Also

Ms. Munro spoke to me yesterday.
Asked me if I was okay. Asked how my knees were, mentioned how I never do jumps.
I explained why I didn’t do them in class, but how I still marked and learned and can do them if needed. How in such a fast paced environment I tend to forget the details I need to think about and hurt my knees. I explained how the right leg is longer, how my back is curved, and how I have the calcified whiplash. I told her in choreography, I’m fine, because I can think about it. I can work specifically on something and know how to avoid injury.

She told me I should be very proud of how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. She asked how long I’ve been en pointe, and said that these other girls have just been on longer.
She asked me to pointe my foot, so I did, and she said I had really good arches, and I need to lift out of my shoe more. That I need to build the strength so I don’t sink.

I wish someone had told me this sooner.
I had heard whims of this, but never definite. It wasn’t anything concrete. I do stuff with the theraband, but I wish I had known to dedicate to this. That this is what they were looking for.

I can’t change the past, but I can move forward to the future.
I am still the cover, which means I still have a shot, even if it’s not the way I had hoped.
Even if it sucks.
Even if I feel like complete crap and a failure and like I must suck to get the roles I got, since I’m not even with my level.

I can’t change the past.
So I’m going to work like hell on what I now know to do. I’m going to press forward with fierce determination, and hope someone doesn’t show up enough and they actually follow through with replacing them. I’m going to show them I can do it. Because nothing would be worse than feeling all these things, getting to do the part, and finding that I can’t do it.

Tuesday’s after ballet will be dedicated to building strength.
I can’t let myself be afraid of my knee hurting, instead I must train it to go in the right direction.
I’m going to speak to teachers about how to better focus on gaining this strength, what to do with my shoes to help them last longer, and if I should start doing jumps in class or if it would do more damage than good. (I also don’t grande plie for this reason. My knees haven’t hurt since, even with choreography.) (I also don’t have to wear the brace any more.)

So if they can see the improvement in all my other efforts, I’m going to keep up with that til they see these.

Positives:

  • Ms. M complimented my musicality, asking if I played an instrument. I have not
  • She said I have come a very long way for the short amount of time I have been dancing
  • She said that I did really well in the Winkie Guard role last year and carried the other dancers, specifically with my ability to count and acting skills
  • She said I have really arched feet (I’m taking it as a compliment)

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.

The final bow of Nutcracker 2015

Sunday marked our final show of The Nutcracker for our 2015 season.

Cue tears.

For some reason, after Saturday’s show, I felt so good about going into Sunday. I didn’t know why, but my confidence was soaring. I guess maybe I finally felt confident in what I was doing–possibly because I had done it before already?–or maybe it was because it was the last show. I don’t know.

At warm up, the day started off well when I saw my favorite teacher, Ms. Lori. She moved to Austin and teaches up there, but came down to see us on Saturday and Sunday. She is so freaking wonderful; the type of person you can hope to be. She really teaches in a way where you learn something every class, and meets you where you are but doesn’t leave you there. You’re better after being with her.

Warm-up also started off really well, particularly due to the freaking awesome Rat Queen/Maid presents a la Andie.

We all wore them during warm-up, and Jessica and I proceeded to zoom around like we were superman.
It was so much fun, and really helped me to keep up my moral, and not give up from feeling sick.
(Why is that so common on show days?)
Julie did our warm-up, which included a really good stretch. Mariela and the fellow Insteppers and I know it as the Joffrey Stretch, but they call it something else. As we did it, (bring the leg up to passe, grab the heel and extend out, bring it out to second and get a good stretch) a few girls at the barre next to me all freaked out at the same time over how high my leg was. It was really funny. Their eyes got really big and they said things like, “Dang, Emilee!” I didn’t really realize how high it was until they commented. It felt so good, and really shocked me, because it was really high.
Later, we did grand battements in center, and again my leg decided that was the day to go super high. I was able to maintain control and turn out while doing this as well. It felt really good.
Turns sucked, but I laughed about it. Jetes were really fun since we were wearing capes; it made us look like we were flying.
I got ready for the show and came downstairs with my camera, as usual. Jessica and I had our capes on to get pictures in costume (see above.) Ms. Munro saw us and asked me, “Are you wearing that on stage?”
I looked at her, because she didn’t say it like, “You’re not wearing that on stage, are you?” But rather like someone had a really good suggestion and we just hadn’t told her yet or something. I looked at her and asked, “I mean, can I?” She commented on how cute it was and said she thought it would be great and, “Let’s ask Alex!” Mrs. Alex came over and Ms. Munro asked her, to which she said, “I think it’s cute, and it goes with the costume. I don’t see why not!” 
I GOT TO WEAR THE CAPE.
Now I felt really empowered. Like a security blanket of sorts. No matter what happened on stage, I was wearing a cape and therefore immune to disaster. 
Jessica helped me pin it so it wouldn’t fall off in partnering, just in case, but we had to pin it over the Rat head. This made things a bit tight, but it worked. The partnering bit went alright, I probably could have been a bit more solid, but Sean is a rockstar and makes me look so good. 
My shoe came off in the jetes again, but my ribbons were tied well (thanks Elizabeth) so the shoe just came off the heel and stayed on enough to get through. 

(Lillian got these gems of the incident.)
(Thanks Lillian 🙂 )
I didn’t forget anything, and was even able to grab the cannon ball, which I heard Ms. Munro praise from the wings. This made me feel really good and like I actually succeeded in the role, rather than just merely getting by. 
When we finished, Ms. Munro commented on how good the cape looked on stage. I said, “it made me feel like I could fly in my jetes!” To which she responded, “You did fly!” 
My eyes went something like this O.O
My mind is blown. I never expected her to say that. ahh!!
After the scene ended, we stayed in costume to get pictures with my sweet mouse, Addison, and my rat family

Colin had to go to the bathroom, so he missed the family portrait.
It’s funny how you can tell which rat is which, even with heads on.
Addison was the mouse we picked up and carried. She is an absolute sweetheart!
It was really difficult coming off stage and not being able to take the head off and breathe. Remember, the cape was safety pinned over the head, so I had to keep myself from panicking at the fact I couldn’t get air. Greyson saved me, though, after a few minutes. All was well.
(definitely worth it.)
The rest of the show went smoothly, except it seemed to be the day everyone slipped. A Chinese, our Sugar Plum, even Clara, mostly in the the same spot on the stage. They recovered extremely well, though, and no one remembered it even happened. Signs of a true professional.
Flowers went well, also. I was able to get nail the corrections I had been given, and Isabel and I got the timing right on the finale, so I felt really successful overall.

(I can’t remember how to get this to rotate, but my sister took it from the audience 😀 )
I don’t know exactly what it was about this season, but now that it’s over, my heart feels so extremely full from having lived it.
I wouldn’t have expected this in the beginning, seeing how there seemed to be more drama than usual and everyone kept getting sick and hurt. But it turned out to be one of my absolute favorite memories.
It’s probably due largely to the people.
I have realized, now more than ever, that I have such wonderful, incredible people in my life.
Those that encourage me, celebrate with me, listen to me vent. Those that are kind and loving and fun. They make this experience something I cherish. Without them, it would just be us going through the motions.
Dance friends really are the best friends, and basking in this after show glow is my favorite thing right now. My fellow dancers are what make this what it is. From the youngest cherub to the oldest company member, I couldn’t be more grateful. 
It’s also heart warming to have friends who support you and come to watch. 
I wish I could express what it means, but words fail me.
My heart is so full.
Now, friendship isn’t about gifts, but I did receive some from cherished friends that really hit my heart. Every single one of them means more to me than I could ever say. They really didn’t have to do that, yet they took the time out to think of me and choose to do something for me to make me feel special. And it did. It really did.
What a wonderful season of memories, growth, and hard work.
Until next year!

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.

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.

Hey, remember that one time? (SYTYCD)

If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll remember my obsession with So You Think You Can Dance last year.
You’ll remember how I last minute got to go to the tour in San Antonio and accidentally happened to meet them.
I grew up in a small town that’s only now starting to grow a bit to where some artists will stop there. And even then, some find it still too small and will cancel shows because of it. Houston and Dallas were just to far of a drive for my parents to justify so we never had the opportunity to go to things like this.
Last year, I made it a point to do all the things I never got to do and had found myself making excuses about in the name of adult responsibility.
(Pro tip: Screw that.)
I filled my year with incredible experiences and adventure, beginning with winning the pointe shoe fitting contest that literally changed my dancing “career,” followed by last year’s SYTYCD tour, and rounding out in July with a trip to Europe (that I’m still paying off but oh my gosh worth it.) (Guys. Harry Potter Studio Tour.)
(anyway)
Things got pretty overwhelmingly busy in my life, and I wasn’t able to follow this season as closely as I wanted to. Jackie (my best friend) would DVR them for me, so I got to see two episodes one day when I was able to drive the 45 minutes to see her, but the rest of them time was too tight. (sad. day.)
I figured maybe it was a good thing–I wouldn’t get emotionally attached to this season and be sad when I wouldn’t be able to go to the tour because really how would that ever happen twice, right?
Still, I followed along on social media: following my favorites from last season that made it through this season, looking up the social media accounts of the dancers everyone was buzzing about, a dance clip here and there when I had a spare minute.

Fast forward to last week.

This is Judy. She is one of the sweet 12-year-olds I met last year’s Nutcracker when she was an 11-year-old. It was my first season with this new studio attached to this company and I wasn’t hip to the groove with the older kids (yes, hi, I talk like a grandpa sometimes) but I love the younger ones anyway so it was a great time. We took a few classes together this summer when they combined levels and I found it to be very encouraging. (Why would I be afraid when the 11-year-old next to me wasn’t, right?) I’ve really seen her grow a lot here recently, especially this summer, and she shows so much promise for the future. Her love for dance is really developing and she’s dedicating herself more than ever before.
Her Mom is a sweet lady who helps me unknot my yarn when it gets crazy while I’m crocheting (I’m 87 I swear) and is overall a kind lady. She’s invited me along to pointe shoe fittings (which sadly I wasn’t able to attend) and overall very inclusive, which I find to be so very kind and wonderful.
For Judy’s birthday, her Mom wanted to take her to a concert she had been dying to see. Unfortunately, Mom ended up in the hospital and had to have surgery. Judy was such a sport through it all (she is seriously such a great kid) which really touched her mom’s heart. Judy has gotten all A’s, and usually for a reward for an A, she gets $10 per A. (My parents did the same thing. Totally works.) This time her Mom wanted to give her something extra for all her hard work and understanding as well as helping her Mom through this tough time. The kicker? She still can’t move her neck enough to drive to San Antonio.
Last week, Mom approached me and asked if I had driven to San Antonio by myself before (she is so considerate) and if I’d be willing to take Judy to SYTYCD. She said she’d buy my ticket and help with gas, and told me her heart in the matter.
Words can’t describe how honored I was that she would trust me with her sweet girl. That she thought of me, and offered to pay my way as well. I checked my schedule, considered the dance class I would miss, and agreed. (I mean, so hard, right?) (My teacher is out of town and it’s the class I’m probably going to switch around anyway.)
She told Judy, got the tickets, and we counted down the days this last week on instagram in excited anticipation.

Little did Judy know that I had insight from last year that would *hopefully* get us to meet them this year.
(And Mom was okay if we came back at 2:30 in the morning.)
(hehehehe)

We head out after she gets out of school and I get off work yesterday. GPS was being weird and got us a bit turned around, but nothing substantial. We laughed it off with a “remember the time we went the wrong way as soon as we left for SYTYCD?”
We worked on her math, science, and art homework and by the time she finished we were nearly there. We talked excitedly of dance and how cool it was that we were getting to go. I love this kid.

When we arrived, I pointed out the side street near the parking garage.
“See those buses? Those are theirs.  And after the show, if we wait by them, usually they come out and say hi.”
She. Was. Elated.
We got into the parking garage, took the elevator down to the ground floor, and entered the Majestic.
As we waited to show our tickets, an usher said, “Ladies and Gentlemen! Photography is allowed as long as there is no flash.” To which I said, “Can you imagine the pictures I could have gotten with my big camera had I know?!” (Seriously, though. They would have been poster worthy, and not because I’m awesome. We. Were. That. Close.) Judy said, “You could get a picture of Gaby’s feet!” (They’re impressive, y’all.)
We gave our tickets to the lady and she scans them, as she does Judy’s, she says to her, “Are you a dancer?” Judy answered, “Yes.” and the lady said, “You hold yourself like one!”
HELLO HUGE COMPLIMENT
I’m absolutely beaming in pride. Someone we don’t know saw in Judy what I can see in her. That part that is starting to show and just needs a little bit more to fully come out. Her untapped potential. Judy was so flattered.
We get in line at the merch table and start really getting excited. As we checked out, the lady that helped Judy asked if we were sisters. I said, “Not technically, but basically.” Because really, close enough. The lady said, “You two favor each other!”
HELLO HUGE COMPLIMENT AGAIN.
We hadn’t even made it to our seats and we’re already so happy.

We show the usher lady our tickets (oh, ps, a lovely usher lady pointed us kindly in a shortcut part of the merch line. I think Judy’s red hair was luck for us) and she tells us it’s all the way down towards the front and to the right. (aka, center)
We were in Row C, seats 115 and 113.
Ya know, third row in the center.
What. Is. Life.
We’re so flipping excited it’s insane.

We looked at our programs, and I asked her to point out her favorites and had her school me on who everyone was. She explained how the Street Vs. Stage went this year and who was which team.

The show began.
(Keep in mind these are on my cell phone… If I had my pro camera, they’d be legit. But honestly, I’m kinda glad I didn’t. You can see the raw moments in these blurry photos. They may not be poster worthy, but they do my heart good. Therefore, they are fab.)

My mind is completely blown.

Last year, I went into it knowing what dances to expect and with hopes of which of my favorites I would see. I knew everyone’s name and could point them out easily. I knew which dance was which by the first 3 seconds in (if that) and the whole thing was a wild ride. This time, coming in not knowing really who can do what or which dances were done this season (except for one I saw in a clip) proved a very different experience. A wonderful one.
There were surprises around every turn, dance moves I didn’t even know existed, perfect technique and executions. My right hand was on my face with my mouth open just about the whole time when I wasn’t taking pictures on my phone.
(I was sort of glad to not have my pro camera. Sure, the pictures would have been wonderful, but it’s no different than seeing it on TV. You’re experience is through a screen. This way I could just enjoy it, only getting a shot here and there for posterity.)

We were so close that the dancer’s could see us when the lights were bright towards us. How do we know? They would make eye contact and wink and stuff. It was so cool.
You could really see how much they put into their art form–the expression, the emotion, the force and passion. You could hear them breathing and see their mouths sing along at appropriate times. You could see their muscles contract and the details of their technique. You could hear them breathing and see the sweat drip off their faces onto the floor or glistening down their backs. You could even hear their feet hit the stage as they landed at times.
I was so glad Judy was there to see how they connected with each other and emoted so well.
There was even one incredible dance they did where it started out with one dancer and a sole lantern on stage. Next thing you know, there are two dancers with lanterns at the foot of the stage. Then two more down the aisle from there, and two more from there. Gaby was literally a couple feet from us, and Hailee not far behind either. Judy was beside herself, these were two of her favorites. The concept of this piece had to be one of my favorites, although favorites are hard to pick. Ever moment is absolutely incredible, with no dead space anywhere between.

I still can’t get over some of the things these people were able to do. I am #teampotato all the way in comparison, haha! But seeing them made me want to be better.

What I really appreciate about SYTYCD in particular is the wide variety of dancers.
In ballet, it tends to be one specific body type that’s favored. You can still dance without that body type, but more often than not if you don’t fit the mold you fall away. Thankfully, this is a stereotype that’s falling away a bit, but it is still very much the norm. Here, I can see dancers of all different body types doing all these different dance styles. I see one girl with thighs like mine, albeit more toned. Her stomach looks like mine, too. Toned, but not necessarily what someone may always consider “flat.” This particularly has been a hard one for me to accept lately because I know before I could get my stomach flat and “beautiful,” but at the expense of my health. If I’m hydrated, it expands a little. I was always made to believe that meant I was lazy, that I was incapable. But clearly it doesn’t. Here was this dancer before me, absolutely beautiful and slaying every single move in every dance she did. You wouldn’t even notice that her stomach wasn’t just like everyone else’s unless it’s something you question in yourself and therefore notice in others. She was perfect.
I looked up at her, watched her danced, and saw that if I continue to work hard it is possible for me to be like that, too. I can work harder on my thighs, stick to the game plan I have. I know I don’t have to worry about my stomach if I’m doing everything I need to do. I know that strength is where I need to work now that my body isn’t rejecting things as much and finally starting to feel normal for the first time in years. And now I had proof that it’s possible to be these things I dream.
(Thanks, Alexia. You really changed a person just by being who you are. I appreciate that more than you could ever know. Keep doing what you’re doing and inspiring lives.)

I also couldn’t get over how well everyone showed emotion and commitment to their roles. Specifically Hailee. She owned each and every part she did with such intensity, I couldn’t comprehend it. She reminded me of my friend Brieanna, whom I met at Bible School and is now starting to break out in the music scene. She’s incredibly talented and has always been a fierce friend that I am grateful for. (Check out Brieanna Grace’s “Good Machine” on Bandcamp.) That same spark Brieanna has always had is in Hailee, too, and dooms them to do great things with their art. I love it so much.

When the show ended, Judy and I decided to beat the crowd and exit out the side door.
As we walked out, I realized we were in the exact place where we needed to be in hopes to meet them.
We lingered a few minutes and one of the workers there told us, “It’ll be about an hour before they can come out. If you want to wait, please do so past the prop boxes so we can get them loaded.” So we did just that.
(I also saw Ray, whom I saw last year and follow on instagram, and a girl who was with them last year whose name I couldn’t remember. It made me happy, almost like I was seeing old friends, even though they have no idea who I am. I have a mad respect for them.)

Judy was exhausted and said she was going to sleep the whole way home. We talked about school she waiting for her the next day and the test she had to look forward to in third period. Time seemed to pass by pretty quickly and we made friends with a few people next to us. I realized that this time there were way fewer people waiting than last year. They didn’t even set up the little cable things to keep us in line or anything.

The dancers would come out and take their stuff to the bus, then come back and see us. Nothing separating us; mingling like old friends.

First person we met was Jaja, who was one of my favorites when she auditioned last year but didn’t make it through.

 I was so glad she came back and auditioned, and especially that she did so well. Meeting her was something I never thought would really happen. I almost wished I would have met her after a few other people first because I was so awkward and had no idea what to say and so tongue tied and everything. But she was kind, and so wonderful. Judy was really excited to meet her since she also had red hair. The whole drive home she’d go back to her picture with Jaja and stare at it, beaming. To say she left inspired is an understatement. Meeting these dancers started to show Judy the commonalities she shared with them and the potential she has in herself. I am so grateful to them, more than I could say.

Next up, we got to meet Derek.

I was particularly taken by him during his solo that night. He had these balances unlike anything I have ever seen.

**There’s a picture but my thing is being stupid and not loading it? But his face is clear but the rest of him is blurry HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN.

Next we got to meet Megz.

Okay, first off, her jacket is perfect. And I told her this. She was team Street, and one of the only people who was actually older than me. I was really impressed with how well she did any style she was given, and how fluid she can make her body look down to her fingers. (That was my favorite.) She was also one of Judy’s favorite’s, so she was really excited to meet her.

JJ skipped passed us while we were with Megz to keep the momentum going, so next we got to meet Neptune.

 Man, he was so cool! So down to earth and extremely friendly. Not to mention, his dancing was so sick. Like, my mind was blown. He was so kind and really loved Judy. A lot of the dancers did, which was so great. It really meant so much to her, which makes my heart burst with good things.

Next we got to meet Edson.

He had quite the cheering section the row in front of us during the show, and honestly I can see why. His skill level was incredible. He had a really warm personality and was very kind. I think the cheering section girls were there and had just met him. I can see why they were fans!

Next we got to meet Moises.

He was one of the alternates that was able to come, which is pretty cool. I love that they do that. I made him draw himself as he signed my program, and when he did he said, “This is my leg, and this is my foot. Look at how pointed my toes are! This is my favorite move.” It was hilarious. He was really nice and had gotten to do a solo which was really great.

After that, I saw JJ and she wasn’t with any of the other people. It looked like she was looking around to see if there were any more people, so I shouted, “JJ! Wait! Don’t leave us!” She laughed and smiled and came right over to meet Judy and I.

She talked with us about dance and Judy complimented her and talked about dance. She asked, “So you are team stage then?” We said yes, and she had complimented Judy’s dress, which had stripes, and so did her sweater so she said, “We can be team stripes!” She was so incredibly kind. And her sweater was insanely soft. It was crazy to think this was the same fierce team street dancer we had seen tearing up the stage not long before, seeing that she was as sweet as sugar! I love how she is the full package, all wrapped into one! I really enjoyed meeting her.

Next we got to meet Marissa, who was also an alternate.

I kept forgetting that the alternates were alternates. I mean, I had them all draw themselves, but I kept forgetting that they weren’t just like everyone else. They’re so insanely talented, and Marissa was no exception. She really blew my mind, and when I first saw her before consulting my program to figure out who she was, I couldn’t believe she wasn’t top 10. I can tell you, I’d hate to be one of the judges.
She was really friendly, asking how we liked the show and talking with us. I had her draw herself as well and she said, “Oh, I haven’t seen these yet! Can I look at it?” I said of course! And she looked through it. We got a picture and she said she wanted a copy of it. I told her I could tweet it to her, so she wrote her twitter handle by her picture in my program. I love how personable she is. I really felt like we were friends, and not just a fan meeting a dancer. That is a great skill to have, and I’m grateful to have met her. (When I tweeted her the picture the next day, she replied right away. Which I found really kind and also impressive that she was awake so early. hehe. 🙂 )

Next we meet Yorelis, who was another alternate.

Again, can’t believe they are alternates. How these judges decide is beyond me because all of these dancers were mind blowing.
Yorelis really stood out to me, partially because she has such amazing hair and I kept thinking of all the amazing pictures that could come of photo shoots, but mostly because of her insane amount of skill. She also drew herself on the program and we talked about dance. I told her I didn’t know how she does this every day. I mean, they must be so exhausted, we’re wiped out just after Nutcracker I can’t imagine this much intensity. She said, “It’s really not that bad! But I’m really grateful I get to do what I love every day.” And I said, “yes. Never stop doing that. Like, ever.” This really stuck with me, given my current work situation and the potential opportunities I have to (finally) leave there and do more of I love, which is hinging on the fact that what I love doesn’t bring enough income in to really justify quitting the place the sucks up all my times and damages my spirit. But this makes me want to press on. To fight to do what I love and endure until it’s what I can do full on. That I’m not being foolish to prioritize what makes my soul come alive over what society tells me I need. And I’m really fortunate to have the opportunities I have been given to get income doing what I live, even if it’s minimal. Every bit helps.

Next up came Jim, which Judy and I were internally freaking out over.

Judy and I do ballet, so obviously we would be excited about the dancer from Houston Ballet. (duh.)
He was so kind. I told him about Ms. Munro and how she used to be affiliated with Houston Ballet back in the day. (Ballet Mistress. I had to ask yesterday, hahaha) Judy told him he should totally be our Sugar Plum Cavalier since we only have a handful of guys, and we told him about Michael Levine that comes and dances with us. (Corpus Christi Ballet, if anyone is wondering.) We talked ballet and Nutcracker and dance and it was really cool. He was so nice and made us feel like we were just visiting with a friend, not meeting this dancer that has become a legend in the ballet world lately. We got pictures with him and when it came time for him to continue on he said, “I hope to see you again soon!” (Of course I told Ms. Munro about it all and dropped hints that we should totally have him in.)

Next we met Gaby.

She is the Season 12 winner, and sweet as can be. I just started taking Tap this season when Mrs. Julie asked me to take her level III since a few of the older kids were taking tap for the first time and she didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable being the only older ones. “You’re good with patterns, you’ll pick it up just fine!” It’s been fun so far, I’m really grateful to get to learn. Seeing Gaby, especially in her solo, absolutely blew my mind. I literally cannot find words to express how intricate and precise her tapping is. On top of being insanely talented, she’s also good at keeping it interesting. Some people can find tap sort of flat, which I think is ridiculous, but she makes it something anyone can enjoy, even if they don’t realize how difficult what she is doing really is. She talked with Judy about dance and asked her what her favorite styles were. (Judy was pumped to meet her. One of her favorites all season.) She really encouraged her to keep with it keep doing her best.
This is what it’s about, ya know? These dancers inspiring the up-and-comings just by being who they are. A person’s positive influence is invaluable, and I am so grateful to these for being that for Judy. I believe she is really at a pivotal moment in her dancing where she’s about to make a huge breakthrough and show everyone what she is really capable of. The other girls in her class better watch out, because she’s coming for them! I’m also grateful for the inspiration these dancers are for me. More on that at the end.
In my picture with Gaby, Virgil photobombed, which is hilarious.

Next we got to meet Virgil and Alexia at the same time.

Virgil signed the program and Alexia drew herself wonderfully as she signed. (#meyeronfire) They were really fun and really nice. We talked with them and laughed and really enjoyed ourselves. (I wrote about Alexia above. She’s great. Supah fab. And from Utah, but we claim her here in Texas for sure. But Utah is close to Idaho and that’s where Emilee [my name twin] lives so we like it there to. I haven’t been to Utah yet, but it’s on my list.) Alexia seems like a really well rounded dancer. I’m hoping to get to go back and watch this season and see the full picture of how they got here from where they began with their SYTYCD story. Virgil was pretty great as well. Really funny. He was impressive to watch and thrived with anything given to him. He was another one of the really expressive ones that just seemed to stand out.

Lastly, (but we didn’t know it was lastly) we met Hailee.

She was Judy’s absolute favorite. When she walked up to us, I told her this, and she was so excited. She signed our programs and we got pictures with her and we talked with her like old friends. I told her how she was one of the most emotive dancers I have ever seen and how much I appreciate it. She thanked me and we got to talking about dance and all sorts of things. I asked about her knee, since she danced with a brace on. She said, “Funny story!” and showed us the epic floor burn on her knee. “It bleeds like a gun shot wound!” so they wrap it and then put the brace over it to help protect her knee from bleeding all over the place when she dances. She told us that the first night on the bus was a rough adjustment, but she had Netflix so it made it easier. I told her to look up documentaries to fall asleep to and she said she looked up one on dangerous animals in Australia, but it ended up keeping her awake because it was so interesting (and slightly disturbing!) She said she’ll be there in the morning with fun facts about the animals she learns about and that the scariest was this super venomous snake and how much she hates spiders. (same, though.) She really seemed to be such a genuine person (And reminded me of my friend Brieanna, which I wrote about earlier if you skipped all that) and was so warm and friendly. I love when I can leave things like with with a greater respect for the dancers after meeting them than when I arrived. This was definitely true for Hailee, and for all the dancers. Before she left us, she gave us another hug. This really resonated with Judy (and me, too.) Like. How cool is this? Here we are, dancers connecting with other dancers. This time it just happens to be that we are meeting these dancers that are known nationwide and have talent oozing from every part of them.

Everyone was so incredibly kind and friendly. Last year was great and all, but this year really blew me out of the water. They all took time with each of us and really connected with us. I really appreciate it, more than I think I could ever express.
For me, being someone who started dancing well after I could ever be considered for a career, seeing people like this from so many different styles of dance–it stays in my heart; in my soul. I see them, and think, “okay, if I can just work harder, I know I can attain this.” And it came at a good time, seeing that I had just heard back from my doctor and we think we’ve finally figured out what has been making me so sick all these years. Now I have these shining examples in front of me of what is possible if I work hard and I know I can push myself harder and really work for it without having to be afraid of what is going on internally. For the first time in almost 13 years, I can push myself and really work for what I want. Without fear.
Now to just get everything figured out with my back and knee. Hah. But it’s going better! So that’s good.

The world is small, and it’s full of people. We’re all connected in the fact that we’re all human, walking different walks in life, yet all sharing similarities if we take the time to look for them.
I’m blown away and so grateful for the serendipitous moments like these that connect people to people and give the opportunity for inspiration. They’re changing lives, doing what they’re doing. Art is such a deeply personal thing, whatever the medium, and dance is a universal language. Once you decide to be a dancer, you become part of a vast family. We’re connected in ways that are hard to explain unless you’re part of it. I’m grateful to have met these talented members of that family, and so excited for social media to be able to follow along with where they each go next.
I’m rooting for y’all!

Judy was so excited, we talked the whole way home.
She was so taken with how good the picture of she and Jaja came out. She was thrilled to know there was a dancer who had red hair like her. Representation is important. You as a person represent all the similarities you hold with seeming strangers. You can never be everything to everyone, but you never know what you mean to someone. Be you. Be you fiercely. Represent what you are. The world is better for it.

Personal.

I’ve been having a pretty rough time in some things in my personal life, which hasn’t had too much of an effect on dance, thankfully, but yesterday took the cake.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be in the studio I am.
I had a panic attack during the day, and then the entire drive to the studio. (Hi, being real with y’all.) It was so bad that I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit in the foyer with the kids without questions. I couldn’t act happy to get through like I usually do. I couldn’t fake this. I was too broken. Instead, I went and sat in the office. I walked in and Ms. Munro and Mrs. Alex were there. I told them I just wanted to hide out until class and they looked concerned. They asked what happened and I couldn’t speak because the tears wouldn’t go away from my throat and I had to just sit there for a second. I managed to get it out and cried a little and told Mrs. Alex if I just randomly broke down in her class this was why.

I considered not going to dance at all, but I knew I wanted to be there. This is the day I really needed to go. I wanted to pound my feet into the floor rhythmically, and tap was the perfect solution to that. I was able to be composed enough to play it off (well enough at least) in tap and having the moves to focus on was a great distraction. We worked on this one thing that’s a Moxie Ford with an extra beat. I didn’t it once, and then couldn’t seem to get it again. If I thought about it, I couldn’t do it. It was frustrating. I realized I was on the brink of another panic attack, I guess perpetually, so I had to calm myself down without anyone knowing. Thankfully, it’s tap class, so stomping into the ground is encouraged. Throughout the class I started sort of grasping the concept of the extra step, but I still can’t seem to connect it. I’ll get it eventually. I really want to get better at tap. I like it. I wish I had more time outside of class to work on stuff to improve.

Mrs. Alex’s class went well. Barre felt really good, even if it didn’t at the time. Does that make sense? She pushed us out of our comfort zone, which was great. She showed me how to make my arms more fluid, which I really appreciate because I’ve wondered what’s the correct way to do it versus which will make my arms look lazy and flat. I’m really gonna be working on implementing that.
My toes hurt in pointe, but part of it was that I had worked them so much the day before and they were still a bit raw. Another part was that I put that hole in my toe pad, so they were almost irrelevant. (Except for the space they take up in the shoe that I need.) I have new toe pads waiting for me in the mail, so I should be okay by next class. (If I have time to sew my shoes.)
I struggled across the floor. We did things in center that were new and semi-difficult, and I was able to attempt them, so that was nice. I didn’t do it full out since I’m not 100% sure how okay my knee is right now, but I grasped the concept and I tried. Across the floor I started to feel overwhelmed again. Mrs. Alex was kind and didn’t call me out on it or anything. I really appreciated Adrienne. Everyone else was either struggling just as much, or working on it themselves or whatever. There was one part that was simple, yet I couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t even mark it because I didn’t understand it so I watched to try and figure it out. I was considering not even trying it. Adrienne figured out how to do it, then took the time to come back and explain it to me. She gave me the boost I needed to feel confident enough to try it. She has no idea how much I appreciate that. (And because I’m a sensitive mess right now, I’m crying just remembering her kindness.) (so that’s cute.)
The last thing we did across the floor, I just couldn’t get. It was simple enough, but a bit too fast for me. It involved pique turns, which I had worked on the day before, but knew I wasn’t fast enough for what it required. I tried it to the right, but to the left I didn’t. I took off my shoes. I almost panicked after the time I did try, because I’m all on edge and all, so I went into the corner and just tried to breathe. A few of the girls asked if I was okay, and I just nodded. I couldn’t hid it. But I know I’ll be okay eventually.

Mrs. Rowland told me that I looked really beautiful in class today. Which shocked me with how rough I was feeling. But I appreciate her words. And her constant support. I love that whole family.

I can’t express how much I appreciate the kindness of my peers. They don’t have to be nice to me. They can leave me to figure things out for myself if they wanted. A lot of dancers would. A lot of dance teachers wouldn’t let you sit and cry in the office about things no one has control over. Mine are patient with me, and understanding. They don’t look down on me because I’m overwhelmed, they support me.

I wish I had taken a picture on my phone of the polaroid from last night. It’s golden.

I’m skipping dance tonight. One of the dance mom’s asked me to take her daughter to So You Think You Can Dance in San Antonio since she had surgery recently and can’t. I’m really excited. I didn’t think I’d get to go again, but it worked out. I’ll get home late and more than likely be dead tired, but it’ll be worth it. Plus to get to hang out with Judy will be really fun.

So if you’re the praying type, please be praying for me. I trust God completely and I know whatever is ahead for me is well worth what I’m going through now. I just need to be able to get through it.

Yesterday. (ooey gooey feelys)

Yesterday was the first class I was ever able to do completely en pointe.

Now, I may have done this at Instep, but I don’t remember if I ever made it all the way through. Usually my toes would hurt so badly that I could never actually get through the steps I needed to. I remember it being very discouraging.

Yesterday was encouraging.
It was stability and compliments.
It was hope and sore feet and feeling like I was doing something right for once.
It was trying harder and doing more and pushing limits.

Yesterday was nothing special, but it was everything.

I found myself standing by myself at the smaller barre along the short wall, really taking in everything around me. These girls, all in the same place at the same barres they always stand at, pressing themselves harder than normal, focusing on their technique. Ms. Lori, leading us along in this endeavor to become our best. She kept saying things like, “Don’t let this get to your head, but people are watching this class.” and I would laugh inside that she opened with the preface she did, because out of this whole class, maybe one may let it go to her head, but maybe not. Mostly these girls are fueled by hope and ambition, striving to be their best and oblivious to the fact that they’re already better than the next level above them for the most part. One of the girls said, “I know why. It’s because you’re our teacher.”
I couldn’t have said it better.

And I stood back (metaphor) and for the first time, I saw these girls as competition.
They aren’t just the “cute little ones” anymore. These girls are biting at my heels, some surpassing me. They will get roles I will probably never be able to get. Maybe simply because I am too old, but maybe because they’re better.
These girls are dedicated. You tell them to jump and they leap. You tell them to try and they succeed.
No one has let them in on the secret the world is keeping that you’re supposed to be afraid. And honestly, I hope no one ever does. These girls are capable of so much. The world is theirs for the taking, and they’re taking it.
And honestly, I can’t wait to see where they go. I’m excited to see what the next audition holds for them. We have six Clara’s in their class, easy, if not more. They’re so good. And the last thing in their head is to let it make them proud.
I’m literally brought to tears at the thought of it. At the thought that I get to be a part of this class. That this doesn’t just end when we finish with IV’s. That I get to go with these girls on to the V’s class. It challenges me to work hard so I can keep pace with them, and encourages me that if they can do it I can, too. They may think I’m there to encourage them, but really they’re encouraging me.

We got our recital costumes yesterday. I wish I would have taken a picture of the Polaroid, because it’s perfect. The colors are absolutely stunning and the way it flows on stage takes your breathe away. It brought Ms. Lori to tears when we ran the piece, and you could see the girls take pride in themselves as they danced. (not the negative, head-hawty pride, but the kind that brings a feeling of adrenaline-inducing accomplishment.) They all loved the head pieces, too, which made me feel really good.
They smile more. The ones that were in their shell at the start of the year are opening up, and the “popular” girls are accepting of everyone. Gah, I love it.

Ms. Munro came in at one point and was really impressed with what she saw. She even said, in hushed tones, “I really think this is the best dance of the whole recital.”
What an honor to get to be a part of something so special.

Allison took this of my feet after class.

It’s nice to see that you’ve improved. That all your work wasn’t for nothing. That you’re not as bad as your brain would have you believe. I still have a long way to go, but I’ll get there. If I can get here, I’ll get there.

This is me with Nina. One of my many babies in the class. She calls me Mom 🙂
This year has literally been the best. And it’s not over yet.