And I did them.
Every last one of them.
And I feel it this morning and it makes me so happy.

As we proceeded to the barre, I noticed my brain being sort of spaced. Not in the typical cloudy way, but in a way that there was just nothing there. I also noticed that I held my balances in places I usually can’t and longer in other places. So that was nice.

There were a few changes in casting. A person dropped here, another injured there. After the dust settled, Ileana got moved up to Lilacs (!!!!!!!!) and Catherine, Isabel, and Maddie didn’t have to share anymore. (I don’t think Sheridan was sharing before? If she was, she isn’t either.) I can’t express how proud I am of these girls. They work so hard and it’s showing. Ileana has that “it” that comes together to form the ideal dancer. I love getting to be there to watch her as she grows class after class. She is so elegant without even trying–it’s just in her. So to see her get moved up, my heart about exploded.
Same for the girls that don’t have to share anymore. They really proved themselves. These are also the girls who pay attention in class and work hard every day. They’re the ones that go home and practice and give it their all when they’re here. They’re on the verge of greatness, and I’m so excited for them! My babies are growing up!

They started with Roses, since they come out first, then us Petite Fleurs. When they worked with us, Jolene helped with the specifics of it. She was a Petite Fleur last year and remembered it really well. It was really nice having her there to help. She was able to answer my questions on details and helped me feel more confident about what I was doing rather than just fumbling around. I think this was pivotal in helping me not panic. We picked it up fairly decently and were able to learn quite a bit. I really like it and am excited the more we learn. It’s not out of my depth, so I can do everything without fear. (Though I almost rolled my ankle twice yesterday? whatever.) I even get to be in the front for this back cambre thing we do. Not that we’ll be seen all that well, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

I’m excited, too, because this music is easy to count. Although, there was a point or two where Ms. M said I was the only one on the counts. Abarrane saw it, too, and tole me I was the only one who looked like they knew what they were doing. Not sure why this tends to happen, but I’m confident the girls will do just fine when they’ve had a little more practice.
Annika said some really nice things to me afterwards.

So that made me feel really good…
I may not be where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way.
I really need to sew my new pointe shoes, but I don’t know when I’m going to have time. I should have brought them today, but I didn’t think about it. Emerson said she could sew them since she can’t dance with the boot and she’s so bored. I told her I’d trade her head shots for it. So if I can get them to her, that would be great.
I’m excited for class tonight, even with my dead shoes and stupid longer leg. 
I got the email telling about company head shots and jackets (finally!) so that’s exciting. We have program pictures next week, but I’m not sure what times I’m to be there yet.
I really need to re-find my camera cards from Europe so I can clean them off and have them available for shoots… I can’t wait until I’m not perpetually moving in anymore. Slowly but surely, I guess.
My right leg is all sorts of sore this morning. Which is great, except that it’s the leg that’s already stronger anyway. I guess I really engaged my muscles during rehearsal yesterday, haha!
I think I’m going to drop Thursday’s class and stay the extra class on Tuesday’s. That way I have a day of the week to hopefully get stuff done since I don’t have Friday’s now. Plus I seem to be gone on Thursdays pretty often. Meh. 

Conviction

Yesterday I figured out the source of what caused the weirdness this week, causing me to go into class in a sort of state of determination.
I have this one life, I have this day, and I could be dead in the ground but I’m not. I’m here, at this studio, with these people I love doing what I love. This could all change in a heartbeat. But it’s here. It’s mine. I have today.

We ran our recital piece and I really tried to focus on giving it my all and implementing the corrections I had been given before. I straightened that leg, I let my head follow my arms, I took deeper plies, I made sure I was croise and not flat, etc etc. And I felt this difference, this shift almost. I felt like the dancers I look up to look to me. It felt light and magical. I don’t know how to explain it.
I felt more alive than I have in a long time.

Our piece consists of four groups that are four different colors. We decided to run it group by group and watch each other. I loved this idea and it was a great way to make sure everyone knows their cues without watching everyone else. (One in my group was one of the worst culprits of this…)
My group went first since we’re the tallest, and we went down the line from there.
It was really neat to see it all separate. I’m in the dance, and I see it from my perspective, but you don’t really realize how different the dance is for each person. Their cues and timing are completely different from mine. Their combinations are different. It’s four different dances coming together and complimenting each other. It’s beautiful.

As the group after us went, I found myself unable to take my eyes off of one of the dancers. I tried looking at all of them since they are all my friends, but the front girl captivated my attention.
The most advanced dancer in our class is in our group, and next to this other girl, and when I took a step back to compare the two next to each other, she was giving her a run for her money.
But looking at her, you may not think it. She has this gentle temperament and is so kind that you may not expect this out of her. But once you watch her, there is no mistaking.
Every ounce of her being was invested into this dance. She danced with such passion and conviction that I was brought to tears within the first 10 seconds. (And literally all they do is run in and pose in an arabesque)
She has that quality that sets dancers apart. That little bit that takes it from a pretty dance to a beautiful masterpiece. And to watch these girls as they did their part that was opposite of ours, I could see how they danced for the betterment of the entire group rather than just theirs. They danced for the beauty of the piece as a whole, not to stand out and be impressive. Their quiet, gentle beauty spoke volumes and their dancing left me feeling something.

I was at a loss for words.

When it was all said and done, we went into the bigger studio to run the piece a few times. Since this girl leads her line, and I’m the last in ours, we were next to each other. I whispered to her how she brought me to tears and is such a beautiful dancer. She was shocked, like she never expected to evoke such emotions in a person. She’s just going about her day doing what’s normal for her in the dance class and it’s enough to make me have to choke back tears.
You can see that she will go far.
She holds so much potential.
Matched with her beautiful soul, I personally can’t wait to see where all she goes from here.

It’s an honor to get to dance alongside her and watch her grow into the dancer she will become.