Hindsight is Always Twenty-Twenty

I am so relieved that my plans to return to Russia in January are becoming more and more finalized! And everything is going in the right direction, things are happening as they should be, and on top of it all I’m actually starting to feel very happy that I ended up coming home back in January because it made things happen that left me off in a much better place now – things that I am pretty sure would not have happened had I not come back when I did.

I don’t believe in fate but it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to deny that everything always works out in the end. Historically – in my own history – that is the way it’s always been. Like I said, I don’t believe in fate; what I do believe in is my ability to make good decisions. I am learning to trust myself and my decisions, now more than ever! And as for the old adage, “everything happens for a reason”? Well, yeah, it does. But not because some mysterious force makes it that way. Because when you’re entirely dedicated to a cause, no matter what that cause may be, you find yourself engaged in working toward that cause not only actively, but passively as well. Add up all of the big and all of the most miniscule decisions you make; throw in a good amount of coincidence; add a pinch of things outside of your control; and sprinkle it all with your unyielding efforts to make what you will of it and work around what ever you cannot work with or work through – and there you are, everything happens for a reason.

It’s time we started giving ourselves credit for all of the awesome things we do. I, for one, have learned to expect the best of myself. Well, why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t anyone?

Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.

-John Wooden

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Winter, Summer, Winter

Unbelievable – how a whole 6 months ago I was preparing to return to Russia for another semester, only to have to return home a short while after arriving back in Russia; how much has happened in the last 6 months; how much I’ve learned, and re-learned; and how important the events of these last 6 months have proven to be (and, without a doubt, will continue to serve a significant role in my future). But the real kicker is just how fast the time flew by me, more than ever before! They say that’s a good sign, though.

And I think they’re right. When I returned home I was in bad shape and understandably devastated about it all; somewhere along the way things started to get better, and with the new opportunities popping up and new developments in my plans to return to Russia, it just continued to go up, up, up.

The other day I was in the car with my dad and it hit me all of a sudden that I am really happy, and that I feel really good – I feel healthy, and happy, and most of all tingly with excitement at the instinctual sort of confidence I have in myself and all that I am doing (both currently and that which I will do in the near future)! Don’t ask why my brain chose that random, so-far-seemingly insignificant moment to make it known to me just how great I feel, I have no idea. I’m just glad I realized it at all, because the rush of euphoria that came over me when I announced that out loud to my dad was priceless, and since then I’ve been absolutely beaming with joy  and pride and anticipation at what is still to come!

The evening prior to my little self-epiphany, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting with one of my previous ballet teachers who has shown me and incredible amount of blush-inducing confidence and support on this entire journey from the very beginning, and has proved to be one of only a few that I will always have a special place for in my heart; we’ll call her Ms. J, for the sake of simplicity and anonymity. Ms. J treated me to dinner, and we had such interesting conversations about all kinds of stuff – almost all ballet-related of course! – and I left feeling so refreshed and with a renewed sense of strength to push even harder. It can be very rewarding to hear confirmation that you are on the right path and that you are making someone who matters proud, especially when you know that the congratulations is heartfelt and truthful. There is no need for sugar-coated encouragement that comes from someone’s ‘duty’ to make you feel good when that encouragement is merit-based and comes from a real, honest sense of pride; and that is what made it such an honor to hear all Ms. J had to say that night, and why it left me feeling absolutely more successful in how far I’ve come already (despite the set-backs).

Since my last post, there have of course been more developments in the current agenda, and as I get closer and closer to the start of the new school year, my plans become more and more refined and definite. Nothing is set in stone [only when I’m on the plane to Moscow will I feel justified in saying that it is!], but the current agenda seems to be that I will return to Russia in January, ie. second semester. As much as I would love to return as soon as possible in September (or NOW!), the reality is that I am not yet in the condition I need to be before going back! I am so so so much better, times a million, than I was in January. I’ve recovered almost entirely from what made me ill in January, and every day I see more and more improvements. It really is amazing! Despite the success of my treatment and how wonderful I feel, my doctor felt it would be unwise to return sooner rather than later, and advised me against returning in September and running the risk of not being well enough to stay well. My parents and my ballet teacher agreed that I need to wait a while longer; and, honestly? I agree with them all, too! Quite frankly, I’m relieved that I was not even given the option of returning in September, because I sure do want to, but I know that in the long run I would be much happier if I return when I am truly ready!

In the meantime, I am still working, and working hard! Ballet classes have ended for the year, which makes me sad, but I am able to stay in shape by giving myself classes on my own when the studio is empty, and that is good enough to get me through the summer! I’ve also made one other very big [for me] goal for this summer, that will also help me stay in shape: I want to learn how to run! I have always wanted to, but I let my fear prevent me from ever attacking that goal! That’s unusual for me, because I usually don’t let, well, anything get in the way of what I want to do. But I suppose that the ultimate barrier than can get in anyone’s way is one’s own self! And so I have decided to get over any fears I am and to go for it. I am really excited!

Since I will still be home for first semester, I will be able to take some college classes and earn more credits, the prospect of which delights me! I have finally chosen to major in international business. It should suit me, what with all the languages I speak, and with my goal-oriented mind and personality. My only worry is that I won’t find it interesting; I can’t well know if I like it or not, though, until I try it. Really, I want to study physiology and medicine, because that is what interests me. Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out a way to work medical school into my schedule and merge that with the ballet career, so I have deemed it impractical and – dare I say it – impossible (hate that word). At least for the time being. I wish I could do everything! Clearly, that is not how life works 🙂 So, I am very much hoping that I find international business as ideal as it theoretically should be for me, and that I find a passion for it like I have found for ballet and for physiology and medicine.

When all is said and done, I have to admit that all you folks who told me that “things happen for a reason” and assured me that “you’ll see, in the end it will have been for your own benefit” were absolutely correct. I never did doubt you! It was just difficult to see how any part of that setback could possibly be good for me. Retrospect, of course, makes very clear any blurred lines of vision 😉

I am excited for all of what I am setting out to do in the coming months, and in the months after that, too. And before you know it, another 6 months will have passed, and I will be sitting in the Aeroflot gate at the airport, passing the time by writing about how quickly my time at home flew by and so on and so forth!

A difficult winter has passed and left me with yet another medallion of wisdom on which to reflect and from which to learn. A summer of hard work, rebuilding, and anticipation is upon me. And the winter I am so eagerly awaiting is looming ahead right around the corner.

Patience is the name of the game, and when flowing in tandem with persistence and perseverance, it takes you to places you would otherwise never dream of reaching.

An Unexpected but Important Chapter in my Journey

Last week, I decided to get back in action and start blogging again. The catalyst? A dear reader by the name of Lia who left me the following comment:

Hey, Noa! :) I had been following your Tumblr when I noticed it was gone? I just wanted to make sure all was well. Are you still at Perm? Stay safe! :)
~Lia

The following is my response to her, which I wrote today:

Hi Lia! The Tumblr was deleted when I went back to this WordPress blog because I found WordPress to be more suitable for my purposes. But you are right in that I’ve been quiet, here as well. I unfortunately had a major health problem in January that caused me to have to come home, so I am no longer in Perm. The good news is that I’m back up and running, healthy, happy, and full of energy – and I’ve received confirmation from the Novosibirsk State Ballet School that I can come study there next year!

I realize that there are many gaps to fill, and so this is where the rest of this blog post comes in. I hope that, in writing the following, I was able to provide you all with a clearer picture of what exactly happened, why I have not been blogging, what I am up to now, and so on and so forth. So, without further adieu, here’s the scoop!

Let’s start by expanding on my reply to Lia. Novosibirsk State Choreographic College – I was accepted to that school at the same time I was accepted to Perm, and I chose to go to Perm. Last week, I was informed that the spot I was offered in the school is still available to me should I choose to take it next year. This is a big honor and I am very relieved and thankful for this! I’m sure all of you are wondering why I am even bothering to go through a change in schools at all – why not just go back to Perm? After all, I really loved it there, and I was doing very well. But, as with all things, there is a rhyme and a reason, and going back to Perm, while possibly still an option, is one that is somewhat less appealing to me than continuing my training in Novosibirsk. Due to the uncertainty of how long it would take me to recover, I could not take a temporary leave from Perm, and instead I received my certificate early and left ‘permanently’. When the opportunity came to me [last week!] to return to Russia [albeit in Novosibirsk instead of Perm], I took it with arms open wide! I felt so glad to know I am making big progress on the track back to my ‘normal life’! Novosibirsk is an incredible school, ranking at the top just as Perm does, with quit a lot to offer me – including some things that were not available to me in Perm. I very, very much want to go to Novosibirsk, and get back to the hard-core training and life that is ballet school in Russia! I want to go back so that I can graduate in a couple of years and finally go on to dancing in the theater, with a professional ballet company, as a real ballerina. As difficult as these last few months have been, the prospect of going back to Russia has left me feeling happy and whole again as if to make up for the frustration I felt during this trying period. At this point, I feel I can look back on the last few months as a separate period from now – as if I am clearly aware of that bad period being over and in the past! So, I am more than ready to get up and go back to Russia for this coming school year!

However, it still stands to be seen whether I will be able to actually go back. I am supposed to start in September, but the expenses of my health/coming back have left me/my family in a financially difficult position, in that, should I wish to go, I must find a way to provide the funding myself. It’s a lot to ask of myself, but I’m going to try like it’s life or death! In many ways, it feels like it is, for me. I’ve started working full time now 9 hours a day, and I’m looking to squeeze in a second part-time job somewhere in between the full-time job and my ballet training, which I am continuing with my teacher here at home. Even then, I likely will be unable to reach the amount I actually need to provide to cover the total sum of expenses needed in order to finish my studies. I am looking into other options to help supplement my own income, such as scholarships, grants, and sponsorships, but I am quickly finding that they are few and far between and very difficult to come by, and I have not had much luck so far. I suppose the details of this deserve a post of their own, though 🙂

Lia, I want to thank you so very much for leaving your comment. I have been dying to get back on here and blogging – at the very least, I owe it to my readers to update with what’s been going on. It’s been hard for me to find the drive to blog lately because I’ve been so upset about having to leave Russia, and honestly blogging was off the radar completely for a while when I first came home, because my focus was entirely on getting healthy. Believe it or not, I even didn’t/was unable to go to ballet classes for over a month at first. As I got my health and energy back, I slowly started coming back to class and getting back into shape (only recently have I begun to feel like my old in-shape self again)!

Ever since last week, when my world came back at me all at once with the possibility of really getting my life back, I’ve been so excited and I wanted nothing more than to blog about it here and share my good news! But I’ll admit it – I was scared! I feel that I have let you all down by being so quiet these last few months, and I just couldn’t find it in me to get up and over the guilt of sort of leaving you all hanging, and as much as I wanted to just get right back to blogging, something made me feel as if I couldn’t. Like I simply didn’t have it in me! But your comment, Lie, acted like a little spark in me and was a much-needed catalyst to get me back here and writing! So thank you ever so much!

I do hope that you, and all of you other readers, can forgive me for my absence, and can look forward to more frequent posts now. I missed blogging here and I honestly cannot wait to get back into it! As always, a huge thanks to all of you who continue to support me. And, of course, it goes without saying that not even the most eloquent ‘thank you’ could properly relay just how grateful I am to a particularly special group of people very dear and near to me and close to my heart – my parents, my best friends, and my teacher – who have put up with me and helped me through this difficult time and who, every day, continue to inspire me and teach me things without which I would be utterly and totally lost.
I hope that I will be able to return to Russia in September, because – let me tell you – I am just dying to go back!! I will be devastated if I can’t go back. However, I know it’s a possibility I might have to face. If I can’t earn and raise the money, I might have to accept that a professional career in ballet will be something I might no longer be able to strive for. It’s a chilling thought, most depressing, and one that I find difficult to think about – but I know there is a possibility that I will be in that position. Still, I hope very much that I won’t have to face it, and that all will be well. I trust that all will be well, because things always seem to work out for the best, even if it takes some time to really see it.

I will keep you all updated through this unique chapter of my journey, and I am also tinkering around with some fun ideas for non-update type posts that I think you will really enjoy!
Thank you all once again! You are all amazing, and I only wish I could do more than just blog to show how much I appreciate you all (although I’m quite certain you all would agree with me that just blogging would be a good start, at this point!) 😉

In the meantime, I will leave you all with a piece of advice and some words of wisdom. Always look on the bright side of things – it exists even if you haven’t found it yet. And an invaluable lesson my ballet teacher taught me – be patient. It was only in the last few months that I really appreciated the value of knowing how to be patient; it surprised me to realize that patience was something I was horribly lacking! I came to realize that it’s probably my biggest fault. So remember to be patient – with yourself, with others, with our progress. Because time will go at its own pace regardless of how impatient you are! 😉

Yours,
Noa

Stepping it Up

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing a face-first encounter with the brick wall of reality – and boy did it shake me up!

All this time I keep talking about the future, this summer, next year – and before I know it, it’s no longer the future, it’s now! I guess all I’m saying is that when you get so caught up in planning for the future, it can be easy to forget to recognize the fact that the future will, at some point, become the present. And when you fail to acknowledge that, it tends to come as a bit of a shocker when you look at your calendar and realize that it’s time.

It is at this point that the strong hands of reality grip your shoulders and shake you up like no tomorrow, and you wonder, “where have I been all this time, what have I been doing all this time that the time went by so fast?!”

It’s April, people!! That’s insane.

A year ago, I had planned to do my auditions right around…oh, now! Then I broke my foot, and I tried to figure out when was the absolute latest that I could do my auditions, in case that I wouldn’t be ready by now. By January, I was no longer worried about having to delay my auditions, because my foot was fine, and surely I had enough time to work on everything before April rolled around.

And then, time happened. And it happened so quickly! And now it’s April, and I am not ready for my auditions.

Training for YAGP certainly took a lot of energy and time that, arguably, I could have spent ‘getting ready’ for my auditions, whatever that means. But really, I don’t think that is very true – because YAGP itself, and primarily the preparations involved in it, was probably one of the best things I could do to help me advance and ‘get ready’ [if not specifically for auditions then for my overall future], especially after recovering from such a major injury!

But, allow me to clarify; yes, it is somewhat alarming that we’re already well into spring! At least in the sense that it took me by surprise just how fast the months seem to have gone by (and continue to go by). However, I’m not freaking out. Well…maybe a little. But not like a complete psycho…haha.

So, in light of this recent insight as to what month it is already, I’ve decided to revamp my training routine so that I can be ready as soon as possible. Oh, and as far as when I will do my auditions? I don’t know! When I am ready, I suppose? A few paragraphs up I mentioned that, when I broke my foot, I tried to see how long I could actually go before it would be too late to audition – well, I figured that August is generally the absolute latest I can push it. I REALLY wanted to do them now. But, honestly, I don’t want to do them before being ready, and ruining my chances altogether.

Right now, I’m thinking to just go with the flow. I won’t throw my plans in the trash just because they didn’t work out perfectly – and I won’t forgo giving myself the credit I absolutely deserve! I might not be ‘ready’ now, as far as ‘ready’ pertains to how I envisioned ‘readiness’ a year ago – but I am so much closer to being ready than I was then! I mean, I even surprise myself when I think about it! So I am far form unhappy; if anything, I have just gained an increased awareness of the high expectations I set for myself (which, by the way, I consider to be a wonderful thing).

Maybe I will do the auditions this summer, while away in Europe. I could do that, although I wouldn’t have my teacher with me and I really feel that I need her direct help with this one. So then, I could do them when I come back in August. My only issue with this is that I won’t know what my plans are for the year until the very last minute! Maybe it’s all the better, though, to challenge my slightly overbearing tendencies to over plan and my probably-too-enthusiastic need to know exactly what I will be doing, when, where, with whom…! And so on. It’s a bit intimidating! But it can be done.

I guess, if I had to guess now, that what will end up happening is that I’ll do some auditions in May, some in the middle of summer, and some when I get back form my summer program. Hopefully that will leave me in a good place with several options to choose from. And, of course, I can’t forget that my summer program itself has a couple opportunities for advancement of training into the school year.

Regardless of when I do the auditions, right now my priority has to be doing everything I possibly can do to be ready – whenever that may be! I just have to be ready at some point. 

So, I’ve decided on a few key things that I should be doing in order to be ready!

  1. Sleep. I am making this my priority now! It influences my ability (or lack of) to do everything else well, how efficient I am in doing all of it, my moods – it’s just so important! Definitely more important than staying up to watch Game of Thrones with my family, no matter what the impulsive part of my brain tells me when I’m ‘in the moment’. I have Tivo, and my family will still be here on the weekend, so I can sleep comfortable, knowing that I will have a chance to watch it with them on a day I don’t come home so late.
  2. Pilates. I don’t know what sparked me to want to start this, but I know it’s supposed to be good for ballet dancers. I will admit I am a little intimidated by it. But I’m going to be a big girl and get over that, and start pilates! I will be satisfied and proud of myself if I do it even just once a week. My reasoning as to why I am ok with only doing it once a week? I am trying to make lasting habits, not temporary efforts to change my routine, so I need to make it manageable and enjoyable! That, as well as the fact that my schedule does not offer me the flexibility to fit in more than one class a week – even that one class is a real stretch!
  3. A better warm-up routine that I am comfortable with. I have a problem: I always try to do too much. I want to improve my arabesque, and my turnout, and my arches, and my pirouettes; and, like a good little girl, I turn to my ever-knowledgeable friend The Internet, determined to find exercises that will help me do all that and more! The determination fades a little – ok, a lot – when I print out the list of the aforementioned exercises and it is two pages long. At this point, I am usually scratching my head trying to figure out when I can fit all those exercises in; five minutes later I will give an exasperated sigh and abandon all hope of ever being able to do my exercises reap the glorious benefits. Or, I do find a way to fit it all in, but it is so impractical that   the frequency with which I do the routine declines rapidly! It’s awful, because I need my warm up before class. I used to have a solid routine down, but – and I realize this sounds stupid – I lost the paper it was written on, and I can’t find the file on my computer where I saved it! I did have it memorized, as anyone would after doing it every single day for years, but after the recent chain of injuries, time-offs, schedule changes, getting a job, starting college, yadda yadda yadda…the routine got abbreviated and shifted and messed around with and now it’s just not the same. So I made a new one. One that I think will last and serve its purpose well. But this time, I am going at it with a more reasonable approach – one of embracing an attitude of ‘go-with-the-flow’-ness. I won’t fret if I see that I need to adjust it. I will do what works for me. But at least now I will have a warm up routine I can count on!
  4. Lose weight. Well, this is the biggest one, really. But I put it last because I don’t have anything to say about it, because I don’t need to change anything I’m doing. I’m doing everything correctly because I’m not doing anything special at all, which is just the way it should be. The reality is that my body will only lose weight as quickly as it wants to lose weight, and it didn’t want to be at my goal weight by the date I had hoped it would. So I’ll just keep going and working toward being ready – and my body will be ready…when it is ready!

Today is the last day of Spring Break and so I thought it was the perfect and most appropriate opportunity to post this. I like the idea of finishing this break off knowing that I am going back into my training much more well-prepared and with goals and ways to achieve these goals. I’m excited!!

YAGP Officially Begins Tomorrow!

It’s the beginning of the end! And while I’m not actually driving to South Carolina until tomorrow night, the competition itself formally begins tomorrow at 1:00 pm, with registration for the Pre-Competitive Category.

I am competing in the Senior Classical Category, Group 2, and so my registration time is on Saturday at 3:30. Open stage for me is at 6:30, and my category’s actual competition begins at 6:45!

I have three numbers in between my variations, which is kind of not a lot. Medora is first and Talisman is second, though, which I am very happy about. I am supposed to wear my Medora costume without any tights, but because I’ll be in a rush to change in between variations already, we’ve decided to go ahead and wear tights with Medora’s costume anyway.

Pointe shoes hanging to dry after a tough rehearsal!

Obviously, I’m very excited and very much looking forward to it all! It’s going to be a fun-filled weekend to remember no matter what the outcome, and I plan on enjoying every minute of it because – why not?! Looking back to December, when I was just deciding to do YAGP again this year, I remember now that going into it I had every intention of just going to give my best performance; going because it’s the last year I am able to; going because it’s just one more opportunity to gather more performing experience; going because the process itself is so enriching, so character-building, so important; going because I wanted to put my best foot forward and make this year a good one, with many things by which to remember it by; going because I wanted a reason to train harder and more thoroughly and with a professional attitude and atmosphere; going for myself, because it’s fun; and most importantly, or at least more relevantly, I remember thinking: “I want to go on that stage without fear, without hesitation; I want to show them what I’ve got no matter how much progress I’ve made by then on my body and on my dancing; I want to act, dance, and present myself like the professional ballerina I will soon be; and I want to just GO out there and DO it and give my very all, my very best, and make myself proud. I want to have FUN!”

I can tell you now that I forgot about this. What with all the preparations, I had forgotten my initial intentions going into this and I let stress get the best of me. Well, not the best of me! But, in retrospect, I wish I would have remembered this. I will say, though, that I am so glad I remembered this NOW, before the competition! Just imagine how awful I would feel if I came back from the competition with only the thought of “I must be perfect, I must win, I must not let ‘XYZ’ down” and only remembered my truest intentions in participating after the fact? That would feel pretty frustrating, to realize I had missed an opportunity to really enjoy myself. So while it would have made this entire preparation process flow more smoothly if I had kept these goals in mind throughout, what’s done is done, and I DID do well despite forgetting this! I once made a promise to myself that I will have no regrets – ever. No ifs, and, or buts. I will only take what lessons I can from past decisions and use what I learn to improve on myself as I continue into the future.

And so, it is with this in mind that I go forward to YAGP this weekend! I am relieved that I luckily remembered my original intentions, and excited to really put my best foot forward and show them what I’ve got! I want to thoroughly enjoy this moment, this opportunity! And so – I WILL!

It’s as simple as saying I will. It’s as easy as deciding to go for it. And that applies to everything, not just this. Just something to think about…

As I finish up this post and get ready to write a packing list, sew last-minute pointe shoes, and generally just get ready for tomorrow’s nighttime travel, I take a short pause from thinking about what lies ahead this weekend and dedicate a minute to look back. I cann’t believe that 6 months ago, I broke my foot. A mere 4 months ago I was just starting my recovery from the injury, just starting to rebuild my strength and get back into ballet; a month after that I slipped on my pointe shoes again for practically the first time since mid-June. And while it feels like I’ve been preparing for YAGP for what seems like months upon months, in reality it’s only been 2 months! How incredible is that? Look what I’ve accomplished, look where I am! Look where I am headed to and from where I’ve began! That, if only there is a single thing, is something I can truly be proud of.

I’m not perfect, but I’m 100% improved from a year ago, 6 months ago, 2 months ago, yesterday, a minute ago – constantly improving, constantly getting better, little by little, inch by inch, and before you know it you’ve walked a million miles ahead from where you started. So I am proud of myself. I am happy with where I am. I look forward to the prospect of getting even better, because that’s what life is about, that’s what you always must strive to do, forever! But right here, right now – I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m exactly the best version of me that I could possibly be at this given moment. And that’s a wonderful thing 🙂

So, here’s to an amazing, fun, exciting weekend to remember! And I’m going into it with the attitude I established from the very beginning! Cool, calm, collected, professional, and with energy to just go out on stage and have a blast!

A Day in the Life, One Keek at a Time

Keek – verb (used without object) Scot. and North England. To peep; look furtively.

Follow me on Keek as I share microvideos of my life as a ballerina, one keek at a time!
(Still not sure what exactly Keek is all about? Think Twitter + YouTube rolled into one!)

3 Weeks and a Reflection

Yesterday evening I performed as a guest artist with Susan Chambers Dance Company in their concert. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to test out my variations on stage prior to performing them at YAGP!

Backstage with my coach in between variations

Stage make up!

For the most part, it went well – I made no major errors in my dancing, and I did thoroughly enjoy it, which was very important for me (and I therefore feel it was a success in at least one way!) Technically, my performance was not where it should have been – or, not where it needs to be for YAGP! While of course I could – and should – have done better, I think it was far from a failed performance! In fact, I feel that it was successful in another way, too. If you look back through some of my other posts, you will come across several mentions of the mentality I must have behind my dancing; one area of big focus recently has been learning not to be nervous [and then everything that goes along with, and is related to, this skill]. I am really happy to announce that I’m starting to really develop this skill! Yesterday I was not nervous, I was no excited – no, I was very calm, cool, and collected, and this is exactly as it should be! After all, this is my life! Just an ordinary day, an ordinary performance, no big deal at all 🙂

Still, there is no denying that I have a lot of work yet to be done!

I have 3 weeks now to really push myself to my limits, and I assure you I intend to do nothing less than my best! And when I have the intentions of doing something, I DO IT, no matter what!

In thinking about what exactly went wrong that made my performance anything less than perfect yesterday, and in an effort to do all I can to fix my faults and do it perfectly at YAGP (and from here on forward), I was able to gather a few ‘key points’ which I can now use to make some plans for how I will best put these next 3 weeks to good use. 3 weeks is a lot of time – if I use my time wisely and efficientlly!

Problem 1: I have been treating rehearsals and stage performances differently, taking a different approach to them and going in with a different frame of mind – and it should not be so! To further expand, I have been doing this in two ways: the first is that when I am dancing during rehearsal, the thought running through my head is, “It’s only rehearsal – if I mess up I can do it again – so I will take this ‘risk’ and push myself to do a triple pirouette and go above and beyond each time,” which is not a bad way to think in and of itself; however, the problem presents itself when this frame of mind is contrasted with the one running through my head while on stage, in which I find myself thinking, “Oh! It’s the real thing now, I’m on stage, and so I must do it well, I must not mess up, or else!” This translates into self-doubt, which results in me being cautious and careful – and I end up not doing nearly as well, both because I am doing, for example, less rotations in my turns, and also because any self-doubt peaks out under all that makeup and shows itself in my performance (and that’s very bad indeed)!

The second way in which Problem 1 comes about is my laziness. Wait, what?! Yep, I said it – laziness. Now, ‘lazy’ is the last adjective anyone, including myself, would use to describe me, but I feel that there is no better word to explain what is going on here. You see, I get tired – exhausted, actually! – during rehearsals…understandably so, considering I usually have rehearsals after classes and it’s late at night. But  understandable is not excusable! I tend to let any fatigue get the best of me, and I submit to [incredibly false] self-reassurances that, “Oh, it’s alright – I’ll do it better on stage, I’ll have enough energy and adrenaline then to  really do it full out!” Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, it’s completely the opposite – I need to KILL myself in rehearsal so that when I get to the stage I don’t need to give a second thought to have enough energy and adrenaline to get through the variation full out. Common sense – but it seems to escape me when I am aching and tired! Not anymore, though.

Solution 1:

  1. Treat rehearsals and performance the same exact way. They are the same exact anyway! Each rehearsal must be done as if I am on stage, and each performance will in turn be done the same as if I were in rehearsal. Not only will that result in a better performance (and overall better strength and stamina), but emotionally I will also be much improved. Technically and energy-wise, I will be stronger because of having practiced it  completely full out each and every time at rehearsal; and artistically, and emotionally, I will be stronger because of me going in with the same attitude on stage as I take with me into rehearsals – so there is no need to fear the stage any more than there is a need to fear rehearsals. Makes sense, don’t you think?
  2. Record myself during rehearsals. This will allow me to see my mistakes – and the good aspects of my dancing!! – for myself, and to better develop my performance. Seeing it for myself will also teach me more about self-correction and applying any corrections, as well as giving myself a better idea of how I actually dance [it’s funny, but now I think about it, I only have a vague “intrinsic” idea of what my dancing is like!] In addition to this, another benefit that goes along with recording myself is that it makes it more ‘equal’ to performances, which just goes back to helping me succeed in treating rehearsals and performances the same exact way, as I wrote about above.
Problem 2: One of my biggest corrections during my variations is my knees – I have trouble controlling them. They are hyperextended, but I tend not to straighten them all the way like they should be in some movements while I’m dancing. So I always need to focus on pulling my knees up and straightening them hard. I would like to do what I can to make this come more easily to me, so that I have to think about it less and that it’s just something that involves more muscle memory than…memory memory 😛 Luckily, there is an easy solution to this!
Solution 2:
  1. Do specific exercises to help strengthen and gain control of my knees.
  2. Be more mindful of my knees during class, and learn to use them properly then so that I can better apply it during rehearsal.
And honestly, I can [and should, and will] apply this same thing to my upper body and my arches, as well.
In these 3 weeks, I also will continue with my weight loss and body goals.
What else am I going to accomplish in these 3 weeks?
I’m going to focus like I have never focused before. This is the real thing, and it’s a very serious thing. There is no room for games, and no room for half-hearted attempts or any hint of hesitation. I’m taking a new approach to my dancing and it does not involve any childish behaviors or jokes.
I’m going to be calm and playful and artistic with my variations, and do them well each time. And I will look like a professional ballerina, not like a shy girl who wants to be a ballerina but is unsure of herself. NO, I am sure of myself and I will show it.
And I have a plan for how I will accomplish all of that! I intend to use every ounce of strength in me and every second of time I have to dedicate myself to this mission of sorts. I am going to try to get access to the studio some mornings so that I can go in by myself and work on everything from my exercises to my variations.
I have 4 days off now from ballet, which for once I am actually happy about and am very grateful to have. I am glad I have this time off because I hope that by resting for four days my body will heal all its injuries, namely my right hamstring. Perhaps my toe will feel better, too. I’m going to do everything I can to rest my body and help it heal – epsom salt baths, sauna, Finalgon…anything and everything to promote healing so that when I come back I can get down to things and work to my bare bones!

And so, the next three weeks are bound to be busy, but also incredibly growth-promoting and I am very much looking forward to perfecting my variations for YAGP!! I know I can do it because I HAVE done it!

I will finish this post with one last snippet of my recent epiphanies: my thought process during the actual variation is skewed from what it should be. I realized this yesterday. I realized that I was thinking about any mistakes I had made when really I needed to be thinking ahead instead! For example, instead of lingering on something that already happened [“my foot was supposed to be higher up in passe in that jump”], I need to forget about everything that I already did and go on to focus on whatever is coming next [“now I’m about to go into the hops in attitude turning around myself, so I have to remember to cross over”]. It’s something that seems like a little detail, but it will make all the difference in the world when I learn how to think ahead correctly instead of leaving my thoughts behind with things that really don’t matter any more! 

With that, I end my post-performance reflections, and I end it feeling much more clear about where I am, what I have to work on, and how I’m going to go about working on it. And I know now that I will be able to give as excellent of a performance as I wish to give by working harder, smarter, and better. Here’s to progress and success! I feel, metaphorically, like I’m plunging head-first into an unfamiliar side of the pool, much deeper. But its deepness only means that there is THAT much more to explore, that much more opportunity, that much more distance I can go further. I DO have the chance now to push myself further than ever and I am taking that chance with more enthusiasm than I’ve ever done anything else with before! And that feels great 🙂

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 🙂

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