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?

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Beginnings

It is clear that learning a part as complex as the Swan corps is way more difficult as a cover than as an actual swan. I sometimes find myself wondering if the girls know how lucky they truly are to have their place set and sure, not having to worry about what the other groups are doing.
I was Abarrane for part of the rehearsal Saturday since she had ACT testing in the morning. It wasn’t too difficult, since she was the opposite of Adrienne, except for the bits I couldn’t remember. Oops.
But that’s okay. We got it fixed and worked out and all is well.
When Abarrane got there, I tried to watch for the people I know will be out coming up, and it got complicated. They are each something different. Then I come to the realization that even being this proactive won’t guarantee I’ll get the spot if someone drops. It could be a matter of height. These other covers are dedicated to learning it as well.

Instead of being overcome by bitterness, fear, and jealousy, I approached the girls with an idea: Let’s for some kind of group as the covers to make sure we enjoy this instead of just sitting on the sidelines sad. “Let’s be so cool the other girls wished they were us.” Haha.
Catherine and Maddie came up with a clever name–The Ugly Ducklings.
In the story, the ugly duckling tries so hard to be like the swans he sees, but just can’t be. (Until he grows up and realizes he was a wan all along, just needed a little growth.)
We want to make shirts. It’s gonna be great.
The girls are excited about it, as am I. We even have a fun little hand sign thing.
It still stings a bit to not be a swan. Seeing and hearing the other girls get so excited for costume fittings and photo day and all, knowing I just have to watch from the sidelines again. But it is what it is. There’s nothing we can do about it.

Instead, I had Ms. Heidi look at my shoes, and asked her what she thought. I’ve been told I don’t pull out of my shoe, but I don’t know what else to do to be better about that. She was able to explain what I need to think about, and give me some things to try at home to help me get better. It’ll take time, but if I start now it’ll be very beneficial.

In her Jazz/Lyrical class, we had a new girl, Valerie. She paired her with me since my partner wasn’t there to work on recital. I taught her our bit and we did it side by side instead of mirrored. I had no idea that the only dance training she had was dance class in high school. She took the adult ballet and said it was really fast, but she wanted to dance so she’s gonna stick with it. She really liked the Lyrical class, which was good. She picked things up really well and was able to just go with it, even though she didn’t know what half the stuff was. I was really impressed. She told me how she wished she would have started dancing younger, but was excited to start now. She’s from Austin, and down here for school. She seems like a great person, and it was fun to actually have someone in the class understand my cultural references from when I was a kid. (Lookin’ at you, Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century.)
Valerie is going to do recital, so Heidi was trying to think of how to work with the new numbers. She might have Valerie take my spot, and teach me a new thing entirely, thinking it may be easier to learn since I won’t be here a lot from work coming up. Which is exciting, but also a bit nerve wracking.

It was refreshing having Valerie in class. It reminded me of what I felt when I first started–that bit that can get lost in all the striving and stress. I still have a ways to go, and loads to learn, but I’ve come so far from that first anxiety-ridden day. And it’s not all about hitting one certain goal, it’s about the process. It’s about every day, working hard–not just one show or role. It’s about being better today than I was yesterday. If I can do that, I am successful.

(Repeat to myself when I’m starting to feel the sting again.)

New semester

Classes have started back up for the new semester.
Our first class, the V’s class, was taught by Ms. Munro since our normal teacher wasn’t there.
I really liked this. I love a good Ms. M class.
She didn’t go easy on us, which was good. She corrected my arm placement, which I’ve now been trying to be conscious about. It also made me feel good to know I’m seen. That something subtle and slight is noticed and fixed. Now it’s my job to make sure she doesn’t have to correct it again.

We did pointe, which had a few elements that I normally would get nervous over or avoid. I was unable to do some of them, but not without trying first. Partially was because my shoes are nearing death, so I didn’t want to risk the rolled ankle before auditions. I didn’t walk away from it afraid of these steps, though, so that is a big step for me.
Also, when it came to doing pirouettes, I was actually able to get around. Ms. M wanted doubles, but I was very satisfied in my solid single for now. It can do with improvement, and I definitely need to spot my head more, and get a better plie, but it’s a vast improvement from what I am typically capable of. I will take it, and work harder to make it better.

I seemed to mess up many things that shouldn’t have been difficult, but I just brushed it off. No sense getting worked up over something I know that I can do. It’s whatever.

Ms. Heidi’s class felt really good. We started working with some ideas she’s playing with for recital, and I was excited to see what she’s got going. I was nervous, but I think it has a lot of potential. I wish it could just be the girls that were in class on Monday–the ones who are always there. The piece would look so clean that way. But I know that’s out of our control.
It felt good to let go and try new things. That’s my favorite; when I can let go and just dance. Not think about specifics or how technical it is or if I’m enough. Just dancing because I like to do it. And not being judged on how bad or good I am. I don’t have anyone to impress or anything to prove.

Yesterday’s VI’s class went fairly well, too. My stomach is doing it’s typical hating me ritual, which really puts a damper on things. I tried to push through anyway, and thankfully didn’t have to sit anything more out than I usually would because of my knees. And even so, I’m able to watch those things and mark them and try to sort them out in my head so if I ever do have to do them, I can at least have some grasp of it to be able to attempt.

We started working on recital, which is super exciting. It’s a bit of a stretch for me, as I typically screw up a lot in the beginning of things. But once I have it down, I nail it. So I did my best, wrote down what we learned, and plan to go over it until I have it on the right count and my lines look good.

(I am so excited to be in this piece.)

Instead of working in the small studio, I watched the Advanced Jazz class. It was really cool to get to see them work on something that isn’t so technical. The girls in that class have a lot of talent, some I never really noticed before. But gosh, is it evident now. It made me want to just take a million pictures and capture what I see.
It was cool as well to watch Julie as she came up with all of this. Seeing her mind process and these sections of the dance come to life. Watching a master at work.
I sat there, watching and thinking, “I wish I could do that.” And it was then that I realized, “This is exactly what I do with words.” Whether its words people ever see or not, it’s the same process. My grammar may not always be perfect and sometimes I really like run-on sentences, but the concept is the same.

Words are my dance.

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.

"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.