Last week, I took the final class of the season at my studio. On the car ride back home, so many emotions ran through my head. Surprisingly, I can’t believe it’s over already but on the other hand, the year felt so long. This year, though good, has been a hard one for me and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. I’ve made some great new friends even while I lost some old ones. I’ve tried new wonderful things yet failed miserably at others and have learned how to deal with some of the many challenges one will face as a dancer.
1. Starting Over:
This past year, I made the extremely difficult decision to switch studios. My choice was not easy and a lot of tears and prayer went into it. Coming to a new studio is hard and I missed my friends and my main ballet teacher, Miss Michele, terribly. Although it took a little bit to make friends and get to know the teachers at my new studio, it was still a great experience. Everything is so orderly, the teachers push you while at the same time encourage you. They look for ways to inspire you and show you the beauty and joy involved with this art form. The girls are supportive, kind, and they are a lot of fun to be around at shows, festivals, auditions, and every day classes. I know the next couple years here will be happy, pleasant and filled with growth! Peace is so sweet.
Ok, like I said above, it’s been a hard year dance-wise. Back in November, I started experiencing some hip pain. At first I thought it was just feeling super sore, but then it became a dull pain that finally turned into a sharp one. 🙁 We sought chiropractic treatment and it calmed down a bit. Sadly, though, it kept flaring up and it became difficult to even get my leg above 45 degrees. After being told that I might need to get a steroid shot to reduce inflammation (which made me panic because I HATE needles and medication) my mom decided to try a different route – physical therapy. My new (but not unknown to our family) physical therapist was wonderful and did so many things to help me. At first my hip didn’t feel any better and I had to take time off from dance. I continued to be very frustrated and began to wallow knee deep in self pity. Then slowly but surely it began to heal. Although it is better, my full endurance is a work in progress. One thing I learned through this is that there is a consequence to jumping into such a demanding athletic pursuit all at once. It takes years for bodies to develop the muscle memory and strength necessary to become amazing dancers. I am so looking forward to year three of my training. 🙂
3. Taking Chances:
This year, I took a few chances. First, I auditioned for a ballet summer intensive that turned me down the year before. This one didn’t feel like my best audition of the season, since most of it was en pointe and the pianist who was accompanying us had a need for speed (seriously, he gave us the fastest song for pirouettes ever!) but much to my utter surprise and delight, I received an email letting me know that I was one of the blessed hundred girls accepted into their summer program. Since I’ve only been seriously training in ballet for two years, getting this letter meant so much to me. It meant that my hard work was actually paying off, and that a complete stranger saw something in me worth cultivating. It was difficult to resist their offer, but I’m sure my decision to return to CPYB is the correct one at this time.
This year, my parents also let me audition for a winter show with a local contemporary company. It turned out to be an audition for an apprenticeship. Funnily, I utterly failed the hip hop portion of it but still got accepted into their stellar program. This was such an amazing experience all round from the mentoring, to the teaching where I was challenged repeatedly to release and dance, to getting to perform in Atlanta. They taught me how to really listen to the music and feel it. Learning choreography quickly was a must. Performing in that show was amazing and I can emphatically state – a sheer joy! Being at the theater five days in a row and getting to dance in front of an audience each night made me so very happy! I’m so glad I took chances this year with my parents full support.
4. Dancing Adventures:
Well, this year, I learned that pointe shoes can sometimes be defective. One of my pointe shoes was cut crooked and I strained the muscles in my right foot. That was fun…NOT! Another painful lesson, I also learned that brand new pointe shoes should NEVER be worn for three hours straight. They must be broken in carefully, first. If you neglect to do that, you will get a blister on the side of your foot, that may not heal for a month and may, hypothetically, bleed an entire show weekend.
As if I hadn’t discovered enough through my painful lessons, I had one more. There is, unfortunately, nothing you can do for a bruised big toe nail. While practicing for my variation, while wearing a pair of too small pointe shoes and hopping on one foot for a half hour, I BRUISED my toe nail. Yes, in hindsight, I can clearly see how that was a foolish choice. So long story short, my toe swelled up so big I couldn’t get my tennis shoes back on and it took about three days for the pain to calm down. Now, I’m patiently waiting for my toenail to fall off. The life of a dancer is interesting. 🙂
5. Fun times:
This year had a lot of fun moments for me. Getting to perform in my studios shows was such a treat. Everything was calm, peaceful, and orderly. Being backstage at my studios shows is a lot of fun. We have a great time before, during, and after our shows.
Going with my studio to a high school dance festival at a local college was a blast. I had a lot fun dancing so many different styles in one day, making great memories, and watching the performance afterward. Supporting my studio and friends was great.
So much happened this year and a part of me really wants to tell you everything but for the sake of your sanity as you try to read this extra long blog post I’m going to cut things short.
This year was one filled with triumphs, joys, failures and more than a few tears. I’m excited about my upcoming summer intensive and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings. I’m determined to leave the mistakes of this past season behind and take on the challenges of this coming year in a graceful yet strong manner!
Let me know in the comments below how your dance season went and the lessons you learned!