Let’s try it. 

Yesterday started off not much better than the day before. My brain was fuzzy and I felt out of my depth. I know it’s the 6 class and many people say I’m more than capable, but yesterday I was feeling my 5.

There were bits I was terrified over but still tried. So that was something at least. I don’t know that I would say I was successful, but I was definitely more successful than having never tried at all.

There was a point when I panicked. And it was stupid. But I was embarrassed and just didn’t have it in me to fully wrap my brain around what was happening, what was being asked of me, and I knew I looked like a fool doing it. Thankfully, Julie is good at recognizing when to push and when to pull back and she pushed until she needed to pull back so I didn’t completely fall apart. (Although I did fall apart more than I would have liked. And felt a prime idiot more than I prefer.) (yay for comfort zones being demolished?) (or something)

After ballet was over, I went into the small studio to break in my new shoes. I waited until then to do it instead of breaking them in in class because I wanted to make sure it was done properly. These are experimental shoes, and I want to give them every bit of a real chance as I can.

They’re the same shoe, just with a harder shank. The hardest Capezio makes, actually. I had the hardest shank before, but now they’ve started making an even harder shank, so Amanda from Capezio in Austin told me about it and I figured I’d give it a shot. They came in, I sewed them that day, and waited for d-day. (So to speak)

I was nervous, so say the least. After the Gaynors bombed because of sizing, I was afraid these wouldn’t be any better and I’d just have to make my old shoes work best I knew how. Which they aren’t terrible. But it seemed something was missing.

I put them on, did a few things to help the arch so they wouldn’t snap, then I rolled up.

I’d say my biggest fear was that they’d be too hard. That I wouldn’t be able to get over my box and it would be so defeating. That I would find myself with the opposite problem of what I had before, and would have to find a way to make it work.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, they seemed to mold to my arch, getting me over my box but not too far. Just enough to do what I need but give me room to work harder. If that makes sense? Anyway.

I went into the office and asked Ms. Munro what she thought. Sometimes people think they need hard shanks but are really just fooling themselves. I didn’t want to be that person. So she had me do typical bit of standing in first, then pushing through the instep, then straightening while trying to stay far over the box. Afterwards she said, “those look great!” And we talked about how people who have naturally higher arches need a harder shank. Which I’ve been told I have, but never really realized it I guess.

So the shoes are a go. Approved by Ms M, and feel great. I went back in the studio and worked a bit more. I did a few of the things to help me lift out of my shoe and then I decided to try a pirouette to see what would happen.

Wouldn’t you know it, it improved substantially.

I was able to hold the position a bit longer, it felt more stable, I was able to fully get around and roll through like a champ. I was on cloud nine.

So I tried an en dedan. And I got around with my leg not even to the front where it needed to be. So I fixed it and it was quite a decent turn. Still better on one side versus the other but that’s typical. I went back to regular pirouettes and the first one I tried was so solid if I would have gotten a bit more force it could have been a double. What. The. Heck. So then I tried a double and completely bombed it because I was thinking too hard so I just laughed at myself.

I worked on chaines and piques and was successful with both, though they need work. I felt like what I see other girls look like. That this must be what it feels like for them in class.

More importantly, I felt hope.

Which is something that has seemed to be in short supply recently. It gave me a bright point among all the stormy clouds that have been keeping me company. Sure things still suck, but at least I have something to help me through.

I’m grateful, for sure, and emailed Amanda from the studio letting her know she’s my hero and asking to order the next pair of magic shoes. I wish I could order more at once, but these bad boys run about $120 each. Sucks to go through them so quickly.

Oh well. It’s worth it to me.


  

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.

Empty studio

Usually on Tuesdays, I’m only at the studio until about 7pm. This is considered early for me, as most of my classes start at 7 and go til 9. (I get there at 5 because it’s just easier than going home, which is far away. And traffic sucks.) Last night, however, I didn’t leave until after 9.

On Monday, Ms. Munro came up to me during barre and asked what time I could get here the next day. She had a board meeting and no one to man the desk after she left. I told her my class was at 6, but I get here at 5 and I can do it if she’d like. She said not to skip the class (haha) but if I could be there it’d be great. I got there, answered the phones, and manned the desk until Julie’s class started.
There were only 10 people in class, which if I remember correctly was about typical of the 6s last year. The kicker? There’s 30+ people on the roll list.

I was able to do yesterday’s class without my knee brace. I took it easy on the fondus, but I really wanted to at least attempt them so I can get used to it and find my boundaries. I’ve noticed if I work hard to hold my hips square, it doesn’t hurt my knee as much. I also noticed yesterday that it looks as though my shin bone is what’s longer on the right leg. Weird, huh?

Class felt good. It wasn’t too hard, but just enough of a challenge. I noticed myself getting better and stronger when it comes to doing fast frappe’s or degage’s or tondue’s. I still have a lot to work on, but the improvement is nice.

After the hour of barre I stay for, I went back into the office. Andie came in and we looked through recital costumes for her three classes she has. It was quite fun. Looking through all the different options and playing around with music tracks and laughing at the same costume that keeps popping up everywhere. The phone rang a couple times while I was there, but none of the inquiries were complex, so that was nice.

Mia’s class in the pink studio ended at 7:45. Julie had her Jazz class at 7:45 until 8:45.
This got me to thinking.
I could go home, or I could be the one to do all the closing up responsibilities and in the meantime, use the open studio to work on my weaker, shorter leg in my pointe shoes.
(guess which one I chose.)

There’s a portable phone, so I took it with me. No one was in the foyer, no one was there to potentially decide to see what I was doing in the studio. (granted there are curtains I could draw if I wanted. I just forget about them.) I put on some music and just let it play. Starting at the barre, working on doing proper plies and finding how difficult it is to releve en pointe when one leg is shorter and gets there sooner. I did plie releves on my shorter, weaker leg, while holding on to the barre. I did it with the longer, stronger leg as well to see the difference in the two. The shorter leg is impossible to do without the barre, the longer leg is possible but still a bit difficult. (Forget trying to releve without a plie.)
In class on Monday, I realized how much I’ve been struggling to do proper pique turns. They aren’t hard, but I can’t seem to go in a straight line, and I want to make sure I’m plieing enough as well as spotting and holding my arms correctly and having proper alignment and straight knees. I wanted to get more fluid in these, so I can do them quicker as was required in Monday’s V’s class that I struggled with.

My left side is impossible to go straight when turning. I worked and worked and worked on it, trying to make sure everything was being executed exactly as it is supposed to be. It was rough.
I worked on my right side, and noticed I didn’t get on my box all the way. I do for the most part on my left side, but the right is lacking. So I worked on this side for a while, trying to figure out why that was happening and what I could do to improve. I did pique passe’s across the floor to get the proper feel of it as well as placement and staying in a line. I kept switching off between sides, working on this and that. After about 20 minutes, I went back to the barre for more plies and releves. I did them really slowly to get a good feel for the motion and make sure I was rolling through correctly, as well as getting a good, deep plie.
I stretched a bit after and laid there, seeing a cool angle of my pointe shoes, hahaha.

Don’t let the smirk fool you, I’m dead inside.
(But the good kind, ya know.)
(PS. Shirt is from an etsy shop run by dancers. TurningPointeApparel. So great)
I took off my shoes in the office, but not before I got my polaroid of the day from that fun angle of my shoes. Not sure if it came out well or not, I haven’t seen it. hah.
My pinkie toe on my left food is doing this fun thing where it rubs the skin off, kinda, so that’s cute.
Then I noticed that I managed to do this.
That would be a hole in my toe pads.
(thankfully new ones are in the mail)
I watched bits of the Jazz class. Seeing them dance the way they did make me feel all sorts of things. Mainly, that I never want to stop dancing. I want to feel how they must feel while dancing. I want to improve to get to that level.

🙂
He’s a blurry one of my shoes. Ribbons out and all. 

Here’s my feet with Mrs. Alex’s when we were manning the desk. Hehe.
Lalalalalala this is my post and this is the end of it.

Oh look! An update!

It’s been a while since I’ve had a class to post about, but never fear! Classes start again for summer today, and my first one is tomorrow.
I’m taking the intermediate level, which consists of levels 2, 3, and 4. I was torn about deciding intermediate over advanced, being that it will be geared more toward the younger ones (so I’m told?) and I don’t want my choice to cause me to be written off. But upon consulting a more advanced friend, as well as Ms. Lori, Intermediate is probably a good choice for me this year.

  • I’ve never done a beginner pointe class. What we did at Instep was close to one, but my shoes weren’t fitted right and I struggled so much that I couldn’t even finish the class in my shoes.
  • Going back to the basics is always a good idea. Plus it’ll help me know what to do at home by myself.
  • I’m not biting off more than I can chew. I’d rather be on the advanced side of intermediate than drown in the advanced class. 
  • The goal is to dance it en pointe. Even if I could do advanced on flat, I don’t want to use the time when I could be doing pointe across the hall.
  • My back is still messed up. Ms. Lori pointed out this would be better for me than pushing it too hard when it’s still pretty crooked. (Plus the chiropractor keeps side commenting about dance. He hasn’t told me to stop, but I’m terrified if I say the wrong thing that he will.)
  • I’m taking private lessons from Mrs. Abby to help me improve further.
Coming into this week, I’m really glad I don’t have to mentally prepare myself to do super-complex things that I really don’t know how to do, but I do have to prepare to be “on” in the sense that I will be with the younger levels, and they really like me. 
I love those girls, and I’m glad to get to take a class with them, but I’m a bit nervous of how it could go in a way that could show a side of weakness for me and cause anxiety. I don’t know if that makes sense. Oh well.
I’m not extremely worried about it or anything, it’s just a thought in my head.
My first private lesson will be on Thursday. I’m nervous/excited about this (more excited than nervous) and really hopeful that it will go well. I really trust Abby. She has a great way of explaining things in a way that is easy to understand and grasp, as well as motivating without making me hate myself. Plus, since we’ve become friends, she knows all of my health woes. I know she will be understanding of my limitations, but not write me off because of them. Does that make sense? My brain has been mush today. Oh well.
I got invited to go to a spontaneous pointe shoe fitting last week, but it fell through. I was both sad and kinda glad, because the place we would be going didn’t have a shoe similar to what I wear, and I didn’t want to spend so much money on something that wouldn’t do me any good when I know a shoe that does me good is down the road. 
My co worker had to go to Austin, and said if I went along, we could swing by Capezio. (what a gem.)
I emailed Amanda, who is the wonderful lady who took Jordan’s spot, and asked what she thought. She said it would be a good idea to make sure there wasn’t anything better for me now that I knew what I liked and what worked for my feet. 
For some reason, I was hesitant to get excited (I guess I do this?) in case it fell through or something, but it didn’t.
At 11:15, I walked into Capezio (early, oops.) and met with the girl Amanda said would be there and told her my feet woes and she kinda stared at my toes with an I’ve-never-seen-such-weird-feet look and it was funny. She went back to their shoe room and as I waited, I noticed that they carried the new Airess that had come out not too long ago. I immediately text my friend Elizabeth and told her. We had talked of pointe shoes at a photo shoot I did of her the Saturday before. She was the one that suggested the secondary fitting to make sure the shank breaking wasn’t due to an issue with the shoe to my foot, and mentioned how she wanted to buy a pair just to try them on then send them back. 
When the girl came out, I asked if I could try them. She said, “Actually, that’s the shoe I brought you.” 
Perfect.
She said they have six different types of the Airess, with two different box styles, three different shank strengths, and something else I don’t remember because I was so excited. These shoes have been pumped up not just by the company, but by many dancers in the industry. To say I was curious is an understatement.
I remember when I did the fitting in September, even Jordan made a comment about some people not liking how Capezio looked on their feet. The first thing I noticed with the Airess is how clean it looked. 
The first pair she brought out were a little small for my feet, but when she grabbed the second pair, it was near perfect. (It should be noted, I tried them on with no toe pads at first. hah.)
I went over to the barre and went on releve and the girl said, “You get over your box really well!” Which just made me feel great. 
I couldn’t really tell if my toes were scrunching or if they were just perfect, which tends to be my struggle in new shoes. If you err on the side of maybe-they-are-scrunching your shoe can end up huge and makes dancing particularly complicated being that most of my toes are midgets already and don’t fill up the shoe.
The shape of the tapered boxed, super hard shanked Airess that I tried was perfect for my wide jointed, but tiny-toed feet. I was over-the-moon-thrilled about it. So I bought them.
All in all, the fitting took maybe seven minutes, tops. 
I looked around the store for new tights and to check out their leotards when the girl mentioned that all the leos were 15% percent off. I said, “Don’t tell me that!” and she apologized, which made me laugh. (I told her to tell me that after. It wasn’t as awkward or rude as it sounds, go with me here.)
Typically I have a hard time finding leotards that are long enough for me, but this time I found three. THREE.
Two of them were simple styles, but ones I had been looking at getting online (now 15% off and no shipping!) The other was fancy. I’m really excited.
The whole rest of the day (which was a long one) I was gushing over my fifteen minutes in the heaven reincarnate that is known as Capezio Austin. I put the shoes on and text a picture to Lillian and we squealed and it’s just great. 
I have sewn the ones I had special ordered–which weren’t supposed to come in until August, but happened to make it there Wednesday and they held them for me–and have to wait til after tomorrow to sew the Airess, but I don’t really want to try those until I have Abby as a teacher. They gave me elastic for both pairs, but I have to cross mine and one is never enough, so I used both to sew the one pair I’ll need for tomorrow.
(She had noted that the shank on my left shoe twists a little, but she didn’t think it was enough to cause alarm and that crossing the elastic should fix it. Thankfully this time I sewed them tightly enough.)
One of my friends has a giant roll of elastic and told me not to get anymore, so she’s bringing me some on Tuesday. Such a gem. So I’ll be able to have the Airess sewn by Thursday’s class.
All in all it was a very productive Saturday. A trip I really needed to make happen but couldn’t figure out how I could swing it when it found its way into happening on its own. 
It’s like ballet wants me to dance it.
The loot.

They’re just so beautiful…

This is what I sent Lillian.
You’re welcome.
(please note the driver’s seat I was behind was occupied by a 6’5″ person and I was smooshed.)