The Best Kind of Stress There Is!

I have quite a lot of very exciting news to share with you all! Such is the result of several new developments that have made themselves present in my life since my last blog post, nearly a week ago. It’s crazy that so little can happen in such a short time! But it can, and it does, and it never fails to bring an element of excitement into our lives.

Probably the most significant of these developments, and therefore the one I will first share, is that I got a job! To add to the excitement, not only is it my first job ever, but it also happened to be the first job I really applied to, and as such was also the source from which I was able to experience my first job interview.

Undoubtedly, I am thrilled! I am enthusiastic about having my first ‘real’ job, I am genuinely excited to learn new things, and I feel that I can breath an – albeit little – sigh of relief; while I am not getting paid very much, this job will at least allow me to cover part of my expenses – quite literally infinitely more than if I didn’t have a job.

So, besides the job, what else has me so happy? The on-going and ever-exciting preparations for Youth America Grand Prix! As a short update, it would suffice to say that my rehearsals have been going extremely well! Every time I improve further and develop the variation more. It feels wonderful, and I can really track my growth as a dancer with each and ever run-through. It’s quite an amazing experience and I am so fulfilled by knowing that I am getting so much out of this. It’s difficult for me to put into words how exciting this is, to be able to definitively say that I can see myself developing into a ballet artist. It’s not every day that you can look at your life as it seems to be going from a somewhat objective, “out-of-body” view point and see your dreams starting to come true quite plainly in front of your eyes! I feel as if I just know that each step I take right now is exactly on the right path, ultimately leading to my dreams actually coming true. This is just the beginning! And it is so satisfying!

Finally, I’ve been playing around with the idea of changing my major in college to a Business major. I haven’t talked about academics much on here – after all, my focus is on ballet right now and so is the focus of this blog. I am currently majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics. The way I see my future is that, after I am done dancing professionally, I will end up finishing a degree in a subject that I can connect to ballet and, thus, keep ballet in my life even after retirement from the stage. As a side note, I do see myself teaching forever, as many ballerinas end up doing; but, in addition to that, I do want to have a degree in another area which I can then merge with ballet. The problem is that I don’t agree with a lot of what I am being taught in Nutrition. It is a very new science. I won’t get into the details here, they are not significant to this discussion – other than to say that the thought of combining Nutrition and Ballet, while a very good idea, is not at all appealing to me any longer. I have always been interested in nutrition, but – quite plainly – I want nothing to do with it anymore. I thought about changing my major to exercise science, but I felt that I would stumble into similar problems by trying to combine a career in that field with ballet. And so, now, the idea of going in an entirely different directions seems quite reasonable! Never did I think I would even consider majoring in Business, but the thought of it seems quite appealing, and it seems that it would open up many, many doors. And, quite surely, I can use a degree in Business to do something further with ballet later in life, without a doubt! Whether it leads to me opening my own school, owning my own company, whatever it leads to – it will, without fail, lead to something good that combines with ballet. It leaves me with many, many options; and it seems to me like an interesting and definitely important field to study; besides…if I ever want to be rich, isn’t a business degree the right direction in which to be heading?? Hey, a girl can dream…

Well, anyway – it’s something for me to think about!! For now I am most definitely only concerned with ballet. A business degree can wait. But since I am in school now and making progress to a future degree even while I study ballet, it’s a decision that must be made soon so that whatever may come in the future end up being what I want to happen!

All of this has left me a little stressed. But it’s a good kind of stress – probably the best kind of stress there is! More importantly than anything, I am happy, and I feel confident in the direction I am going. I just love the undeniable feeling of utmost excitement that I’m feeling lately! Yes, my schedule is absolutely hectic now. But I love that. And while I am lacking in the sleep department recently, I have no doubt that as I adjust to this new level of being busy, I will figure out how to make sure I get enough sleep, too!

Before I end this update, I do want to give a quick shoutout to my new followers – Thank You!!

And keep your eyes peeled for a new segment in my Ballerina Hacks category – this time, about a very helpful trick to help you fine-tune the fit of your point shoes (one of many to come!) Coming soon – when I find some time! Hahaha 🙂

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My Pointe Shoe Fiasco

I live in metro-Atlanta. But this weekend, it didn’t feel as if I live in the “ninth largest metropolitan area in the US” – not at all!

I found myself in quite an unbelievable position this weekend, when I was left without pointe shoes, and with no way of getting any. At least, not in time. I never thought I would be in a situation so strange that I actually felt ‘stranded’ without any pointe shoes; I most definitely felt immune from such a situation, thinking all along that it is a concern best reserved for those people living in the middle of nowhere. Certainly it is a concern not worth fretting over when you live in an large metropolitan area with a relatively large community of dancers and, therefore, at least 2 dance stores close enough to be worth driving for? And, of course, what with being connected to the internet pretty much 24/7, there is no way I would ever actually find myself in a position without access to shoes! Right? Right??

As it turns out…I couldn’t have been more wrong!

A few of the many pairs of unfortunately useless pointe shoes lying around me

Let’s start at the very beginning. It is a very good place to start, after all! Julie Andrews would be proud…

A few weeks back – maybe a month ago? – I ordered my usual Grishko Elite 5 XXXX H from the online distributor I usually order from. Now, my Grishkos…they’re perfect! When they’re perfect. And when they’re not, they’re really not. Most of the time, I get perfect pairs. But far too often, I receive a pair that I absolutely cannot dance in. I’m still not 100% sure what it is about those pairs of shoes I come across now and then, but my teacher and I have established that it seems to be a problem with the shank going too far down into the shoe, curling the toe upward and therefore pulling me off pointe when I try to dance in them.

Sometimes it’s a huge inconvenience but something I can deal with if I must. Other times, they’re so inhibiting that I cannot deal with them at all, because I cannot dance in them – especially when I’m rehearsing a variation  (when it’s really crucial to have good shoes – significantly more so than if I were just using them for daily class).

It’s a gamble that I’m tired of taking! I am fed up with this problem. I found out a few months ago that it seems that every pair of bad shoes I get is made by the same maker. Unfortunately, in order for me to get around such a problem, I first must find a maker that I know makes the shoes the way I like them; then I must order direct from Grishko. It’s not a huge problem, ordinarily, except for that it takes time. And right now, I don’t have time!

I received my 3 pairs of Grishkos in the mail on Friday (after waiting for so long because they were back ordered…) and sewed one of them. This was one of those really-horrible-I-cannot-even-bear-it types of bad shoes. I took them off in the middle of rehearsal and changed into my dead shoes, which were far from providing the support I needed to pull of 5 rotations in my turns, but which were undeniably heavenly in comparison to the terrible new pair!

I have not yet sewn the last two pairs. I was intending on having these three Hard shank pairs, and then ordering 3 more Soft shank pairs (to use for stage – so that I have a perfect pair without fussing over breaking them in according to the ‘right time’). Now, I will be sending back the 2 remaining Hard shoes and exchanging them for 2 Soft shanks. I hope that the Soft shank shoes they send me will be usable. And I hope that, if they are still less than idea, that I might be able to use them well enough anyway because they are a soft shank. But, we will see.

As for the here and now – I’m stuck with my dead shoes until…until…I don’t know when until, to be honest!

None of the stores here had my shoes in stock.

In the long run, I’m really starting to like the idea of switching to Russian Pointes. I just don’t know how much more of these Grishko fiascoes I can handle! And besides the frustration that it causes me, and the damper it puts on my dancing, it’s really expensive. I shouldn’t be forced to gamble…

I was recommended the Rubin, in vamp 1, to best match the Elites. None of the stores here had vamp 1 in stock.

I’ll say it again – I live in Atlanta! And yet, I am stuck without pointe shoes!! Unbelievable.

My plan of action? I’m using my dead shoes for now. I’m exchanging the 2 other Hards for 2 Softs. The one bad pair I already sewed? I tried 3/4-ing the shank, but it did no good.

I cut the shank to 3/4 length, but it was no use!

They’re going in the trash. I bought a pair of RP Rubins in vamp 2 to show my teacher today – at least then she can see the model and shape of the shoe and tells me what she thinks. Will I sew them and use them? I have no idea. On one hand, I very much want to. On the other, I know that the vamp is slightly high, and I’m not too keen on the idea of throwing another $80 in the trash. I can’t afford that! And at the same time…I need a pair of shoes, now! The store ordered a pair of Rubins vamp 1 for me, but that will probably take weeks to get here. They also ordered 2 more pairs of Soft shank Grishko Elites for me. All in all, hopefully soon, I should have in my possession 4 pairs of Grishko Elite 5 XXXX S; a pair of RP Rubin Vamp 2, which I may or may not end up returning; and a pair of RP Rubin Vamp 1, which will hopefully be a wonderful shoe for me and will allow me to switch out of my Grishkos and into RPs.

It’s the best plan I could come up with. I’m still not happy with the situation I’m in right now, though. I’m in the midst of rehearsing for YAGP, and I need to be ready! Yes, I know – “it’s not the shoes, it’s you” – sorry, there’s only so much I can do with dead shoes or bad shoes; unfortunately, quadruple pique en dehor pirouettes do not fall under the category of ‘only so much I can do’, and neither do quintuple pique en dedan pirouettes – both of which I am trying to establish consistently for my variation.

Yes, I am frustrated. This should not be a problem I have to deal with.

As with all things, though – if I don’t solve it…it will solve itself!! Staying positive 🙂

The Time Has Come

Early morning rehearsals - working hard even on 'break'! Still, it's nice to be back to full schedule now!

All throughout these past three weeks I have been waiting eagerly for the Holiday break to be over – and, as of yesterday, it’s officially over! It’s true that I did have rehearsals all last week, but it’s just not the same as being back to my full schedule.

My first class yesterday went well. Very well. Before class my teacher quickly reminded me that I know what I need to work on, and that I know that I need to start working in a different way. Once I had gotten home, I felt like I really did accomplish just that – I payed a lot of attention to those details that I have not properly developed yet, and I definitely feel a different in my approach to class; that is, I’m working more efficiently, more professionally – like a ballerina, not like a student.

Right now, I’m pretty much busy with ballet 24/7. Not just in training, but with all kinds of items that together make up a somewhat intimidating to-do list! Getting my music and costumes for YAGP; making and selling SAB skirts to try and raise some funds for my summer programs; writing up a resume so that I can get  a part-time job, again to help fund my ballet-related ventures; working on choreography for the recital piece the little girls I teach will dance; planning out my timeline for auditions and everything else, really; and that’s just the begging of all the things going on right now! Obviously, I couldn’t be happier – even my mom has told me to keep it up, because the last week or so, when I’ve really started getting busy with this stuff, I’ve just been so happy, so satisfied with myself and with my life 🙂

To top off the ‘feel-good’ atmosphere in my life lately, yesterday I received an email from Nichelle at Dance Advantage rewarding me with my badge for the Top Dance Blogs 2011 contest! How fun!!

Thanks Nichelle!

Keep it Simple! Promise Yourself You Will.

I had been struggling with my weight for a long time. Now, I’m losing weight; my weight will always be something I have to monitor, I’m one of those dancers that will always have to diet. And I’m ok with that. … Continue reading

Do Not Get Nervous

Something my ballet teacher told me yesterday in rehearsal seems to have already made an impression on me and improved my dancing.

At the start of rehearsal, I told her I’m already getting nervous – not even for the competition, but just for rehearsal, for showing her how I do the variation.

She told me I must learn how not to be nervous. She said I am taking this all too seriously and putting too much significance on it (on every little thing).

How in the world do you learn to do that?!

And then I realized – I don’t need to do anything to learn how to do it; I just need to do it.

Do not get nervous. Do not allow yourself to be fearful. Do not question yourself or doubt your abilities. Do not make everything into a task which is so serious and significant that it becomes too meaningful and emotional.

Don’t think about how to do any of that. Just do it!

A Speech to Myself

For the past two days, my thoughts have been focused on nothing else besides these next few months. I will admit – it is all a little bit overwhelming! This spring (and later, this upcoming summer) will be filled with opportunities that will shape my career and my future. First on the schedule is a possible performance in February, in which, should I end up performing, I will be dancing the Talisman; a month later, on March 9-11, I will be traveling to the South Carolina YAGP semi-final to compete with this same variation. Then, sometime in April or possibly May, the time will come to do all of my audition videos, send them away, and hope for the best! In between all of these, I have three different photo shoots scheduled, one in February, one in March, and one in April. All of this is great! It is beyond exciting, and I am thrilled at all of these opportunities!

But it hit me yesterday – I have only two months to get ready for this; one month if I perform in February. And while I wouldn’t give these opportunities away for anything, I wish so badly that I had more time. There is only so much progress that can be made with my body in such a short amount of time. But, such is the life of a dancer! Worrying about any of this won’t do me any good and will probably do a lot of bad! So now it’s time to stop analyzing, stop planning, stop calculating what is and isn’t possible for me to achieve in the next two months – now it’s time to go and do and figure out what I can achieve in two months by putting my best foot forward and proving to myself what I am capable of! After all, what else is there to do?!

This is my time, my chance. And I’m taking this chance all for myself, because I need to succeed! 

You see, until now, I have always talked about all the stuff I have to do this spring as if it was in the future; well, that’s completely understandable – it was in the future! I had planned this all out, made a timeline, and all along I have known that “later this year” I will do my auditions, compete in YAGP, and really start my transition to a professional career. Granted, I never planned on breaking my foot and subsequently losing two whole months (which is a significantly large chunk of time to lose; I feel this now more than ever as I continue preparing with only that same amount of time left)! But alas, some things cannot be planned for, and are entirely beyond my control.

And now, well…it’s now! It’s no longer “later this year”, now it’s “at this time of year.” And it’s not in the future anymore; it’s right now.

After a year of anticipation and planning this all out, I am sure you can imagine how I might be feeling just a little distressed now that it’s actually happening. I hope I’m not giving you the wrong idea – I am more excited than anything else!

So now it’s all up to me. I’m done planning, now I get to start living it all, actually carrying out my plans, and seeing what happens. Will I lose all the weight I need to by YAGP? Let me put it this way – whether it’s considered possible or not – I really have no choice! And that’s that; questioning myself and questioning whether I will lose enough weight in time or not is neither productive nor helpful. I will not question any of this any longer, because there is no need at all – I will instead answer these questions by doing and seeing what happens.

By the way, I will say that I am less stressed and more relieved now than I was yesterday before rehearsal. During rehearsal I decided with my teacher that I have enough on my plate, and so I will only be taking Talisman to YAGP semi-finals. One variation is enough for now, and this way I can really have it perfect! Not having to prepare a whole other variation has really let me breath a sigh of relief at all of this! And Talisman is going to be perfect 🙂 Yesterday during rehearsal I did triple pirouettes – and now my coach and I expect nothing less! We’ve set it to three of four pirouettes, and that will really wow the judges. And I am proud of myself, too!

I guess today’s post was more of a motivational and reassuring speech to myself than anything else, wasn’t it? Well, it helped me, that’s for sure!