Week off.

The past five days, I haven’t gone to work or dance.
I’ve learned tons and caught up on a million things I needed to get done, with about a million more that will be left unfinished (Among those is the pictures I’m currently editing, and the ones I won’t have time to finish. And laundry is waiting for me when I run out of time here. And the lady behind me at Starbucks has a really annoying and obnoxiously loud voice and of course I forgot my earbuds.)
My knees are feeling better, but we have Rat Queen rehearsal tomorrow, so that probably won’t last long. I have to learn how to press through it.
I’ve missed class to an extent, but I know I mentally needed a break. I’ve been forced to come to terms with certain aspects of my life that can’t change, and also realize certain other areas of strength. It’s been great to really take a breath and remember who I am and why without the constant buzzing of everyone else in my ears.
I think I may have liked it too much.

I took the headshots for the principal dancers as well as Ms. Munro and Mrs. Alex today. It was fun to be in the studio in real clothes, and to be around dance again. I’ll be there for hours tomorrow for rehearsal, which I’m hoping will go well now that I am coming into it with a relatively clear mind.
I’m not going to lie, there are certain people and elements of being around so many people that I am not looking forward to, but I know it’ll be okay in the end.

This is a short update, but an update nonetheless.
I’m going to get cracking on editing now and hopefully get this done.

Thursday class

There have been things in my life that have been sapping my strength and energy and focus, causing my brain to be rather cloudy and my reactions to be less than typical. I try to push through but I noticed myself losing focus during class yesterday.

(And people wonder why I try to keep my schedule rather clear. I can’t give all my time away when what I have for myself is used to tear me down to pure exhaustion.)

We had combined classes, and Mrs. Julie taught both of them. I was really excited when I found out she would be teaching. I’ve only had one actual class with her at the beginning of last semester, but I remember loving it. Then we had Oz which obviously was wonderful. We’re the same age and she’s really easy to work with, as well as a fun person, making her classes a great balance of enjoyment and work.
She pushes you. She expects no less than your best, and if you slack she’ll call you on it. But she does it all to make you better.

She worked us and worked us hard. She opened class saying that she understood this was a very mixed group, and she would give combinations starting with the most advanced. If it was too much for us, we could ask for option two and she’d give it. If that was still too much, she would give option three, and so on.
Sometimes they would ask, sometimes they were too shy.There were a few times when I asked if they wanted me to ask, but no one spoke up, so I didn’t. A couple of the girls still had deer-in-the-headlights looks in their eyes, so I asked if they were stuck on something. One of the quieter girls, who has recently started opening up, told me she just didn’t understand it. I broke it down a bit slower and did it with her, and by the end of it she had it. Sometimes just seeing the step can make things feel overwhelming, but when you can take it apart bit by bit, you see it’s not as scary as it seems and actually something you can handle.
(tadaaaaaa, life lesson right there.)

Usually on Thursdays we do Choreography and Variations, but since it was an augmented schedule, Mrs Julie did Ballet then Choreography.
I was totally okay with this. I had debated not going to dance yesterday since this week has been particularly difficult, but Elizabeth made a good point, “the kids will make it worth it.” And they did, they always do.
I did, however, leave after Ballet. My knee was hurting and I felt my back shift at one part (I had also just left the chiropractor with my next appointment being 2 weeks from now. sigh.) and didn’t want to be rolling all over the floor and make anything worse. Plus, being vulnerable is really difficult for me at this point in time since I’m so run down I can’t really make sense of things. It’s as though there isn’t a filter on my emotions, and I don’t want to be too much. Or talk too much. I can get really bad at not realizing my mouth is saying my thoughts when I get like this.
The girls were sort of shocked and sad I wasn’t staying. But I told them it was my knee and to be awesome like I knew they would be. They are such sweet girls. (Jazz hands after a combination to make Julie laugh was a pretty great memory, too.)
Some of them have been getting rather fearful recently. It’s sad to see, because you know they are incredibly talented and more than capable, but they’ve started to pick apart what they’re doing and only focus on where they fall short (or where they think they fall short) instead of focusing on what is right and building on it. Some of them are starting to hit that stage in development where this happens. My goal is to be as reassuring to them as possible to help them reach their goals and develop as few complexes as possible.

When Julie asked, I told her it was my knee, but also that Chipotle exists and I need it in my life.
She laughed.

I ended up staying to talk to Ms. Nancy, our receptionist, for a bit. She told me a few things that left me feeling very encouraged about my current standings with life, so that was nice.

After I left (and got Chipotle) Lillian text me so I went over to see her for a bit. I don’t think I’ve actually seen her face since the Beeville show, so it was really great to sit on her living room floor and laugh at her cat as she darted through a paper bag to attack a (toy) mouse while we talked about dance.

We got the schedule for how the classes in July will go, two weeks of which I will be gone. But I’m excited. I love dance, I love ballet. I wish I could do it more, but I’m so grateful for what I can do. I want to make it more of a priority and integral part of my life, but I’m not sure what that means for me quite yet.

I’m content where I am.

Next private lesson is tomorrow!

Summer

Summer classes technically started on Friday, but my first class was yesterday.
Many of the kids take during the day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but since I work that really isn’t an option for me. It’s okay, though, since the ballet classes are in the evening.

Our teachers vary week to week. Some of them I’ve taken class from before, some of them I know but haven’t taken their class, some I don’t know at all.

To say I was nervous going into this would be an understatement.

These teachers don’t know me. They don’t know all my issues. Do I tell them, so they’re aware and understanding? Or do I keep my mouth shut so they don’t dismiss me before I can even try? I want to be pushed but I’m constantly afraid of pushing too much. Where is the balance? And will they look at me funny for being so old? Surely they know from shows that’s where I am in level. Will I look too advanced for this class? What if I do just blend in with all these tiny kids. Will that make me feel like I suck? What the heck is even gonna happen? And will the kids get too distracted having me in there? Will I get overwhelmed? I don’t want to snap at them or something if I get stressed out at anything. And these new shoes hurt my toes. Am I even going to be able to dance? What other options do I have if they don’t make the shoe I had before, and this is the requested make of the shoe from before?

I knew the only way to remedy the nerves is to face them. After all, it’s either do that or don’t dance and the later ain’t happenin’. For being as positive as people think I am, I actually deal with fear and doubts constantly. I find myself afraid to hope because I don’t want to be disappointed. I don’t want to look foolish for getting my hopes up. I’m sure this comes from some long-ingrained childhood something or another and I’m trying to figure out what is there and how it affects me and how much of it is logical and how much is ridiculous. I did allow myself to have the hope that the class would help me in the way my first audition did being with the littles.

And it did.

Most of the class is quiet and timid. Most of the class consisted of II’s, but there was still the fair share of III’s and all of three IV’s. The II’s were mostly timid, but the III’s were confident.
They faced any challenge and even asked to try more difficult things. Including this complex, double-timed petite allegro combination that we all flubbed but was great to get exposed to. The teacher wasn’t even going to try it double-timed, but let us since so many wanted to.
These are the kids that will go far. The ones that are unafraid and willing to try anything without doubting their ability. These kids are who I want to be more like. These kids make this class wonderful.
They teach me so much about myself and about life.
Even if my fears are logical, even if they’re rooted in something that has happened before, you still have to try. You have to face them or you’ll never go farther than that moment.
These kids teach me that.

We had Mrs. Vanessa for our ballet class and Catherine for our pointe. They switched rooms and did the opposite for Advanced. I had Mrs. Vanessa once when she subbed our class. She seemed nice enough, but it was rough. I thinks he had been last minute thrown into subbing and wasn’t as prepared as she’d like to be. We struggled. But I still liked her. You could see that she is a great teacher.
Her ballet class yesterday was wonderful. It was a bit of a stretch for the younger ones, but it was great for me and the other IV’s. Really pushing our limits and challenging us. She even prefaced that she would be pushing us and to just do our best, but she wasn’t gonna go easy.
I loved it.
There were a few things she did with us that I want to remember to do on my own. Things at the barre that will greatly improve strength and balance. Then there were things we did that I never would have known how to do at that age at my old studio. These kids went for it. Sure, they weren’t perfect, but the exposure to it is what makes them so good so young. In a few years, they’re going to be incredible. They already are for their level. It was the kind of combinations that would have made me extremely nervous a year ago and that our class at instep would mostly stare at in confusion. Thankfully, at this point I had done all of it before so I was able to attack it with confidence, but some of it I only just mastered or grasped this last year–some even just during Oz.
I knew by the amount of sweat dripping (literally) off my face just during barre alone that I’d be sore in the morning.

Ms. Catherine came in for pointe, and I was curious to see how it would go. I had taken her class with the V’s this year, but only did it in flat shoes. I was fine to do it flat, but pointe would have been a bit much. Granted, I was in a class full of kids who have been shown most if not all of the things she asked of us, so I just bit the bullet and did it flat to not bring the class down. I was really grateful that she was teaching the first pointe class because she knows about my back being wonky, and I didn’t know how the new shoes would fair and it was just a lot of uncertainty for me.
They ended up hurting pretty badly. Since three of my toes are really short, my big toe does almost all of the work. It’s pretty complicated and can be rather painful. It was interesting how the shoes affected my feet in some places, but not others. For instance, usually my arches are aching pretty good by the end of class. This time, they were fine. They aren’t even sore this morning. My toes are okay today, but I need to make sure the pain isn’t enough to make me hesitate when I feel it while dancing. That’s how I can end up hurt.
I don’t know if I would have made it through with them on the whole class–except maybe first class stubbornness?–had it not been for the littles. They are so encouraging and really believe in you. To them, I can do anything, and I really want to spend these few weeks believing them.
We did pique turns, which I wasn’t sure how they’d go with the troubles I was having in the new shoes. I was afraid it would be like before with the hesitation and defeat. But I actually did them fairly decently. Better than I would say is typical, at least in the stability department. I’m still too afraid to pirouette on them just yet, but I’m hopeful that they provide better stability that I can do better if I can figure out how to not let them hurt so much.

I did get a, “Good, Emilee!” from Mrs. Vanessa during Adagio, but I don’t really remember what it was for. (I think it was adagio?) I remember when she said it thinking, “She knows my name!” and then thinking how good whatever it was felt right before she complimented me. I hope she teaches more of our classes.

Next Thursday we have a guest teacher from the Houston Ballet coming in. That’s what I’m really nervous for. They don’t know me, and I stick out like a sore thumb in this class, so I’m not sure what to expect. (Between looking 15, but being 26? Whatever. I’m not really worried about it, just nervous and curious)

Elizabeth, the doll, brought me some of her elastic so I can sew my Airess shoes for tomorrow’s class. She was also helping me evaluate how the shoes worked today and what I can do to try and get them to not hurt so much. She is a true gem. I have great friends in my life.
I’m excited for tomorrow’s class and hopeful my toes will hold out. If I had the private lesson yesterday I probably wouldn’t have made it.

Stay tuned on the continuing saga of Emilee’s anxiety-stricken summer classes! (just keep it in check, right?)

Post-show blues

I’m finding myself having a hard time dealing with the fact that Oz is over.
Maybe it’s a bit more extreme since the studio is also finished with classes until the summer session begins (which isn’t until June.) and I don’t yet have the means to really practice at home.

I knew I’d miss the show, but I didn’t really expect to miss dancing this much.
Usually when I have some sort of a break between classes, I’m sad, but I take it. Usually I’ll come back and be better; like my body needed the time off to come back stronger.
But this one seems to be a bit more grueling than is typical.

Maybe the fact that Oz was so wonderful makes it more difficult as well.
I know this wasn’t the case for everyone, but for me the entire experience was wonderful. I finally found myself in a place where I felt like I mattered and wasn’t wasting my time. Where I was doing something I actually enjoy for myself and not because everyone tells me it’s something I have to do.
I was committing myself to be part of something bigger than me, and given the liberty to do so.

Now I’m facing change and new.
Summer classes will be different than anything I’m used to. Classes I can take will only be twice a week. It will be a mixed group of people and whether I will be on the advanced or beginning part of that spectrum is up in the air. It will only be for a month, when I will be gone for two weeks, and not sure what classes (if any) happen after that. Next year I will go into a different level with different teachers and different people bringing different experiences. Whether I still take the 4’s class is also up in the air and will probably depend on a few different factors.
I know all these things will work themselves out and I will be fine, but the before always makes me nervous when new things are ahead. I’m not freaking out, though, so please save your opinions for yourself.
I do realize this could be a year of wonderful up ahead. I realize it could be painful. I realize it could be fulfilling or disappointing or both. There are so many factors and we will take them as they come.

One thing I have learned having to go to the chiropractor is what trust truly means.
When your back is jacked up and you have to rely on these people you don’t know to take care of you, letting yourself not freak out at the fact you’re half naked on the masseuses table with someone whose real name you don’t know is touching your bare back, or someone else is asking you to lift your shirt so they can place the treatment spots on your lower back, or you’re lying flat on your back and you absolutely cannot let yourself tense up as the chiropractor pops your neck in ways that resemble murders you’ve seen in movies–you have to trust.
And when you trust, it isn’t always broken.
Sometimes it’s wonderful, and you have better range of motion, and your neck feels like a weight has been lifted, and your back begins to improve.
Sometimes good things actually happen to you and you have someone believe you when you tell them that something feels like it’s off and it turns out it was neurological and this could lead to answers for other things you’ve been searching for for years.
Maybe not.
But you know that since these people haven’t abused your trust thus far that they can be trusted in the future.

So it goes with ballet.
Trust that you’ll be exactly where you need to be, just like you have been all alone.
Leave yourself open to meet more wonderful people like you have in the last year.
Keep your mind open to new opportunities that could arise.
Choose to see the best even if disappointment lies ahead because–honestly–how can you top an experience like the one you’re leaving?

Life will work out exactly as it’s supposed to.
Don’t worry.

How you got there.

I was re-reading through some of the blog posts of when Oz first began rehearsing today. I really wanted to see the difference from when it began to when it ended. Now that it’s just a memory, there are certain set things I’ll subconsciously choose to remember over others, and this show has had no shortage of happy memories.
But what made them so happy? What made them strike so deeply to stay with me the way they did? I have memories of it, but I really wanted to read my thoughts on it and not just rely on what I remember. Future events have a way of skewing how we remember beginnings because now we have the advantage. We have the full picture. Nothing is uncertain. The story is written.

(This is one of the reasons I love blogging and journaling so much. Memories are wonderful, but there’s something about the full story–the beginning, the process, the finish–that helps you get more out of it; more out of life.)

I remembered that there were hard days. I remember going home in tears a couple times. I remembered struggling and hoping I would improve. But I had forgotten how far I’ve really come the past few months.

Now I know what people think of me. Now I know that I’m loved and accepted here. Now I know that I am capable of doing these roles that were a bit of a reach for me–not just do them, but do them well.
Now that it’s done, I know it’s possible.
But what about then?
The days when the future was uncertain. When I had to go forward in blind confidence, hoping that it would be enough. When I didn’t know if I was cast for this role out of an obligation to my level, or because they thought I was capable.

Everything that happened to me the last few days of Oz are wonderful, but what makes them sweeter is remembering the beginning. The fears I overcame. The victories that resulted. The kindness I was shown. The work ethic that I learned. I can look back and see the path these friendships took as they were being formed, which can be forgotten now that the friendship is set. Does that make sense?

Celebrate where you are, but never forget how you got there.

Just a weird day.

Yesterday was a rough day, and if you asked me what was wrong, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you.
I tried figuring it out, but I couldn’t get any solid reasoning.
It was just a weird day.

These happen occasionally, and usually when they do I find myself wanting to be around nobody. Not because I don’t like people, but because people tend to not understand when I’m quiet and not my “happy, bubbly self” and that can prove to be really overwhelming to me.

I debated going to dance class. I love dance and it makes me feel most alive out of anywhere and is one of the few things that can shut off my over-thinking, but sometimes it can prove counterproductive.
I was afraid to go in case this was one of those counterproductive days.
Those are the most difficult.

I got a simple text from a dance friend asking if I had seen the sky today. She said she looked at it, saw how particularly beautiful it was that day and that she needed to tell me. I smiled. I knew I needed to at least try to let dance be what I hoped it would be for me today. If I didn’t go, then it would for sure not be a solution.

I let myself cry the whole way to class. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you that, because it’s an extremely vulnerable thing for me to say since people don’t typically see me sad and I don’t want pity or whatever, but it’s part of it so there you go.

(anyway)

I get to class and there are only four of us there, three being from the Jazz class before our ballet class. I was quiet, and one of the girls noticed, but I tried to be level and normal about it.

We start class, and Mrs. Alex is using classical covers of popular songs that I have never heard before. My heart begins to feel lighter.
We started with simple plies at the barre, focusing on our epaulement and not just going through the motions. I felt a little bad because usually when she explains something, I’ll try and be encouraging, showing that someone is listening and that what she’s saying is making sense, because I know the girls typically stay quiet. (at least the ones there yesterday.) But even I was quiet.
We went through the next combination, and Mrs. Alex walked around and gave corrections as she saw them. At one point she said, “Take a breath, make it fluid.” And I literally took a breath as I went along. Mrs. Alex happened to be looking at me and she said, “Good, Emilee!” As she continued on. When we finished, and she explained different things to fix and corrected a few girls specifically, she mentioned me, and how I did really well at making it fluid.
This is new to me. This is something I really want to work on, but have never really done successfully. Honestly, I just thought of my friend Abby, who is one of the principals, and how she does barre work and how she makes it fluid and being like a little kid and pretending I was her because imitation has to get you closer somehow, right?
Apparently.
My heart began to lighten.
I’m doing something right. I’m improving.
It’s not a mistake being here. I belong. And not just because I feel good at the moment.

Class carried on and we did things in the center and from the corner.
One of the songs was a version of The Pink Panther which instantly makes you feel like you need a trench coat and hat. Mrs. Alex says that the combination is going to be an ode to Crows and begins with a bit of the choreography from the Oz role. It ended with a pirouette in plie, which was unheard of for most of the girls. (so. much. fun.) The whole combination had me feeling great and really loosening up. The girls had fun with it and really started getting the hang of the whole thing.

Then we did a move we had never learned before, which shocked Mrs. Alex. I don’t remember the correct name for it, but essentially it’s a prance-y, soutenu turn in the air. They feel really funny at first, but look really cool. I was glad to get to learn them.
(This is my favorite part about taking Tuesday classes. We don’t work on recital so we are able to learn new things that we’ve seen but never tried.)
By the end of class we were getting the hang of them, but still a little funny. I asked Mrs. Alex to dumb it down for me since for some things I have to have an extremely technical breakdown for it to click. In this case, I was trying to hard to land it in fifth instead of chasse-ing through fifth. After getting that tip, I was better able to understand and execute the move. Still a little rough, but better, and it will improve with practice.
As we were leaving, I asked Mrs. Alex what I need to think about to better improve my grande jete’s. We never really went over them at my old studio, so I just kind of go about life pretending like I’m doing them right but I’m not very confident in them. I asked if it would be the plie, since that’s what I struggle with the most with my knees.
She gave me a look of confusion.
“Your jete’s never look bad to me. Not that I’ve noticed.”
I laughed and was awkward like I usually am and mentioned that they feel like they just kinda cap. Like I’m a sheep jumping over a fence rather than a split in the air, if that makes sense. She said she didn’t notice but she’ll start paying more attention to them now.

So I’m not as bad as I think I am?

After class, while speaking to our receptionist lady about crocheted blankets, I asked how the summer classes work. I know they have workshops during the day that I won’t be able to attend because of stupid work, but was curious what was available in the evenings. She highlighted the ones available on the entire spectrum and told me pricing for the different options (a bit steep for me, but I’m going to find a way to make it work somehow. I have to dance.) and I noticed that they were a bit more advanced. I said, “Will I be able to handle these classes?” and without missing a beat she said, “Of course you will! You’re one of the most confident dancers I’ve seen!” I laughed. And in my head is an ongoing dialog about how I’m really not confident, I just fake it til I make it because the repercussions of pretending you’re confident are way easier to handle than showing your insecurities. If no one knows, then you only have to deal with yourself.
Fake it til you make it.
But then my friend Andie was next to me, and she told me that I would be find.
“Emilee, you did advanced classes at Instep. You’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, but when you had to drop recital and I was the cover, she reblocked it because I couldn’t keep up. And if this is on pointe, I don’t know if I can handle it.”
“You’ll be fine. You can handle it.”

The thing with Andie is, if you can’t handle it, she’ll tell you.
If you’re just not there, she’ll tell you.
(only if you ask, though, she’s not a jerk just flaunting her opinion.)
She’s a really good friend to have, especially in the dance world, because if there’s something that needs work she’ll let you know and help you figure out how to improve it. Especially with turns.

It struck me to hear that the things I used to say as a sort of buffer so that people knew that I knew that I wasn’t all that good used to be accepted by people, because they were relatively true. But now when I say them, people are telling me they’re not true.
And I don’t think it’s just because they’re nice.
There’s a difference. A facial expression, a tone, a certain pitch their voice will take or words they’ll use to skirt around the topic.
Those weren’t used.
Andie said I could handle it.
And she’d be the first to tell me if I couldn’t.

I’m glad I went to class yesterday.

"When I mess up on something, I give up."

Yesterday one of the girls admitted something to me after class.
“When I mess up on something, I find myself just giving up. Like if I can’t get those jete’s, then I just stop trying.”
She continued to tell me about getting so angry at herself. It completely defeats her.

I let her in on the secrets of how I escape this, even though they aren’t really secrets. Still, it took me a few years to learn these things, and they have helped me tremendously.

  • You only go as far as where you give up.
    I don’t remember where I first heard this concept, but it’s stuck with me. Even when I felt completely defeated, I refused to let myself walk out of the studio, and I did my best to at least attempt whatever it was (unless I knew it was dangerously out of reach, but that is rare. Usually it’s fear.)
  • Failure is how you learn to fly
    It’s hard to try your hardest and it not be good enough, especially in ballet. We are some of the biggest perfectionists out there, and are really good at tearing ourselves apart. We have to be in order to go anywhere. But there is a fine line between criticism and constructive criticism. (if you haven’t figured it out, it’s the “constructive” bit.) You want to look at your progress as a teaching tool, not as a gauge of failure. It’s not about being better than anyone but yourself. If we aren’t allowed the room to be less than perfect in class, then what’s the point in coming? We are all in the process of learning. We are striving for perfection, but we are not expected to be perfect. We have to try things before we can succeed in anything. I find it helps to watch kids attempt things; to mimic what they see the older dancers doing. They don’t look  perfect by a long shot, but they get the feel for it and before you know it you see them again and they have it down better than you. Because, wouldn’t you know, they didn’t give up.
  • Leave yourself room for your humanity
    Even the greatest dancer has struggled. Ballet isn’t great because the people are born great, it’s because they strive for greatness. Sure, some people are born with genetics that give them a bit up an upper hand, but that’s the exception, not the rule. If it were the rule, I would be hopeless.
    But I’m not hopeless. Neither are you.
  • Watch the better dancers, pick out their flaws.
    She responded to this with, “That’s mean!” But then I explained.
    I don’t pick out their flaws to judge them, I pick out there flaws to judge myself. I noticed about this time last year that if you stared at a professional dancer’s feet, they weren’t always completely stable. Makes sense, right? Since she’s balancing her entire weight on two toes for extended periods of time. But we get this image in our head that they are flawless, when the truth is the opposite. That just means they’re doing something right, because we are supposed to appear flawless, even if we aren’t. If I see a professional, or a more advanced dancer struggling to hold their balance, I think, “that’s what I do!” and I see that if she can do it, so can I. Does that make sense?
  • If you’re not confident, go with someone better than you.
    I kinda learned this at my old studio, but in a different way. She used to tell us if we weren’t sure of the step to go with someone who is so you can watch them. But now if I’m not sure of a step, I go with someone better than me because all those other people who are waiting for their turn, who are watching to get the step better in their brains before they go, they’re watching the good dancer. They may watch you, but chances are their eyes go to the super advanced dancer to see the step more clearly. This goes for groupings in center, too. If I’m unsure I try and go first, near someone I can see. chances are the other dancers are also unsure and they will want to watch someone who is sure. If that’s not you, they won’t watch you. Pressure’s off. People tend to think I’m really confident in my dancing when really I’m not. It just appears that way because of these tricks. And no one seeing my struggles until I’m confident enough to be seen. (the teachers still see me, so I still get my corrections, though. So that’s good.)
  • Realize dancers are typically selfish
    And not in a jerk-selfish way. They want to better themselves, so chances are they aren’t watching you dance to pick you apart, but rather to pick themselves apart. I used to be really intimidated to be in a class with good dancers, because I was so afraid of their opinion. As I got to know them, I realized that no one really noticed what I did about myself. They saw me as a good dancer and picked themselves apart, not me. They aren’t out to get you, they don’t think any less of you.
  • Effort is more important than talent.
    What I mean by this is, I’m not exceptionally talented in dance. I know I have a long way to go. But one thing I do have an advantage of is coming from a theatre background. I can play the part.
    Take Crows for instance. I haven’t taken a jazz class in 7 years, but no one knew that. Why? Because my face told otherwise. My face showed confidence, so everyone believed it, even if I was struggling with the step. If you don’t show that you’re insecure in your dance, then no one will notice. And if for some reason someone catches it, they tend to be way more forgiving and understanding. If you put forth effort, it shows that you’re willing to work towards becoming better than where you are currently. Just this week I saw girls from the III’s dance as well as V’s, but their faces made them look so miserable. That’s what set them apart, not their dancing. It shows the potential for success. It inspires the people who watch you, and that’s what we’re really out there to do. To make the audience feel something.
  • Refocus your anger
    Instead of going home and taking it out on yourself, refocus it on bettering yourself. This doesn’t happen over night, but it’s a good use of that angry energy. Take your anger and pick apart what you did wrong. Then work on figuring out why you did that wrong and how to fix it. Focus on fixing your mistakes rather than being angry that you made one. Be proactive in your anger. Also,
  • Enlist someone you trustThis takes a bit of vulnerability, but it is so worth it. Find someone you trust and ask them to watch you. For me, this is typically Andie and Annika. I know I can go to them and have them watch me do whatever step I’m working on. They’ll see it and pick out what it is that I can’t see (usually turns) that is making me falter. They’ll tell me in a kind and beneficial way, not in a way that tears me down or belittles me. (I think this is what we are generally afraid of. But we know friends won’t hurt us, and if they do they shouldn’t be your friend.) Ultimately they want to see me succeed, and if they can help me to success, I know they will. Ps. This is how I got the pirouette down for Nutcracker. That thing was really difficult, but Andie watched me and pointed out that I dipped my leading arm instead of staying straight and locked. A few tries later and I had it down. Like jumping off the diving board into an adults arms. They won’t let you fall or tell you anything to make you drown.
  • No one is born perfect.
    In this case, I used Annika; someone I’ve seen rise to greatness, and someone they only know as great. I told them how two years ago when she first came in our class, she was as good as Ileana–someone who has great potential and you know will be good, but still has some things to learn and perfect. Last year, she was Lauren–someone that you looked at and saw that she had talent, and you were excited to see where she would go, but still is on the journey to get there.
    This year, she’s Annika–the mirliton right out the gate. The understudy to a principal role. The seeming prodigy who seemingly has shaken the studio in the best way possible.
    She didn’t get there over night; it took a lot of work. But it pays off.
  • Do what you love.
    Remind yourself of why you come to class everyday. What is it about dance that makes you love it? Show that in your dancing, even if you’re still struggling. My friend Annabelle is one of the greatest examples of this. She has no fear when she dances, it makes her come alive. So what if she wasn’t perfectly turned out that time? So what if she messed up the arm in the first run through? So what if she mixed it up that last time? The teacher may see it, but they know that you know you missed it and that you’ll correct it next time. If it becomes a pattern, then they’ll say something. Allow yourself the room to feel free. 

This is all I do, what I remind myself of, and I’ve had people look at me like I’m a better dancer than I actually am. It’s about being confident in yourself, which is sometimes hard to figure out how to do.

This doesn’t mean that you’re always so happy with how you did that class and things go perfectly–that’s impossible. It means that you let yourself actually enjoy what you’re doing and allow yourself the room to grow and improve. This is how you will excel. This is how you will succeed.

Ps. Ms. Alex complimented me in class yesterday. I usually struggle to keep my knees straight, especially at the barre. Apparently my hip being jacked up has caused me to think about this more, in turn making me engage all the muscles I need to and–tadaaaaa–straighten my knees.
It made me feel really good 🙂

progress

It feels really good when you’re in a class with dancers more advanced than you and you are able to keep up.
Usually I struggle.
Usually I get the concept, but not the full combination.
Usually I mess up direction or can’t even attempt the arms.

And, sure, there were a few times I messed up the arms or forgot to do the exact arms asked, but for the most part I kept up. I was able to pay attention not just to doing the step, but to the artistry of it. I was able to hold the balance and promenade without dropping the leg or falling out of it completely.
Granted, I was on flat shoes, and it would have been a bit more difficult en pointe, but I was able to do it in flats and work on the artistry rather than struggling with just getting through it on pointe. But even so, to know that I wouldn’t have been way over my head on pointe either was a really nice fact.

I finally feel like I’m growing, and it’s a really nice feeling.

It’s been storming here all last night and today. I almost didn’t make it to work and part of me wishes I would have come. (darn needing money.) But I think it’s cleared up enough to still make today’s class, so I am very excited about this. I had to miss last week because of my back, but I really want to be there.

Dance is the best thing in my life right now. This weekend left me in a state of euphoria, making coming back to reality really difficult. I can only hope that one day my life will be filled with things that leave me euphoric, and not things that shoot me down and stress me sick (especially when it can be avoidable. I get that life isn’t perfect, I’m not asking for it to be. I’m just asking to not have to subject myself to pointless abuse.)

3 cheers for dance

Center yourself.

Ms. Lori is just one of the greatest humans on the planet.
So forgive me if I talk about her too much.

In yesterday’s class, Ms. Lori had us do a few combinations at the barre, then hold releve passe (or a couple different positions as well) and take a second to close our eyes while we held it, then open them to finish.
We did it, and it was weird. (I have this thing where if I close my eyes, I can be completely fine, but I’ll start to second-guess my balance and throw myself off if I don’t open them before too long. It was fun to challenge that.)

But she had a good pointe

She asked us if we felt different when we were on stage. The lights, the vastness of it, all the things that were different–did that make us nervous? Does it shake us up?
She wanted us to close our eyes. To find a way to center ourselves, no matter what is going on around us. That even if the world was shaking, we could still remain composed and not let it shake us.

Ms. Lori always has such great analogies and wisdom.
And the girls in this class really soak it up.
And it shows.

To say I’m grateful would be a vast understatement.

It could be worse.

This weekend had me laying flat on my back most of the time.
The pain in my back seemed to only be increasing, or at least remaining the same. Thankfully I didn’t have rehearsals or any really strenuous activity scheduled, so I was able to stay in bed and edit pictures and crochet while watching movies that ripped my heart out followed by Parks and Rec to take the sting out (until I get to the season finale, at least.)

We had the V’s class yesterday. I was a bit nervous to say anything to the teacher because she seems to be the most passive out of all the teachers I have. Not that she doesn’t care, because I truly believe she does. I think she just has a different teaching style than most. I don’t believe that I am wasting my time or anything by taking her class. I learn a lot and she will even correct me if I need it. This just isn’t something she does as commonly as other teachers may. Sometimes, though, approaching her feels a little awkward. Maybe it’s because she’s closer to my age, I’m not sure, but I was nervous about saying something and looking stupid. (I really hate the feeling of looking stupid.)
She wasn’t there, for some reason, so instead we had Ms. Munro. I was able to tell her daughter about what was going on before class which I was grateful for since I’m not sure if my appointment today will cause me to be late or not, but this was a good time to tell Ms. Munro as well and not feel awkward. I told her the brief synopsis of what was going on and she understood and I started class feeling good. There was a moment when she caught herself going to get onto me, but then remembered my arabesque could go higher but probably shouldn’t right now.

My hip was hurting by the time class was over. At first I wasn’t sure if it was actually hurting more or if I just noticed the pain more. I have this thing where once something is pointed out to me, I notice it. It has it’s pros and cons, but since Thursday it has been a bit overwhelming. Mix that with (what I’m told is) a high pain tolerance, and things can get interesting. There are two ways I do know if a pain is something I should pay attention to. If it makes me tear up, or if it makes me groan. And not just groan out of complaint, but an actual involuntary response. (There’s a difference. I know the difference. It’s hard to explain.) Thursday was one of the “tear up” days and it turns out I was right to pay attention to it, so now I want to make sure I don’t overuse it and make things worse. Especially with Oz and recital so close.

I’ve had this irrational fear that something would happen to make me have to sit out one or both. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen it happen to people, or because I know my body is sort of angry at me all the time and there seems to always be potential for something to go wrong. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m so darn accident prone, I don’t know, but this year it’s felt heightened. I want to be careful to not make anything worse and do everything in my power to help my back improve.

I’m hopeful that in the long run this will be really good for me, maybe even help my dancing. It is also really encouraging to know that some of the places where I was lacking weren’t due to anything I was doing wrong or not doing well enough, but rather because of this underlying problem that can be fixed.

I’m also hopeful that I can get a full understanding of what is expected of me so that I can work to correct this issue and get back to dancing to my fullest potential. I’m a little nervous of how much maintenance this will require, but beyond grateful it doesn’t require surgery or to stop dancing.

It could be so much worse. I just feel really blessed to be where I am in life.