Small Studio

I may have mentioned before, but on Tuesdays–now that I stay through both hours of the VI’s class–I noticed that the small studio was open while Julie had the advanced Jazz class in the big studio. I asked Ms. Munro if I could use it to work on things when no one was in it. She was all for it.
So yesterday, Adrienne and I utilized this opportunity last night to work on some things we had seen and also some things we had never truly been shown.
(I don’t really want too many people to do this, because then it could become some kind of class, and therefore require payment for using the studio space. But having someone there to work with is beneficial.)

It was beneficial, too, because Ms. Munro kept popping in and out of the studio to get to the back storage closet, so we were able to ask her questions about the different steps we were working on, and she wanted to see our progress.

We worked on a tombe, coupe, jete step that neither of us had been taught. (Annika and Jessica had worked with me on showing it to me at Feast of Sharing, but I didn’t really know it enough to do it in class when it was one of the things we worked on yesterday.) Ms. Munro explained what we should think about (it’s one of her favorite steps) and a few pointers on it and let us go to town.
While working on this, I realized how terrible my jete’s really are. But now that I know, I can make an effort to work towards getting them better. I think part of the issue is being afraid to plie on my longer leg, since I got so used to it piercing in pain. It has been improving, now that I stay away from grande plies and jumps (which sucks, but if it helps I’ll do it.) (And also, I do them in pieces, so that’s good) but it’s still ingrained in me to be afraid. I have to break through that, and take the pain as it comes but not expect it.

Adrienne helped me tremendously on my chaine turns. I never properly learned them, and have trouble with spotting. We got substantial progress on these (Ms. M popped in and helped a bit as well) so now I don’t look like a fool as much. Honestly, confidence is half the work. If you can go forward without second guessing, you’re more likely to be successful. Now that I know what it’s supposed to feel like, I feel like I can more confidently approach them. (I need to truly get the feel en pointe, though, cause we worked in flat shoes.)

Adrienne worked on really getting the hang of fouette turns. She really didn’t have a struggle–the girl’s a natural. She tried them and succeeded first try, and I was able to film it and show her how they looked. Now she just needs to get nit-picky like the rest. I’m really proud of her. She’s really grown so much since I first met her. It’s as though everything is clicking and she’s really nailing these things. I’m especially glad we got the opportunity to work together yesterday. It helps to have someone there who will compliment you when you need it, and critique you when you need it.
And really, we all need to take a moment to remember where we started and how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.
I may get critical of myself and see how far I have to go, but Adrienne pointed out to me how far I’ve come just since being at Munro’s. We always have farther to go, more to learn, but we can’t forget to remember the progress hard work has brought us through.

Keep working hard, and you’ll get there.

(Oh. and we were working on the 6’s recital yesterday. We had to change a bit of the placement, so I ended up in the front.ย I half-expected Julie to switch me with Jessica or Adrienne, who were next to me, but she didn’t. In turn, I also ended up in a group of four with Annika, Alex, and Sean. WHAT IS LIFE. so, I really need to work on my jete’s, because I have to do them after the two girls and I don’t want to look like a derp. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to get this opportunity. I’m really hoping I can rise to the expectations, and beyond grateful that she’s starting recital now so I can learn these things while I’m still here, before work takes over my life for a hot second.)

Recital

I really want to write this post, but I’m finding myself a little cloudy in the mind. I first noticed it last night, and woke up feeling like I got hit by a truck, so I’m going to attempt to write this out but if it’s a little off, forgive me.

Last night was the second day of our annual recital. My first one at this new studio. I only danced on the Saturday, but I helped with the Friday show. Ms. Munro put me in charge of the Rehearsal Hall, where all the younger dancers were gathered. (I got a walkie talkie! And a clipboard!) She thought I had done recitals with them before. I told her I hadn’t, but if she told me what she wanted I could do it. It ended up being fairly simple, at least my part. The other volunteers (mostly from one of the local high schools) did a lot of the brunt work. (organizing little kids is a lot like herding cats.) Their effectiveness made my job easy.
Friday was the bigger day, although Saturday had a dance of 5-ish year olds with 30 kids.
30.
To keep in order down three flights of stairs and quiet backstage.
And they were only one of 5 groups in the room.
These girls deserve awards.

I missed seeing my favorite dance on Saturday, but had gotten to see it Friday and at rehearsal on Thursday.
I almost rolled my ankle before the show, but managed to not. My shanks are starting to die. Apparently there’s a way to duct tape them to help them last longer, but I need to look into this still.

We danced and it went really well. I was actually the one that was off on the lines out of everybody. Oops. Cloudy brain hit me hard. But Mom said no one could really tell, and she couldn’t tell at all, so that’s good at least.
The dance felt really good. I was sad that I couldn’t be with my girls in the dressing room before hand, but I was really proud of all of them. They did so great. Not just in our dance, either.
One of my favorite things of the whole recital was being side stage, watching some of my babies (and of course taking pictures.) some of them would see me, and we’d lock eyes, and you’d see their faces just beam. It makes you feel good to know you make someone else feel good.

I would say the recital was a success.
The lady who works for the building where we dance and guards the stage entrance door, Pat, was there working the recital shows. We saw her a few times during Oz, but I was glad to have her every day of recital. She is a naturally kind person, I love her. Last night she had a program, and she marked certain dances she wanted to sneak backstage to watch. How sweet, right? She was so encouraging and blown away. She told me afterwards, “That was so beautiful! Like a real ballet!” I got a picture with her, and gave her the extra flower crown we had from our dance. She is such a gem.

Elizabeth also got to sneak backstage and watch us, which was really great. She helps with quick changes and didn’t think she’d be able to see us, but she got to. It really means a lot to me. I know I’m not the only one she loves in the dance, but to have her be so supportive and encouraging and just so lovely is something I cherish. I mean, people are usually nice to me, but nothing like this. And she doesn’t have to be, ya know? She’s just naturally lovely.

I’m really grateful to have my Instep crew at this studio. Andie, Annika, Hanna and some of the younger girls have really rounded out this experience. I love seeing them all thrive and succeed and display these beautiful works of art through movement. I couldn’t be more proud of them, and I’m completely honored to call them my friends.

I miss my girls already. Not all of them are taking summer classes. One is moving away and this was her last performance with us. It definitely won’t be the same without her next year, but I am excited for her new opportunities.

My mom somehow misplaced their recital tickets before the show yesterday. I text Andie to see if she thought Ms. Nancy would be able to help me out or if my parents would have to buy new ones. She said Ms. Nancy would definitely help me out, so I found her when I got to the theatre and told her what was going down. She went with me to the ticket lady, and even gave me one for my sister for free. She also asked me if I was doing summer classes. I told her I was taking the evening ones since I work during the day. She told me that they wanted to compensate me for all my help this weekend, and so to go ahead and register online, but when it came to payment I wouldn’t have to worry about it. I wanted to cry, it was too good to be true. Summer classes are kind of steep and I really wasn’t sure how I would pay for it. But I wanted to be there so I figured I’d worry about it when the time came. Now I don’t have to worry about it at all. It’s especially nice since I’ve been getting kind of beat up on the work-front. This makes a big difference. Even though things at work aren’t in my favor, it’s nice to know other things are that kind of make up the difference. I’m extremely grateful.

My parents came to the show (sister stayed home) and really enjoyed the VIP Parking I had ended up with (Thanks, Mrs. Alex!) for the night. Parking is one of the number one concerns for these shows, so I was hopeful having the stress-free VIP option would help. It really did.
They stayed for the entire show, and even waited to meet me afterwards. When they did, they told me how much they really enjoyed it, and it was genuine. They told me they were so proud of me, and that I did really well. Mom even said, “You looked like a real ballerina up there!”
So even though I didn’t get the opportunity to prove myself in two classes at my old studio, I still proved myself. It felt really good.
I followed my dream for me, and now they see why. They see that I love it.

My friends from Instep, McKenna and Cambrielle, (and mom!) came to see the show, as well! I had no idea, and actually saw them downstairs when I had one shoe off, but I took off down the stairs to see them anyway. It really meant the world to have them there. They were two people that were absolutely pivotal in my story when I first began this road. McKenna would see the panic on my face and meet me in the corner to do the combination with me when I panicked. We also used to teach baby classes together the last year. It’s so great whenever the people you love support what you love. I can’t express how much it means.

This was a wonderful way to cap off the end of the season. I’m sad it’s over, but I’m so grateful it happened.
It’s amazing to see how far we have come in just a year.
I can’t wait to see where we go from here. Especially Annika. That girl has a bright future ahead.
If I get emotional seeing my dance babies grow and succeed, I’m screwed for when I have my own kids. I’m gonna be a mess.!

It was really cool to have some of the other dancer’s moms (and little sisters) come up to me after the show and tell me how great I did. And to know it wasn’t just them being nice, but that they meant it. That they see improvement in me from the beginning of the year. And to have some of my babies who didn’t dance Saturday come out just to see us and support us, it’s really good for the soul.

This is what I’m alive for. This makes all the trouble and stress of life worth pushing through. Loving people and being loved by people.

My heart is full.

My cousin, Lauren, and I

Cambielle, me, and McKenna

Mom and Dad

Mrs. Pat ๐Ÿ™‚

Shrub

Hanna B ๐Ÿ™‚

Cousin and I againnnn ๐Ÿ˜€

Elizabeth and I ๐Ÿ˜€
Sweet Jasmine

Emerson!ย 

Feetsies

Catherine, my tiny dancer

watching the V’sย 
Or maybe advanced? I don’t remember which class they are

Lauren

Shruuuub

Lucy!

Alyssa with some of the 30 of the babies

I taught that one in the back at Instep. She doesn’t remember… haha

Personal.

“Emilee’s a good dancer I dont know why she doesn’t think so cause she is”

My friend sent me this quote from her sister last night.
Why is it that my first response–after how adorable her sister is–was “Who said I though that?” But then I realized that I probably didn’t even realize I said it. It may not have been so many words, but more so my actions and body language. I responded with, “Am I really? Cause I don’t really feel like much of one.” Which was how I really felt, when I am completely honest with myself.

To which she tells me
“I mean I don’t tell ya just to make ya feel good.”

And that’s the thing. This friend won’t tell me something just to make me feel good.
She’s honest. Even if it isn’t pleasant.
And that’s one of my favorite things about her.

So if she sees it, and her sister sees it, why do I have such a hard time seeing it?

I struggle. Especially en pointe. I was too afraid to do the 5s class en pointe because I knew I was behind. There were some things that were just over my head and I didn’t want to risk it. My extensions aren’t as high as I would like and I’m riddled with health issues that keep increasing in number and severity as time goes on. I’m inexperienced and falling behind those in my 4s class. (seriously? How are these girls doing doubles en pointe? I can’t even do two on flat! and I struggle with one en pointe! What gives!) I’m not super talented like my other friend who literally makes people cry with her expression as well as her incredible technique.

I’m awkward and overweight and scared of everything.

Yet these people say that I’m good.

And when I hear that, my initial response is, “Yeah, well they just think that because I know how to fake it really well. It’s not that I’m actually good. I’m just good at making my face seem like everything is okay.”

I really want to improve.
I want to learn more.
I want to practice.
I want to take privates and get more confident.
I feel like if I were more confident and more stable in my footing then maybe I would believe them.
If my thighs were a little more trim and my arms were tone again then maybe I’d actually look the part.

But why am I this shallow?
When I’m the first to shut it down in someone else if I hear the same thing? Because I can see something they don’t see in themselves. Why don’t I believe it when someone does the same for me?

I’ll let you know as I figure it out…

Today is the first recital day. I dance tomorrow, but I’m helping with the kids today.
I’m excited and sad that this year is officially over.
I’m a little nervous for what next year will actually hold, and uncertain of these summer classes.

But being around everyone yesterday, dancing this beautiful piece, I know that dance isn’t something I want to give up.
That concrete stage actually felt the best on my feet than anything, and I don’t know how that makes sense.

I’m just praying my shoes don’t die tomorrow. Because my new ones won’t be in until August.

I have a lot left to learn; about ballet and about myself and about this world I live in.
I really want to believe them when they tell me these things.
Ironically, this friend’s sister is the one I saw dancing that first made me believe that I could do this.
I saw her and thought, “If she can do that, maybe I can too.”

Please be patient with me. I’ve got a lot of demons I’m fighting.
I’m learning.

Conviction

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

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

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

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

I was at a loss for words.

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

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

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 mayย 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 soย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
This year has literally been the best. And it’s not over yet.