Defining lines.

Jilissa is putting together the steps for the winter showcase.
In doing so, she’s taking every chance to sharpen us and point out things we need to improve.

Today she spoke on the details. The “make it or break it”s. The things that are the difference between leaving the audience amazed or leaving them cringing.
She told us that as we watch ourselves in the mirror, we shouldn’t be watching the things we do well. Instead, we should be watching and examining our flaws.
If all you’re doing is seeing what you do right, you’ll never fix what is wrong. You’ll never notice it. Knowing is half the battle.
She had us redo the combination. She said, “I don’t care if your leg doesn’t get as high or your jumps aren’t as big. I want to see you focus on what you need to improve. That improvement will make up for everything else.”

It stuck out to me.
Like our lives.
If all we do is focus on and take pride in the things we do right, we won’t have much chance of improving.
What we tend to do is ignore our flaws, our mistakes, the things we aren’t too proud of. We sweep it under the rug and try to carry on this flawless dance. But that’s not how it works.
You can have perfect technique, but if your arms aren’t right, the audience will know.
You can live your whole life with “perfect technique” but when it comes to the “show” if one thing is flawed, eventually it’ll be found out.
Instead, face your flaws head on. Address them. Work on them. If you work on them, then you’ll improve. Sure, it’ll take time, but it’s worth it.
It’s what sets you apart, what defines your level. what can take you from Beginner to Intermediate or Intermediate to Advanced.
Take the time now to look at your flaws head on. you may cringe, but make the effort and you will see that your dance will be a beautiful one.

Believe in yourself.

Today was one of those days.
I was feeling confident going into it, I guess
But I was also at a point where I knew…

I need to man up and press myself harder than before.
I need to start looking in the mirror and seeing what I need to improve.
Can sometimes be a harsh reality, but it’s needed.
I need to get better.

I told Jilissa I want to be on pointe. Therefore, she’s gonna push me harder.
Today, I signed up for the recital.
No going back now.
So, I know I gotta man up and do better.
No excuses.

So, with a day such as this, there isn’t much praise.
Yes, I have my little victories;
Nailing the pirouette on both sides, remembering the combinations, being able to pay attention to the details of my arms.

So, class is over, and Jilissa’s at the end of the hall talking to a girl who was new to class today.
I hear my name.
“Emilee started taking once a week a year ago. Then started taking two just recently.”
I look up at her. She said, “Can you tell a difference?”
Me: “An enormous difference”
They continued on with their conversation.

Just a little thing, a moment. And in that moment, it’s like Jilissa’s telling me she sees my work and that I’m improving…
Now, I could beat myself up at the fact that I couldn’t do two classes a week sooner. That it held me back. That I coulda been better faster. That this was a criticism of the fact that it took me so long to get to where I am when all I needed to do was get in 2 classes a week.
But I know why I couldn’t get in earlier. I know how it killed me inside. I know how it kills me to not be able to do better from where I am now.

I just have to believe in myself. To know that I’m doing my best every day, and every class. That I take what I need and focus. To get my wits about me. To make the most of every moment I get to dedicate to it.
I have goals and dreams. As long as I work hard and believe I can do it, then nothing will stop me.

Little Victories.

I had someone tell me today,
“someone sure is proud of themselves”

There was a seemingly complicated sequence Jilissa asked us to do.
I was expecting to end up on my face. Instead, I actually was able to do it, and keep up.
Now, it wasn’t the most graceful thing, but my brain processed it.
I did a happy dance.

But see, that’s what I need to do.
Celebrate the little victories.
You can’t over look them. If you do, then you could end up discouraged before you give yourself enough time to reach the bigger dreams.

Because, see, the dreams aren’t just the bigger things.
The dreams are made of all the steps it takes to get to the big picture.
It’s the journey as much as it is the destination.

Tough.

I’ve had tons of thoughts to post on here.

Informative things Jilissa has told us
Interesting perspectives
Insight.

But, I’m not gonna back track and type all that.
Not now.

I had a conversation with Jilissa Thursday:
Me: I’ll be 25 next year. My goal is to be on pointe by then. Do you think this is possible?
Her: *Gimmace*
Me: I’m consistently in 2 times a week now. Work is letting me do that. I want to do 3 times a week as soon as possible…
Her: Let’s shoot for January and see where you are.

I was pretty excited.
This made me feel like I have something to strive for.
My dreams and goals in sight.
And this is bigger than just some fleeting bucket list idea
This is something I have wanted since I can remember
Something my grandpa used to ask me about
He’s gone now…
This links me to the parts of childhood that were happy.
About the only parts I haven’ questioned here recently…

Today, I was trying really hard
To focus, pay attention, soak up everything I can.
I couldn’t help but feel like I have a long way to go…
My flexibility needs major improvement
My turn out is pathetic
And sometimes when I get over zealous, it messes up my knee…

I got in my car after today’s class, thinking about all the ways it would be easier to focus if things were different.
Then I thought,
“I think sometimes you just have to lack something before you can really appreciate it. Lack makes you want it.”

Hah.
Is that what I’m going through in my life?
All this other hardship and questions and tears and breakdowns…
Is this the lack, making sure I really want it?

I guess we shall see.

Let it go…

Today was an exceptionally hard day for me.
And as soon as I thought it couldn’t get worse, I get a blow from left field.
I almost didn’t even go into dance. I was afraid that whatever it is making me sick would get in the way, or that I would not be able to do the moves and would get discouraged.
I came in the hopes that I would do better than when I practiced at home yesterday and had to stop after 4 pirouettes because of my stomach. That I would build confidence rather than build a mental block.
At the beginning of class, my right knee started hurting as I did my plies. It’s been hurting recently, but usually tolerable and usually I could focus and concentrate enough to avoid it.
Today it ended up with shooting pain in my knee.
Great.
I tried as hard as I could. I hate making excuses for why I can’t do things. Call me stubborn. But today with the combination of my stomach/pancreas/whatever and my knee, there were points I had to stop and catch back up when I could.
When we were doing floor work, she pointed out that a lot of us were stiff. Instead of looking like we enjoyed what we did, we looked like we were being tortured. Then she said three words that almost made me cry.
“Let it go.”
I feel like she was speaking to my life as a whole, as well as to dancing.
We dance because we want to. Not because our parents make us or we have any obligation. We know the steps, now we just need to let it go and enjoy the steps.
“I want to see your joy. The audience, they want to see your joy. Even if you’re shaken on the inside, show us your joy on the outside.”

Words to live by.

Just Keep Going.

Today was my first two-classes-a-week class.
I’ve been looking forward to it since the first class this week, and am so excited to get to be going more than once…
Plus, Saturdays tend to be a little easier, so it always has a way of boosting my confidence.
We had two new girls who had never taken a dance class before.
These girls always hold a special place in my heart, because I struggled so much at the beginning. (and still do sometimes.)
The last combination we did involved soutenu turns.
I tend to not be so awesome at these…
Our dance teacher told the new girls to make sure they went in a group of experienced girls so they could watch. We were going in groups of 3.
There was one group that ended up being short, so it ended up just being me and one of the new girls.
We made it through the right side. I got super dizzy… of course. I really need to work on my spotting.
I briefed the girl with me about how to do the left side, since she was just used to the right. We went over it really quickly and then went for it.  My soutenu turns weren’t as bad on the left side, for some reason… and when we finished I wasn’t as dizzy. I tried encouraging the new girl when Jilissa started speaking.
“Look at you! You’ve become the example to follow. I’m proud of you, Emilee.”

Me? Wait, what did I just do?
Wasn’t I just the one that looked the fool, stumbling all over my feet the whole time?
The one who would get so overwhelmed that I’d cry?
And now, I’ve become the example to follow, and Jilissa said she was proud of me.
This was quite the moment for me.

I really wish I could dedicate everything to dance. More time, more practice, more classes.
I’m hoping that this is putting me on track to get on pointe before 25.
I have a year and a month.
Annabelle is getting her shoes next month, so hopefully I can work hard and get there soon, too 🙂
I know Jilissa liked seeing me in a second class.
I loved being there.

But if I would have given up when things got hard, I wouldn’t be where I am.
Sure, I still have a very long way to go. Being hyperextended sucks and complicates things. Plus, I’m built funny.
But I know I can keep trying and keep going and not give up, and I’ll get there.

First Step.

I had a hard time when I started dance out for the first time again.
I had a lot of things working against me, but I couldn’t let that be my excuse.
It was a lot of mind over matter…

But what I had to realize was that everything my dance teacher was telling me was true.
I have to start where I am. Do my best, and don’t give up.
Still, I had a hard time believing a lot of it. I had a lot of stuff telling me I wasn’t gonna be able to make it. That I was failing, that I wasn’t trying hard enough–all this stuff.

First Step: Believe you are a dancer.
A dancer isn’t just someone who excels in every single bit of technique; or someone who is flawless.
A dancer is someone who simply does one thing: dances.
If you take a dance class, congratulations! You’re a dancer! No matter if you have virtually no turn out, if 16 releves kill your calves, If you don’t know what a sisone is yet, or if a day of practice makes you cry.

You’re a dancer.
And if you remember that, if you accept yourself where you are, if you believe that with practice and dedication you will improve, then you will do just that.

Take the first step. Start where you are. And keep going. Don’t give up, no matter how impossible it seems. No matter if your brain can’t seem to register the seemingly simple step everyone else seems to master, or if you leave practice crying more times than not.
Keep trying.
You’ll get there, I swear.
You are a dancer. Believe it, and watch yourself grow.

Do Hard Things.

This was our conversation in dance class today with our teacher, Jilissa.

Jilissa: Ballet isn’t normal. For some reason, King Louis xiv made people learn it and do it. I think he was a little crazy… anyway, does anyone know why he had them do it? Or really, why we dance ballet? Why do we do it?
Me: Because we’re crazy?
Jilissa: Well… yes, but why do we do it?
Sarah: Because it’s pretty
Jilissa: Yes, that too… but think about it. It’s a challenge. And I really think we do it for the challenge. Because if it was easy, there wouldn’t be anything in it for us. What would be the fun of it? I think we, as people, like something that’s gonna challenge us.

Here we go folks.
If life was easy, what would be the point in it?
If everything was given to us, what would we even accomplish?
Accomplish would be a pointless word… There would kinda be no such thing.
We need the challenge. We need to strive for things. We need to have life smack us in the face, sometimes. To be unsure, to experience fear and look it right in the eye and tell it, “you don’t own me.”
It’s liberating. It’s empowering.
If we were giving everything, we’d never feel the need to change the world. We’d never feel capable of success. Because we wouldn’t need it.

Face hardships head on.
It won’t last forever
But it makes victory worth it.
Work hard now so when you dance, it’s beautiful.

(and if you feel a little crazy, it’s normal 😉 )

Take 5

We’ve been on a 2 week break from dance class
And I fear I will go crazy.

It’s amazing the difference it has in my deeper life, rather than just the boost it gives me with movement.
It’s as if there is this little person that lives inside of me. And it’s full of thoughts and ideas and commentary for everything I do (recently, it’s resembled the Olympic commentators…) and it constantly feeding my brain. This little minion in my head can be wonderful and encouraging or it can turn on me in an instant and reduce me to tears and worthlessness.
Dance puts him in place.
It challenges his ideas, exposes his lies, and seems to give him kinder things to throw in my head.

The difference 2 weeks can make is astounding.
But I’ve been able to notice and–on good days–separate the truth from lies.
Honestly, I didn’t expect that.

Starting next week, I’ll be taking two classes a week instead of just one.
My dance teacher said that to even be considered for pointe, this is what I need to do. So I took a big step and put my foot down at work and told them it was something I had to do.
I’m really excited.
I know my schedule is gonna be insane, but I’m excited to be able to do this.
I love my studio.
I love my teacher.
I love my classmates.
I love knowing that I’m going to get to do twice as much as I have before. And will, ultimately, be learning and solidifying things twice as fast.

🙂

New Steps

So, I personally have 5 or so blogs on here already…
Each one has their own topic and point.
Some I still keep up with
Others I could technically delete, but see, I’m weird about that… and I know that anything that has been written could never be written the same again, and that every word is a part of me.
Why start another one?
Well, because I have found myself learning so many deep, insightful lessons in my dance class. More than I can just tack on to any other blog.
So, here’s a new one.
I’ll be posting things I learn in dance class.
Things that I am more than grateful for.
My goal is to fulfill my dream of getting on pointe.
But even if I never accomplish that, the things I learn are worth more than I could have ever imagined. Or dreamed. Or thought. Or hoped. Or expected.
Some will be new experiences, some will be older ones.
Some may be candid. Who knows.

🙂