A post.

I’ve toyed around with the idea of even posting this post.
Part of me feels like it’s pointless since what I really feel and want to say isn’t something I should put onto such a public platform, even though it’s something I’m very passionate about. Sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut, sit back, and pray everything sorts itself out. Sometimes speaking only makes things worse.

Part of me want’s to say, “screw it” and say it anyway. But that probably isn’t the wisest thing in the world.

Part of me wants to stay silent. Since speaking about things like this rarely gets accurate intentions across and it can just make you look like crap or people feel bad for you or whatever. Sometimes staying silent and fading into the background is so much easier.
Sadly this seems to be a luxury I can’t afford.
I love people, I really do.
But sometimes I just don’t have enough for myself, let alone other people.
This is one of those times.

Although sometimes helping other people can bring you out of a funk like this–or at least ease a bit of it–things have gotten extreme enough to where that’s not the case so much.
(Except very rarely and for very specific people, anyway.)
(Lookin’ at you, Valerie. Thanks for being awesome. Always down to help y’all in class.)

Thankfully, I’ve somehow found myself with a few incredibly selfless people in my life that I get to call friends.They’re the real MVP’s.

So I’m writing this post, because even though yesterday seemed to go to hell in a handbasket, there were a few things I wanted to note. Because what the heck this never happens.

I did my first solid double. Not en pointe, but whatever. I was trying, but not really, and it just happened. I wasn’t thinking, that’s for sure, and that’s probably why I was able to do it. And as soon as I realized what had happened, I could hear sweet Ileana behind me, “*Gasp!* Yay Emilee!” Which meant more to me than I could ever express. Sometimes I feel so very alone in classes, and that made me realize that I have these friends among me pulling for me, cheering for me to succeed. Celebrating when I do.
The next turn, however, was ridiculous to where I even stopped and pointed at my foot and said, “What are you doing?!” before I realized that I was indeed still in the classroom and in the middle of a combination. Oh well.

The next thing was how I seem to suck at jete’s, even though I’m built to be a jumper (thanks, stupid uneven hips) but managed to somehow do one that kinda actually got off the ground. Enough to where someone else noticed it and commented. I’ve come to terms with the fact that people don’t typically watch me. I don’t think about it, I don’t really concern myself with it. But it’s nice when you aren’t sure if you did something correctly or want to know if you improved to know that you have someone to bounce stuff off. And when it mattered yesterday, people were.

Things are still weird. Life is still hard. There’s still plenty that doesn’t make sense and many, many things I wish I could fix or change or even just say. But amongst all the crap, there’s still a bright spot here and there. And it’s nice to remember them.

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.)

Progress and regress.

In our V’s class yesterday, we did barre a little differently.
Typically, we do combinations that are quick or complex. Instead, Mrs. Alex had us do simple combinations with a lot of repetition. She had us focus on proper technique, rather than just trying to get through the combination and move on. I really enjoyed this approach, and I think we all benefited from it. It was great to take the time to really think about what we were doing and how we are to properly execute each movement.

I don’t remember exactly what the entire combination was, but there was one where we ended in a low arabesque on releve. I tend to struggle with this kind of thing–once I’m on releve on one leg, my turn out goes out the window. But as I held this arabesque on my shorter, weaker leg, Mrs. Alex came by and said, “Good, Emilee! Great turn out on that standing leg, nice straight knees, good!”

I think I made a face, because I couldn’t really believe she was actually saying these things to me. I looked down to see what it looked like, then tried to see it in the mirror. It felt right, but I didn’t expect it to look that right. I wasn’t really thinking specifically about achieving these things, as I usually do. I was shocked, and very pleased.

I got frustrated as we moved to the center and en dedan turns were there. I wanted to try them, but it just didn’t work. I didn’t know if I psyched myself out, or what. When we were going through, working on recital, there were a few moments when I was away from the others, so I tried them. Sure enough, I couldn’t get up. So I held the barre and tried the preparation. Okay, I could do that. So I tried the preparation away from the barre. I can do that. I tried the turn, nope.
I’m not sure if it’s because these shoes are already dead, or if it’s something else, but the struggle is real. I put it on the back burner, knowing at least I can do the preparation and work on it from there, and that I’m getting around in my pirouettes now. Most of the time at least. They could still use work, but that’s what class is for.
We did a few chaines, too, which weren’t as good as I was hoping, but somewhat better than before.
I’ll take it.

Cast lists should be out soon. I wish I could see it for myself without anyone telling me and no one watching me. This won’t happen. So whatever. It’s possible they could even come out today when I don’t have class, so we’ll see.

Stay tuned!

Classes

Whatever my stomach is doing, it’s sure having a good time.
I was only able to make it through the first part of class yesterday. I wanted to quit before the first part was over, but wouldn’t let myself. I knew if I could just make it through, I could sit out the second part, and I would be okay. I probably could have pushed it and done the second part, but I didn’t want to do anything halfway. I’d rather watch and really gain something than do a mediocre attempt at something I really need to work full out on.
Mrs. Alex understood, and told me if I wanted I could go home even. I told her I’d like to watch and get whatever in I could that way. I mean, I wanted to go home, but that doesn’t help me at all. And I was there already.
We ended up working on recital the last bit of class, so I was really glad I stayed. Especially with how many classes I’ll miss with tax season coming up. I’m really nervous about how all of that will work out, but I’m trying not to dwell on it too much. I’ve told most of my teachers, and they say I’m the least of their worries. So that’s nice at least. They’re confident I’ll be able to pick it up and be just fine. I have friends in the class that have said they’d help me learn what I missed as well, so that’s wonderful.

It was a bit hard focusing during that last bit of class. I was at the back and the farthest from Mrs. Alex, and everyone was excited about the music and talking or getting really distracted. I was trying to learn the part she was showing us, while having to do it opposite of what I’m seeing, all through the noise and distraction and people getting in the way of me seeing her. I didn’t lose my mind, but near about. I love this class, but sometimes it gets difficult with how distracting some of the older ones can be. Like, cool, we get it. You’re good. You don’t have to have all that we do, but be considerate that this is our class, not yours.

Recital should be fun. There’s so many people. Which makes it complicated. But that’s not really their choice, and I think it’ll be nice how it’s going so far.

Talks of Swan Lake are rampant through the studio. I’m trying to make a point to really use my upper body to show get me in their head before auditions. It seems to be at least doing something, because Mrs. Alex complimented me at one point by name. I got other corrections as well, which was nice. I wasn’t expecting the one when she said my name, and hardly realized it as it was. It was a good confirmation that I was doing what I needed to be doing so I can store that away in my database that what that felt like looks like what they want. I’m nervous. I just want to get it over with, but at the same time, I don’t want to do it. I will, but thinking of it has me all sorts of jittery. I just really hope I can keep a clear head all throughout. That I don’t get anxious or panicky when I see new things.

Here’s to hoping.

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.

World Ballet Day

I’m currently watching the portion of the live stream from The National Ballet of Canada.
They are doing their class warm up. So far, it’s fairly simple–all things I am more than capable of doing. It’s quite a large class, and as they pan from side to side, you see many variations of the same movement.
Plie, plie, grande plie, cambre, and 2nd. repeat. 4th, 5th.
Some people cambre forward in 1st, some cambre forward in 5th. Some back. You see some do different flexes and points at different times, or work and isolate specific muscles. You see some stretch different muscles than others, and some put their arms in 5th while most are in 1st, etc.
I thought of class last night with Mrs. Alex. We did this combination that ended in a ponche for our balance. It was on flat, and the arms were a little different. She made a comment that she thinks we can get our legs higher, and had us look in the mirror to see how high our legs actually were compared to what we thought they were. She told us, “I want you to just look at your leg. Not anyone else’s, just yours. I mean it! Don’t look at anyone else! It’s not about comparing yourself to other people.”
It’s about doing what we need, what’s best for us. It doesn’t matter how great or not-so-great the person next to us is. That is irrelevant. You can’t do anything about them. All you can do is work harder where you are with what you have.
If you watch the professionals, you’ll see that all of them aren’t the same, either. They do what they are capable of. If you’re truly a great dancer, no one will even notice if your leg isn’t up to your ear or whatever your neighbor can do that you can’t.

What I love about seeing this company, is you see them dancing for themselves. You can see it in them that they aren’t worried about the person next to them. You don’t see fear, you don’t see insecurity. You see them in their element. You see how seriously they take their art form. There’s something that they fully encompass that sets them apart, and is visible.
That’s what we want to achieve. To focus solely on ourselves and our own improvement. To become so fluid with the people around us that corps work is flawless. To accomplish that musicality.

That’s one of the most beautiful and enticing thing (at least for me) about learning the art of ballet.
We are all working towards the same goal. We learn these same moves in a language that is universal and timeless. It makes you part of a special kind of family, connects you to seeming strangers in a bond that can’t be explained.

I have made some of the most wonderful and cherished friends through ballet, and even more through World Ballet Day. It’s incredible. And really, there are no words to describe it.

Just love.

Here are a few screen grabs from the National Ballet of Canada.
I have more on my phone from The Royal Ballet that I’ll add when they back up and I can access them.
🙂