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.


  

Prove it.

It’s funny hearing people tell me how they read my blog and the varying degree of addiction it causes them. I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to it, let alone understand why people actually enjoy reading such nonsense. Nonetheless, I still write this nonsense. So I guess there’s that.

(Hi, y’all, glad to have ya!)

Before class started yesterday, I leaned over to two of my friends and said, “let’s treat this like an audition and see what happens.” If you remember my previous post, Ms. Munro made a comment that we all do so well at auditions and then slack off in class. So I’ve been running an experiment of what would happen if I took her advice.

The results have been astronomical (Imagine that!) and yesterday seemed to be the best thus far. Not only was I getting corrections, I was getting compliments. And not just ones I’ve heard before, but new ones on things I’ve been really working on. Mrs Alex said my arms were light and that I presented correctly and did the arm transitions well. I even got one by name. We were doing a combination at the barre where we did slow develope’s and ended with a tendu in fondu. (I think. Somethings like that.) it was a nice, slow, even tempo combo and felt really good to do. Everything seemed to click so I really did my best to do everything I’ve remembered being taught as well as implementing the corrections as she said them–heel forward, turn out from the hip, shoulder down, really present, straight knees, and on and on.

She happened to look at me at a develope to the back and my thigh happened to be lifted the proper was as I did the movement and she said my name when she complimented me. Then after even said my name again and that me and another girl were the ones she saw had it correct. Like. What? It felt so good, I can’t even find words for it.

I feel like I have to work really hard to prove myself. To show that I am capable and able to do what they ask of me. That I am listening to and want their direction. That I take this seriously and want to improve. That this is more than just some recreational thing. That this is something much deeper.

I was talking to one of my dance mom friends about some stuff going on and made the comment, “it’s just a dance, I shouldn’t be so upset about it.” And her reply really hit me.

“It’s not though. You spend as much time there as you do your job. And you are emotionally invested. For you it isn’t just dance.”

That brought so much peace to me. I’m so used to being told that I have to be strong. To suck it up and just get over it. To just take it. So used to it that when I find myself with these real emotions through something like this that it translates into “I must have done something wrong.” That I’m not enough. That I have to be better. That I can’t let them see me cry. And yes, I shouldn’t let it get to me enough that I get emotional in front of everyone. Dramatics are uncalled for. But I have to give myself room to be human. And it’s okay to do such.

Yesterday’s class made me feel like I am doing all I can to prove myself. That they see it. That however this cookie crumbles, I have done all I can. And that is something I can be proud of and that no one can take away from me.


(Hi. Hello. It’s me.)

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.

New semester

Classes have started back up for the new semester.
Our first class, the V’s class, was taught by Ms. Munro since our normal teacher wasn’t there.
I really liked this. I love a good Ms. M class.
She didn’t go easy on us, which was good. She corrected my arm placement, which I’ve now been trying to be conscious about. It also made me feel good to know I’m seen. That something subtle and slight is noticed and fixed. Now it’s my job to make sure she doesn’t have to correct it again.

We did pointe, which had a few elements that I normally would get nervous over or avoid. I was unable to do some of them, but not without trying first. Partially was because my shoes are nearing death, so I didn’t want to risk the rolled ankle before auditions. I didn’t walk away from it afraid of these steps, though, so that is a big step for me.
Also, when it came to doing pirouettes, I was actually able to get around. Ms. M wanted doubles, but I was very satisfied in my solid single for now. It can do with improvement, and I definitely need to spot my head more, and get a better plie, but it’s a vast improvement from what I am typically capable of. I will take it, and work harder to make it better.

I seemed to mess up many things that shouldn’t have been difficult, but I just brushed it off. No sense getting worked up over something I know that I can do. It’s whatever.

Ms. Heidi’s class felt really good. We started working with some ideas she’s playing with for recital, and I was excited to see what she’s got going. I was nervous, but I think it has a lot of potential. I wish it could just be the girls that were in class on Monday–the ones who are always there. The piece would look so clean that way. But I know that’s out of our control.
It felt good to let go and try new things. That’s my favorite; when I can let go and just dance. Not think about specifics or how technical it is or if I’m enough. Just dancing because I like to do it. And not being judged on how bad or good I am. I don’t have anyone to impress or anything to prove.

Yesterday’s VI’s class went fairly well, too. My stomach is doing it’s typical hating me ritual, which really puts a damper on things. I tried to push through anyway, and thankfully didn’t have to sit anything more out than I usually would because of my knees. And even so, I’m able to watch those things and mark them and try to sort them out in my head so if I ever do have to do them, I can at least have some grasp of it to be able to attempt.

We started working on recital, which is super exciting. It’s a bit of a stretch for me, as I typically screw up a lot in the beginning of things. But once I have it down, I nail it. So I did my best, wrote down what we learned, and plan to go over it until I have it on the right count and my lines look good.

(I am so excited to be in this piece.)

Instead of working in the small studio, I watched the Advanced Jazz class. It was really cool to get to see them work on something that isn’t so technical. The girls in that class have a lot of talent, some I never really noticed before. But gosh, is it evident now. It made me want to just take a million pictures and capture what I see.
It was cool as well to watch Julie as she came up with all of this. Seeing her mind process and these sections of the dance come to life. Watching a master at work.
I sat there, watching and thinking, “I wish I could do that.” And it was then that I realized, “This is exactly what I do with words.” Whether its words people ever see or not, it’s the same process. My grammar may not always be perfect and sometimes I really like run-on sentences, but the concept is the same.

Words are my dance.

Tuesday

It’s been rather humid here, lately, which causes our floors to be sticky and our barres to turn our hands colors. Thankfully, yesterday’s class was the class I do on flat shoes, so I had less of a risk than the other girls. Consequently, the sticky floors helped me be able to control my turns so I had the cleanest single turns I’ve probably ever done.

There were quite a few challenging elements in class, but most of them were petit allegro which I am unable to do because of my knee. This is great and terrible at the same time. I want to be able to do these things, my body just doesn’t let me, and that is one of the hardest things to accept. To have these visions of things you could potentially do and accomplish, but are unable to because of physical limitations that have little to no explanation. I have to accept that there may be some things I can never accomplish, and others that I will have to work much harder to find adaptable ways to accomplish, which will more than likely take longer. This just is how it is. It isn’t fair, but it is life.

I was able to mark the combinations; to try and get the pattern and rhythm and direction of the movement so if one day I ever can do it, my brain will be familiar. That’s half the battle, right? I flubbed up here and there, but it wasn’t anything dire. Most of it was just human error, which you learn from and do better next time.
Mrs. Julie showed everyone our recital costume, and played with a bit of music and some movements to start getting a feel for what she wants and what we can do. It never struck me to be afraid or nervous about recital until yesterday. What if they have an element I can’t do? I mean, I’m not really worried about it, but I am a bit nervous.
I’m trying not to think about it too much, though. No need to dwell on something that might not even happen. The music we were playing with yesterday was quick, but fit the vision well. I wasn’t absolutely perfect with it, but I understood the bits she gave us and felt confident if she used any of that, I would be able to work on it to get it clean and blend with the rest. 
Even just playing with it all just made me so excited to even be a part of this piece. I mean, four years ago I was the kid crying in the corner, absolutely certain that I would never get those steps that challenged me to the point of tears. That there was no way I could improve enough to be in advanced. It was just too fast, too complex, too much. And here I am, taking the advanced class, holding my own. Sure, I’m in flat shoes, but two years ago I couldn’t even do this class in flat shoes. The thought of triple beats on frappe’s seemed outlandish, same with beating jete’s or assemble’s or anything else. Granted, I haven’t been successful with those yet (thanks knee) but my brain is starting to process how they are executed, which is loads more than I had before. I thought for sure when Instep closed that my opportunity to be in an advanced class had closed with it. I didn’t expect going into my second year at Munro to be told by the teachers that they thought I should take the Advanced class. It never entered my mind before it was put there. And here I am, in this class, no longer a beginner.

As Mrs. Julie was showing the complex, quick, million-beats petit allegro combination, you could hear a groan or two from the girls about what she was asking. Mrs. Julie said, “it’s good for you” and it just kind of all clicked in my head that it is. You could see it on a few girls. They wanted the challenge. They understood that you have to try to improve. If we never try the entrechat six, you’ll never achieve it. Even if you look like a flopping fish your first couple times, that’s what class is for; to push your limits and learn new things while perfecting things you’ve learned. There are times when it’s good to just do clean versions of what you know, and then there are times to try new things you know you’ll suck at. If you do it enough, eventually you won’t suck. Eventually you’ll stop being the new girl panicking in the corner because you just don’t grasp the concept of a scissonne and you’ll become the girl in the advanced class.
We’ll always be learning, if you ever stop learning then you stop growing and why are you really there? Old dogs can be taught new tricks if they want it badly enough.

After class, I went into the small studio. Andie skipped a bit of her Jazz class and helped me out on my en dedans turns en pointe. I started with a few preparations to truly grasp the concept, then tried turning. I wasn’t getting enough of a plie to really get anywhere, and was getting frustrated with how I still “climb” a bit, but Andie said it wasn’t as bad as I was thinking. (Which, she’s the friend that will tell you the truth if it hurts, and won’t tell you something if it isn’t true.) I got the feel for it and the fear began to fade. Afterwards I felt confident enough to know I can try them in class. I still have a lot of work to do with them, and my en dehors turns as well, but that will come with time and work. I also find I turn better in class than when I try it on my own. If I’m looking in the mirror, I tend to fall out of it. If I face the corner, I have better success. (Although I tried the en dedans turns facing the mirror to see what my feet do and better understand it, so hopefully I got the feel enough to do it to the corner.)
(It’s all a balance.)

Today I have my tap class, which I missed a step she wanted us to learn and know for our recital piece. Thankfully, Cheyanne and Judy made sure I was shown the step this weekend and helped me understand it until I got it. I still need to work a little more so I can get a bit quicker, but the hard part is over thanks to them. It’s great having good people in your life.
If I wasn’t shooting a wedding this weekend, I’d be teaching three classes on Saturday. I’m a bit sad, but such is life. Gotta take it as it comes. (I think I’m more sad to be missing rehearsal, being that I can use all the practice I can get!)

(Maybe one day I won’t need to shoot weddings and can be more selective. That day is not today, though, but maybe one day.)

I just like that I love dance again. That I feel good and like I’m going somewhere; achieving something. 

Also here’s my feet.

"I know I don’t really know you, but…"

Yesterday was a weird day for me personally.
(Who am I kidding, its been a weird past few weeks.)
And part of me just wants to avoid everything, to be alone, to press the pause button and stay away from any human contact until the funk decides to pass.
This is, obviously, illogical and would also void me of learning some pretty valuable life lessons.
Sure, there is a time to take a break and put things on pause, but if you do that any time things get hard you miss out on opportunities to grow and become a better person, as well as little bits of light that lie just around the corner. You’d never have known they were there if you paused everything–if you avoided everything for a bit to catch your breath, you would have missed this breath of fresh air.

There’s a dance mom I’ve spoken to a few times; she lives out in our neck of the woods, has had similar health issues as me, knows who I’m talking about when I tell her about my doctor, etc. Her daughter is sort of new to our studio and they are friends with my beloved Rowland’s, so I automatically like them. Her daughter is a doll and they are really great people.
Yesterday was Julie’s VI’s ballet. It was a relatively smaller class than usual, but one of my favorites of hers to date. I stood at the barre by the mirror, which I’ve never done before. Matthew said I would hate it because of the tape, (I hate the tape) so I kept that in mind and tried to avoid it. But I actually found it beneficial when doing ronde de jambes. I was able to place it to where it was directly center so I knew when my foot was directly in front of and behind me. It helped me get the feel for it, and I could also hear the sound of it (so I’m not looking down) and know when I was where I needed to be and what wasn’t far enough or too far.
I was standing next to Jessica at the barre (my fellow Rat Queen) with Sean (Rat King) on the other side.
For some reason, this class felt good. It wasn’t overwhelming or leaving me anxious. It was a challenge, and I was determined to try. And not even in a huge, monumental way. I just told myself, “try your best, don’t quit early” and did it. My knee was largely cooperating which I think helped substantially, but I also think it was the combinations we were doing that were relatively easy on my knee as well.
Ironically, I was actually prone to messing up the combination, which is usually what I’m good at. But I tried everything she asked us to try. For some reason, my muscles were really sore when I woke up yesterday, which typically doesn’t happen, so I was already struggling in that department. I was also feeling pretty sick. (I had gotten sick a lot that night before and a bit that morning, but had it under control. It may have lead to me not eating enough for such exertion, but I did my best.)
(Helps that Julie is my age and gets it.)
She gave corrections to Jessica and to Sean. She may have told me something once, but I couldn’t really hear what she said and it was at the end of something.
I held balances longer than usual and really tried to get my attitude devant highter while maintaining turn out. (which was actually easier. So, hey, they aren’t lyin’!) That made me feel good about the class, too. That I was able to hold things in second, and get that attitude higher, and actually think to straighten my standing leg.
By the end of class, I was feeling pretty weak. I didn’t want to show it too much because I don’t want to be labeled as weak or incapable. I want to just push as much as I need to and then back off. I knew I was only there an hour, so I did all I could for that hour (having to do some releve on flat instead) and took a moment to breathe before I left to go home.
While I was breathing, there were a few dance mom’s in the foyer. The one turned to me and said, “I was watching you, in class.”
To which I responded, “oh, God.”
And she said, “You looked so good.”
I don’t know if I gave her a stank face or confused face or really what my face did or my reaction at all.
She continued, “I don’t know the terms for things, but you had your arm out like this, and it was perfectly timed to your leg extending out, and your head and everything. I don’t know what it’s called, but I do know what looks good and what draws me in during a performance, and you did that. You drew me in and you were beautiful.”
And meanwhile I’m sitting on my bench, in a state of shock that she was talking about me.
And I told her how one of my goals I wrote down for the year was to get my arms down. To look like Lauren, essentially. I want to figure out what it is that makes the difference she seems to have. I told her how at my old studio, my teacher always got onto me for my arms, and so I’ve been really working hard on them.
She told me again how impressed she was by me, and I sat there in that state of shock, and then thankfully remembered to thank her because in my head I was thinking, “But I wasn’t even actually trying this time…”
(I mean. I was in shock.)
I mentioned how I always wondered if I was doing it right. No one ever got onto me so I assumed it wasn’t wrong. Mrs. Jacie told me if I was wrong they’d definitely let me know. But I haven’t been complimented in class either to know it’s right. Which is probably a good thing. Because in VI’s, that level is what’s expected. So more often than not, you’ll just hear if you’re wrong. And this is good.

It’s not a compliment I often hear. And it’s not one really lounging around in my head.
To me, I’m just sub-par still. I have a ways to go. I’m improving, but still needing improvement. I’m not quite there with my fellow VI’s or even some V’s. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me and I shouldn’t get my hopes up because these classes are full of really great dancers so competition is fierce. How I’m an adult dancer, so I miss some of the things that are really taught as you rise up through the ranks and I’m left to figure it out on my own.
I am really in a good place to have resources to help me feel these gaps and people willing to help me, as well as dance friends and especially dance friends my age or older. I’m also in a great place where they are letting me take this advanced class to get the exposure.
To know that, in that advanced class, the one that’s really probably a little too much for me, someone I barely know noticed that I had the thing I want most in my heart to have when I dance… I can’t even explain.

I told her I was gonna blog about it.
Obviously, I was serious.

But really, it meant more than words could ever say.
Kindness is free, y’all.
I had a friend tell me once a few years ago that if you had a nice thought about someone, you should tell them. Doesn’t matter if you feel awkward about it, what would it hurt?
So now I make a point to give compliments, even if they’re awkward. Sometimes I lead with “This is an awkward compliment, but…” and they usually leave with a smile on their face.
Point being, you never know when its going to be exactly what the person needs to hear in that moment. The light to their darkness. The confirmation they have been hoping for.

Say it.

Also, I met my mystery comment-er yesterday!
I had received a comment on a blog this summer from someone who had found my blog and was taking the adult classes at the studio. I have no idea how she found it and had no clue who she was, but yesterday she introduced herself. Turns out, we both have a mutual love for the same London-based bag company and she noticed mine and complimented me on it. She hasn’t been able to take classes in the year since the adult classes start later, but I’m so glad she took in the summer and I really hope she does so again whenever they get earlier.
I’ve never had that happen before, and it was really cool.