Photo day 

Here’s some pictures from photo day yesterday


  
  

  
  

  
  
  
  
  
  
One of the dear moms asked if the covers could take pictures just to have. Mrs Alex was gracious enough to offer her time and we were able to. It was fun to flip around and goof off with these girls. I love them. They make it fun.
I have lots of thoughts and feelings, but I don’t think it necessary to share them here. So I shall leave you with these pictures and keep truckin’.

 

Swan rehearsal and fitting

This morning I woke up feeling anxious. 

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

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

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

Today was one of those days. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
    
    
   
A few of my friends 😊

Here’s a few before class. 

   
   

Beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts.

Yesterday’s advanced class was…something.
It wasn’t bad, it was just super crowded (we were only missing one person. That never happens.) and there were some complex things given to us, and that’s when Ms. Munro thought it would be a great time to watch us all. I feel this innate pressure to prove myself, and having her watching made me so nervous. I felt like it was just screaming that I didn’t belong there.
I shook it off. It is what it is.

The good thing about classes this week, is that they are challenging me and really helping me push out of my comfort zone and work the areas that I really need help in. So that’s been nice.

Downside, the Gaynor’s flopped so I’m back to square one.
Although, I believe the main root of my problem is the lack of strength in my hips (I struggle to maintain turnout on one leg) and the fact that I’ve been sick for so long, hesitating on engaging my core has sadly become second nature. Learning to push out of that, while not pushing too hard–it’s a struggle.

After class, I was able to go in the small studio with Adrienne and show her what we learned in Swan rehearsal Saturday so she’d be ready this weekend. She picked it up pretty well, which is great. She took pictures of my notes after so that way if she forgot something, she could reference it.
When I got home, I was trying to mentally prepare myself for not dancing that part this weekend. To open my mind to the fact that I’d be at a different place in line, a different place in formations, following different people and at some points doing different steps. Thinking about it beforehand helps me remain calm and open in the situation itself.
As I did, I thought about who all I know will be out and has asked me to learn their part. Abarrane will be late this weekend, which is good cause she’s opposite Adrienne. The next weekend, Jessica is out, which isn’t too far from what I’ve learned since she’s next to Adrienne in formations. She said she’d teach me their different part this Saturday. Lauren will be out for drill team two weeks, so I need to learn her part as well, but she isn’t too too different either, since she’s in that same last section.

I realized after this month, covering just these people, I’ll know every part. At least for what we’ve learned so far.

How cool is that?
All Adrienne has to concern herself with is her part; what I’ve shown her and what she’ll learn moving forward. She won’t learn what I learn; at least she isn’t required to.

So even though I may learn all of this and not get to dance the role, it’s pretty cool that I will essentially know this part better than anyone else. And should the need arise, be there to step in in a heartbeat.

Swan Rehearsal

We had our first Swan Lake rehearsal today.
When we got there, seven girls were missing, one of whom was also a cover, which left us four covers with six spots to fill. We sort of went by height, and then just left the other two spots for later.
I was the cover for my friend Adrienne, since she is one of the tallest.
It went really well, and I think we learned a good chunk of the swan bit. I wouldn’t say it was all that hard, but definitely takes immense stamina and dedication with attention to detail. It’s not for the faint of heart.
The swans are all–obviously–part of the corps, but there are many different variations of corps work among it. Being the cover is turning out to be quite the endeavor. There are parts that are just mirrored on each other, then depending on if you’re stage right or stage left with determine which leg to begin on. Of course, Adrienne wasn’t part of that. she was in the back of the middle, which had the different bit. What’s more is that she is part of a section that consists of just her and one other dancer. It’s not really a solo since they’re all dancing at the same time, but it is different from everyone else.
Chances are once I teach this to Adrienne, I’ll never have to learn it again. So I had one of the girls in the middle part teach me the different part they learned. Of course, I didn’t retain it as well, but at least I get the gist of it. I also had one of the girls on the sides show me what it is they do so at least I’m exposed to it and if I’m thrown in one of those spots, it won’t be completely foreign.
I asked my friend who owns the DVD from our last production if I can borrow it so I can learn all the different sections, just in case.
Ps. Two of the girls that were missing showed up late, so the one went in her spot and the cover went in the other.

I sewed my Gaynor’s just in case we had to do pointe today, though I doubted we did. I put them on after rehearsal to get a picture for a friend who couldn’t be there, and then showed them to Mrs. Alex. Ms. Munro ended up coming over as well, so we discussed my feet and my shoes and how my knee doesn’t hurt, even after this rehearsal, and why I don’t do jumps in Julie’s class, and Ms. Munro agreed to not do grand plie’s and all that. Mrs. Alex even said these shoes made my feet look better. I don’t want them to cause me to be lazy, but it definitely is nice having the extra support in keeping my arch where it needs to be.
We are a bit concerned about the sizing on them, since my big toe literally hits the end and feels like it’s being pushed hard enough to make the knuckle bend, but Gaynor’s are supposed to give a bit with wear, so we’re going to see how that goes.

After assisting class on Friday, I was talking with a friend who also teaches at the studio. She told me, very gently and tactfully, that she thought my shoes held me back at auditions. I told her about the fitting earlier this week and how I got Gaynor’s, and she agreed that they sounded like the best option. She has similar issues and was able to give me even more insight on how to help with it.
I swear, if it wasn’t for my dance friends, I don’t know if I would be able to keep dancing. Their advice and input and support has literally been everything.

I’m pretty exhausted after today. Didn’t help that my body still hates me and food isn’t really my friend. I’m at a loss of what else to do about it.

I decided that on the days I get to rehearse for swans, I will tell myself, “You are a swan.” It helps me be more into it when we actually do it, rather than just feel like the title of “cover” is looming over me. I have no idea what the future holds. There is a very real possibility that I can do all this work and never get to dance it. There is also a possibility that one of the other covers could get it over me. I don’t know. I try not to think about it. I’m going to move on and keep going and do my best, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still hurt to think about. But, it also doesn’t mean I need to talk about it. I feel stupid mentioning it at all anymore. Like maybe people aren’t telling me everything and maybe I’m not as good as I think I am.
One of my teachers told me today to not take missing out on this role as a sign that I’m not good. She said that there’s probably more playing into it, and it may not be fair to me, but that it’s part of the deal. I don’t know how much of that is true, but you almost can’t help but believe that it is. Reality is, it’s a small town, and this non profit runs on money that I may not bring in simply because I’m older, I don’t have super loaded friends or tons of family dying to pay loads of money to see me dance.

My reality is that each day there’s another reminder of how much I wanted this, slapping me in the face, showing me I missed the mark. No one really knows what all is going on on the inside. But honestly, I don’t think that’s for anyone but me to know.
What good would it do to share that with anyone anyway? No one can change things. All I can do now is work my butt off and hope it’s not for nothing.
And limit my crying.
And not get overwhelmed as work starts getting more intense.
Ahhhhhhhhhh

Swan Lake Casting

I’m not a swan.
I’m cast, but I’m not anything exciting or impressive.
I have many thoughts and feelings towards this, mostly of disappointment and confusion. But I’m trying to put those to the side for this post. (As “Fight Song” decides to come on my Pandora)
I’ll make the most of it, like I do every time. I am the cover for the swans, along with a few other girls, but there’s no guarantee anything will come of that.
I talked to Mrs. Alex about it after class. I asked her what I could have done better. She said it’s just a really intense show with a bunch of pointe work and they really struggled with casting. That my name was heavily debated and thought over. She said she knows nothing she says can really help.
I just want understanding, ya know?
I thought I had proved myself with Oz, and with Nutcracker this year. I thought my hard work in class was being seen. I thought the fact they asked me to come to VI’s meant they saw me. And she said they did. She said they see how much I’ve improved and how hard I work. I just don’t understand.

But it is what it is. What can we do about it now? Nothing.
Take my roles and do the best possible in them.
I’m struggling personally because I let myself get hopeful. I let myself believe my friends when they said I did well and I had it in the bag. Mrs. Alex even said I auditioned well, that she was impressed. She said she saw my en dedan turn when I did do it.
I just wasn’t enough.
And everyone tells me there’s always next time.
Except I don’t know if there is.
I mean, technically we never know. None of us. But really, I’m not getting any younger. There’s only so many things my body will let me do, and time isn’t kind. I’ll never see Swan Lake again in my dancing days.
Next year I’ll get Lilac and Snow, because it’s the next in line. It’s not a challenge. It’s not anything that will take more effort than is expected, or whatever.
I just don’t understand.

I honestly feel like I’m grieving. The loss of this role and this dream. The realization that I’ll realistically never reach some of the things I strive for, that my heart longs for.
Not everything is attainable, no matter how hard you work and try.
And you have to find a way to be okay with that.

Swan Lake Auditions

Swan Lake auditions are now behind us.
(we survived, thank God.)

Friday night, Annika and I stayed at the Munro studio after the class I assist to work on a project she has for school, as well as a few things for auditions. She helped me with my chaines and jetes and the darn tombe, coupe, jete which I despise. Most of what I have to work on will take thought and time. She helped me get the feel, which is the biggest hurdle.

Saturday began back at the Munro studio to work the front desk during classes before my audition since everyone else was downtown for the first audition group. I think it ended up being good for me, so I wasn’t just sitting in my house drowning in nerves, waiting for it to be late enough for me to justify being early.
(The struggle is real)
We got there, registered, got our audition numbers, and the madness began.

We did a quick barre in our number order, then put on pointe shoes immediately for the rest of the two hours we had for the audition. Thankfully, I wasn’t in the first group, but I don’t know if that was really a good thing. Our group was pretty level in ability, which meant that there wasn’t really any advanced girls, which seemed to be what it was favoring. (I mean, obviously, it’s Swan Lake.) I think of all the groups, we probably looked to be the least together and able, but that’s going up against some hard hitters, so I don’t think it really worked too much against us as a whole.
There were a few things that were out of my depths, and even things they would have understood had I not tried. And I didn’t think I was going to on two specific things. One was really overwhelming for me in the moment and I got permission to sit it out, which was tough for me to even ask. But I was near tears and knew I was capable of the different steps, my brain just wasn’t wrapping around putting them together for some reason. But, thankfully, Mari is a doll and took a second to help me understand what was happening and I did it on demi-pointe to at least put forth effort. The other part was at the end and my toes were so dead I was afraid to try what they were asking would make me roll my ankle. (Keeping in mind the last time I rolled my ankle was when I pushed it at the end of an audition.) So instead of sitting it out all together, I did it on demi-pointe as well and didn’t beat myself over it.

We started with the different variations. They were pretty fun and actually not excruciatingly difficult. I mean, I couldn’t up and perform them right then and there, but I know I could learn them and be capable of doing them, which left me feeling really good. We had some bits that had turns I couldn’t do, which was really frustrating for me personally. I still tried, and did demi-pointe if I couldn’t manage, but it was definitely frustrating to be incapable when I know I should be able to do it. They were in two different variations, and the very last one, I said, “Screw it, I can’t do it, just do everything else well” and made myself include the sous-sous after the turn in that. Low and behold, the very last time, I got the turn. It was when we repeated it a second time, so I had just done the sous-sous and went in to do the turn again and managed to do it. So I left that segment feeling pretty okay.
 I started hearing complaints that they were saving the swan parts for last, in a “how dare they, what are they thinking?” kind of way, but really it made sense. Swans takes a ton of endurance, and if you can’t do it at the end of audition, there’s no way you’ll make it through performing. We did a core bit where you had your leg in arabesque (really Giselle-y) then switched to three brushes forward, then switched legs, and back to the brushes. If that makes sense. It had a lot of specific head direction, and was required to have your leg at least 90 degrees (consistently) as well as keeping in time with the people in front of you. I actually found this quite fun, and my knee held up for it pretty well. I know I have vast room for improvement, but the point of audition is to show you’re capable where you are, not that you’re perfect.
We then broke into groups of four based on height and did the first part of cygnets.
Thankfully, I’m friends with girls my height, so it was fun to get to do this bit with them. I knew I wasn’t able to do it all, especially with all the pointe work it required and the speed it required it, but I didn’t want to hold them back because of my inabilities. I managed to be able to do what I was able to do well, and the things I wasn’t as good at, I was able to maintain the same height as the other girls as to not throw them off. In the end it was fun! And didn’t leave me hating myself after, so that was nice.

Overall, we survived. And I think it’s safe to say this is the best I’ve felt after an audition. I’m a bit nervous, but I know I did my best and showed them what I’m capable of. I’m not really worried.
Regardless, I’m very excited to be a part. I’m grateful to have wonderful friends by my side throughout this entire process, and excited for this season ahead. I know it’s going to be long, exhausting, and slightly overwhelming trying to balance this, recital, and work but I also know I will be sad when it is all overwith. This is what makes me feel alive.

For the first time in a long time, I love my life. I love everything about it. I wake up and don’t dread anything. There’s stress and complications and things that aren’t perfect, but it makes sense. It has a reason. I’m not afraid of being kicked, so to speak, for no reason or nervous at what the world may throw at me.
I have beautiful people in my life that make the things that aren’t perfect more bearable. I’ll have insurance again soon and hopefully can get back to the doctor to maybe run more tests to see what certain foods are hating me. I’m not afraid of that either, which is nice. I like where I am, and I’m so grateful to get to feel this way.

(post Swan Lake audition)
I missed my friends so much that I stayed for festival rehearsal even though I didn’t have to be there. I love them, and I love getting to be in this environment and among these people.

(Mrs. Alex watching the run through. She’s so incredibly gorgeous it kills me. How she stands there, so poised, then nonchalantly busts out these complex moves with such grace. Gah, I love her. She’s a wonderful human being. I love her heart and how she wants to see us succeed.)

Post Audition polaroid.