Monthly Archives: November 2016

Some Ramblings

A variety of topics…

Lately  I’ve been continuing to focus on finding and exploring that balance between dance and life, between dreaming about ballet and focusing on the bigger picture. Since my last post I have confirmed that I love dancing, having spent a good amount of time dancing by myself, working on my own choreographies, and just enjoying myself. My foot has finally been feeling back to normal, so I was able to do more actual dancing during class instead of just marking anything harder than tendus and adagio in center. I even started jumping again, in the studio with the sprung floor.

I thought I’d write about something that I have been puzzling over for a bit this past week. After rehearsals, one of my teachers said to me that I need to have more confidence, that I need to “be proud of it” (exact words), if that makes sense. I explained that if I’m worried about losing my balance while doing that particular step, then I’m not feeling very confident, and thus, not feeling very proud. I also made sure to mention that while doing steps that I’m more familiar with I have become more confident as time goes by. He replied something about how the confidence should come first, not be a result of the familiarity with the step. Whaaaa…?

This is a rather odd concept to me, but appears to be an extension of the Fake It Till U Make It sentiment I briefly touched upon on a previous post. Let’s just say I struggle with this concept immensely (although I have managed some basic levels of “faking”confidence, such as holding my head up high and keeping my shoulders up and back, all thanks to pilates). When it’s codified ballet steps, especially beginner level steps, it’s no problem by this point. I may be terrified on the inside, or having a bad anxiety day, or something, but I’ll still hold my posture and not give into my tendency to shrink. But when it’s new-to-me steps, especially more contemporary stuff that really tries my balance in new (and terrifying) ways, I guess my inner lack of confidence bubbles to the surface…

What will I do about this? The obvious answer to me is to practice the troublesome steps more, since I did make the commitment to do the school performance (and then once this commitment is past I will cut down a little on my dance classes and practices – or not. Like I said before, I’m still trying to figure it out, so I will go by what feels right and always be mindful of my motivations). Do I believe in this teacher’s approach – confidence before familiarity? Honestly, no, not at this time. Perhaps when I’ve been dancing for longer – and the memories of falling over in center have been forgotten – then it will be a different story. As it is, I don’t know if those memories will be forgotten – I didn’t start out at a comparable level to my classmates in Beginner ballet class, but as the worst dancer in the room, not just lacking technical skill but also balance and coordination. It’s not hard for me to remember what a mess I was, actually, because my dancing in ballet class back then was worse than my current ability – or lack thereof – at hip hop dance class. So I have a nice reminder twice a week that the only way I improve at dance is if I really work hard.

This ties in to something else I wanted to discuss: there are few things I find as aggravating as someone presuming to know more about me than me (meaning where I came from/where I started from, how incredibly difficult even simple things were).  And it can be very frustrating – not to mention annoying – when I’m struggling with something and feel that I’m not allowed to express this. Many  of the people I’m around in dance classes subscribe to the idea that “you can do anything!” and that if you don’t believe this you’re “being negative”. Perhaps it started out with good intentions – I mean I really want to believe it started with good intentions – but I feel it ends up veering into blaming people for not trying hard enough, for “not wanting it enough”. Clearly anyone can see that with our different bodies, strengths and weaknesses, different steps or moves may prove to be more difficult to some of us? I mean, if the average ballet student in my class back when I first started in Beginner was able to hold a releve balance on two feet (if only for a few seconds) during their first class, but it took me over a year to do this, then obviously we did not start from the same place. It would be ridiculous for me to expect the same progress in the same amount of time, but I feel like it is a very unpopular thing to admit. It seems to me that “you’re being negative” is code for “you’re saying things that contradict my world view, and I chose to take it personal”. Or perhaps that’s why I’m not “confident” , because I don’t expect the unlikely outcome to magically occur without putting in the work … and the time. How does saying “I CAN do this!” and then falling out of it make me more “positive” than admitting “I can’t do this YET?”. (Or maybe I’m showing my age again, since it seems to be mostly the young’uns that feel this way…)

At this point I’d like to interrrupt this admittedly whiny post by saying that despite all my grievances things have actually been going well in life. I have made a friend! I’ve mentioned before how difficult it is for me to make friends, so that explains what a big deal this is. Previously I’d made a couple of ballet friends, who I enjoy talking with about ballet-related things before and after class, but it was still somehow superficial – if specialized- small-talk. But with this new friend (who has been an acquaintance for about a year, but we’ve been interacting more lately) who is also a dancer, but more into Modern than ballet, I’ve been having real conversations – sharing hopes, ideas, dreams, fears, beliefs. Conversations with substance, getting deep, which as an introvert I crave and enjoy immensely.

Among many other things, I’ve discussed ballet with her, and since she’s not completely passionate about ballet I’m able to hear a more levelheaded – and openminded – point of view than I sometimes get from my ballet friends.  She’s actually the first person (besides Boyfriend) with whom I’ve discussed in depth my choice to not pursue going en pointe as a goal. This is something else that I’ve felt that I can’t talk about with anyone – even on here, sadly, although this should be a safe place for me to express my ideas – because it’s so different from everyone else’s point (obviously, no pun intended) of view, and I’m really bad at making controversial statements. But going over it with my friend has helped me feel more secure in my decision – since I’m not pursuing a professional dance career, there is nothing wrong with me enjoying ballet in flat slippers. For a while now, I’ve had this worry that since my goal is not to get en pointe then I can’t refer to what I’m doing as “ballet” (not that everyone who does ballet recreationally IS en pointe, of course, but from the ladies who are not all I ever hear is that it is their dream and number one goal. For full disclosure, I feel I have to admit that one of my goals – which I can check off – has been to be strong enough to be allowed to do it, even if I choose not to). Perhaps instead of “ballet” I should refer to it as “flat-llet”?

Then again, I’m a big fan of ‘never say never’, so I’m not saying it will never happen. I’m just saying that with the way things currently are it is not my goal. Who knows what the future holds?

Still Around…

Well, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, but I haven’t posted in a while. During this time I’ve been doing lots of thinking and pondering, trying to figure things out. To be honest, I don’t know if I should even publish this post, but perhaps getting it out will sort things out a bit.

Umm, I guess rant/whine alert…

I’ve been going through some things, and …it’s complicated. For now, I’ll just say that I’m still dancing, still taking class, and will probably continue to dance under some capacity for as long as I am physically able. Hey, even if it’s in your living room – or kitchen, in my case – and with no audience, it’s still dancing. It’s my little expression of happiness and nothing can take that away from me.

That said, my relationship with dance at the moment is quite rocky. I don’t expect anyone to understand – and I am admittedly being ambiguous on this very public forum – but like I mentioned earlier, I’m going through some, well, things … I feel like I have been abusing dance as a drug, using it to keep my mind occupied … I have used dance as a distraction from things better not mentioned here, and while I am forever grateful about how much it helped me make it through some of the darkest episodes, there comes a time when I cannot keep running, hiding. I feel that things have come around a full circle and I need to remember what else is important to me, what else matters, what came before dance…

It’s time for me to make some tough decisions… and so, in the future I may possibly be cutting back on the amount of classes I take, on the amount of time spent practicing, obsessing. Simply put, I’ve come to realize I don’t like the person that it threatens to turn me into – an insecure, unsatisfied, yet competitive person – and I don’t know how much longer I can resist against the tide. Being a misfit is a vulneable place, and I feel I cannot grow into the person I am to be if I’m constantly feeling out of place. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I tend to be impressionable, and I know my weaknesses enough to know that the smart choice is for me to create some distance. Where I am in life compared to my fellow classmates is so different, so much further along, but when I’m there in class, in the moment, I can almost forget that fact. This inevitably leads to disappointment ; while I’m not too old to dance for fun – I don’t believe anybody is too old to dance for fun – there is no future in it for me as anything other than fun. And, I sincerely believe that there is more to life than having fun – I have to manage all my other responsibilities and work on myself, not just constantly be seeking enjoyment.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely don’t regret having started ballet. Thanks to ballet I have discovered that my body can do amazing things, that there is such an incredible capacity for strength, commitment, and passion inside of me. And that’s the issue right there, i think; while I’ve proved to myself just how far I can get if I set my mind to something (in this case learning to ballet), I feel that I have been focusing my efforts in  the wrong direction. If that passion, commitment, and  (mental) strength were applied towards bettering my circumstances in other ways, who knows what could happen?

(I’m sure this if a very popular sentiment to express – not. LOL. I don’t really care, this is my truth, and if you can’t express your truth on your own blog, where can you, right?)

Well, anyway, I’m not quitting dance, I don’t think I could ever truly quit dance. But I am reshifting my focus a bit. While I plan on finishing up the current class sessions that I have signed up for – and paid for – I will be taking it easier after that.

Another thing that is a factor in my decision is injuries. I don’t mention every little ache and pain on here (mostly because I’m not seeking advice on those topics), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Especially when the weather cools down, then it seems like there isn’t a day that does by without something managing to hurt – my hip, my foot, etc. – and every year it appears to be getting worse. My body seems to be requiring me to treat it with special care, and it’s frustrating. Since I didn’t grow up as a dancer, I don’t have that high tolerance for pain that dancers supposedly have, and not knowing if I can trust my perceptions of pain (or if I’m just being a baby…) is even more frustrating, and a little scary.

I feel that it may have been foolish of me to sign up for the school show, since I require a lot of repetitive practice to learn my choreography and my body just isn’t wanting to cooperate (especially with the colder weather). Ok, fine, I’ll be honest – it’s downright heartbreaking that even though I’m willing to put in the time, effort and practice, my body then fails me. This is compounded by the fact that other (much younger) people squander away their time and then complain to me about how they don’t improve even though they aren’t willing to put in the work. I feel myself becoming bitter and angry, and I don’t like that  side of me… While I’ve told myself in the past that the “mature” thing to do is stick around and “be the bigger/better person”, and deal with irritating people,  it’s hard (duh), and I honestly wonder if it’s even worth it…

Not that rudeness and immaturity is limited to ballet classmates, of course. In hip hop class, this past week we had to work in groups and one of the people in my group kept making passive agressive remarks about how she didn’t want me there (she kept saying ‘if it was just the rest of us, we could do this or that’, and she gave me attitude whenever I asked a question). Actually, I think that was when I made the decision that I was over it. As an adult, I don’t have time for these immature brats and their childish drama.

But am I any better? In a different class, I saw a classmate do something really rude to a fellow classmate, and I didn’t have the nerve to say  or do anything about it. Does this make me horrible? Perhaps.  He/she who doesn’t stand up against something wrong is condoning it, right?

I feel pretty low about it even now. This just adds more fuel to my argument that I need to create some distance around myself.

***

This wouldn’t be a ballet-blog post without me discussing some ballet-related stuff – the past few weeks have been rough though. I’ve lost some strength because I had to stop working on releve for a couple of weeks, due to some foot issues. I did barre, and then marked center combinations, wishing that I could be dancing. Once I was able to dance again – hooray for adagio! – I was so happy (and that’s how I know I can’t completely quit dance), and I felt like I won’t take dance for granted again. Also, it wasn’t ballet but I also participated in my first flash mob a couple of weeks ago and it was really fun.