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

Back in the States but Looking Back at December in Perm

Hi from Atlanta! On Monday night, I landed back in Atlanta to much excitement, many hugs, and a lot of happiness. I traveled for nearly 30 hours altogether, which made for a tiring and long trip, but the anticipation of seeing my family made the trip pass by smoothly and kept me energized!

Last week I promised I would update you all on the happenings in Perm this past months – quite obviously I never got around to that! So, let’s see, where did I leave off last time…?

The first night of Hanukkah fell on December 7 (the first day of Hanukkah was December 8, but the Jewish calendar begins every holiday the evening before). Hanukkah is a very special holiday for me – I was born on the first candle, and so it’s always been my holiday! It was very strange to think about spending the holiday all alone and away from my family and friends, and lighting candles by myself every night. Luckily, I didn’t have to celebrate all by myself, at least not on the first – and, for me, most important – night! The city of Perm has it’s own branch of Chabad, which forms Perm’s Jewish community. My family and I got in touch with the rabbi and his family before my arrival in Perm, and I met them on Jewish New Years, a very short while after my arrival in Perm. They are such nice people, and very hospitable. I kept in touch with them and shortly before Hanukkah, they invited me to their house for the first night to light the candles. It was so much fun, and it really gave me a proper holiday like it should be every year! Not only that, but they also went above and beyond by making me a birthday cake. I went home that night feeling so fulfilled, and warm, and happy, and incredibly appreciative of them for helping me celebrate my favorite holiday quite thoroughly!

The week after, on December 14, the time for Historical Dance exam had already rolled around. For exams, the class and the teacher decides on an outfit together, we get measured and fitted for it, and then it is made for us according to our measurements and specifications.

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You probably know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever seen any of the exam videos from the Vaganova Academy, for example, on YouTube. This year, our class has a light pinkish-purplish leotard and skirt. For our Historical exam, we didn’t wear the matching skirt, as in Historical we wear our black character skirts. We will wear the skirts for out Classical exam in June. I took a picture of the leotard to show off 🙂 Oh, and the exam went really well! It was my first ever exam, and it was nice to have it in Historical rather than Classical as my first.

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During this time, decorations went up in the school, in the dorms, in the city – everywhere! And it was all so beautiful and festive.

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We [the foreign students] even made a poster to put up on the school walls. Line drew the snake – she’s got some mad skills! We wrote a holiday wish in each of our languages, with a little drawing of our country’s flag next to it.

Having finished our exams, and having reached our final weekend here with all of us together, a group of us decided to hit one of the favorite restaurants here, Tsuru, for some sushi. We had wanted to go there for a while, and we decided that since my birthday and the New Year was approaching, we should finally go and celebrate them both.

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It was nice to go out with the festive spirit – and with a lot less stress than we had been feeling in the weeks prior, seeing as exams were mostly finished and we were all ready to finish up for the holiday break. As an added bonus, the food was excellent! [One thing America should learn from Russia, and really every other country, is to serve smaller portion sizes at restaurants. That, and the metric system.]

Line found peanut butter [practically non-existent in Russia!] and a travel mug [which I had been looking for unsuccessfully] and gave them to me as my birthday present! This was the best present of the day and I am so happy I finally have a thermos to use! We really enjoyed the peanut butter =]

Line found peanut butter [practically non-existent in Russia!] and a travel mug [which I had been looking for unsuccessfully] and gave them to me as my birthday present! This was the best present of the day and I am so happy I finally have a thermos to use! We really enjoyed the peanut butter =]

Finally, on 20 December, my birthday was here! That was fun! I already posted about it being my first birthday away from home and how my parents made it as wonderful as always, but I never did post the pictures from the rest of the day. I got so many wonderful treats and gifts from my friends at school [and not all of them are pictured – by the end of the day, I was drowning in sweets!], and it was so much fun to have cake with everyone at the end of the day! See, the school bakes a cake for each student on their birthday.

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Some of the birthday gifts and treats I got from my friends at the academy!

Having cake in the evening

Having cake in the evening

The day was really great, full of chocolates and cake, as you can see, and I really enjoyed my birthday-away-from-home!

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On my last day before going back home for the break I was out doing some last-minute shopping and I decided to take some pictures for you guys of the theater and the surrounding park.

I’d like you all to know that I sacrificed all feeling my right hand for about five minutes after taking these pictures! I had to take off my glove and WOW it was COLD. I was “only” about -25 C, however; over the New Year, it will reach -37 C and maybe even less than -40 C! I, however, will be spending the first four days of the New Year in a warm Miami temperature as my family heads there for a family vacation! Until then, and after we get back from Miami, I will be spending my break in the still-cold-yet-much-more-bearable climate of Atlanta. I’m making the most of it, knowing that soon enough I will return to even colder weather than before I left in Perm when I go back for second semester mid-January!

Wishing you all a happy [and warm!] holiday season,

Until next time!

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Time Has Found Me

I was going to start this over-due update by saying that I’ve finally managed to find a large enough chunk of time in which to sit comfortably, bottomless cups of black coffee by my side, and take as long as I wish to write and blog and enjoy myself thoroughly while doing it. I was going to start this post with it, and then I realized I didn’t actually find time…it feels more like time found me!

Ok, maybe that makes less sense written down than it did in my head, but allow me to explain myself:

Half of the school is sick. Ok, not quite so many people as to make up half of the school, but a lot of people have come down with a cold/flu. Isolation? It’s full to the brim. Of us foreign students, several people are tending to a mild case of the sniffles. And two of us – me included – are in isolation. I tried to avoid the nurses the last few days, because I was doing everything in my power to continue going to classes. My philosophy? If I’m not dying, I’m going to class. And honestly, if i were dying, I might want to spend my last days dancing, too. Haha!

My plan worked, but not for long; by yesterday afternoon I was in isolation after E.L. sent me there from class. Luckily, since the isolator is so full, Sara and I were allowed to stay in our rooms on our floor of the dormitories, which is so much more comfortable – and less boring! – than having to stay in the isolator itself. I still hate isolation, though! It means that we can’t leave the dorm building, not even to go to the school for out meals. Instead, they bring our food to the isolator [there is a small dining room there], and we eat there.

Anyone that knows me will know that I’m not fond of sitting around all day doing nothing. Or even if I am doing something productive, or something necessary like homework – I just don’t like sitting around. It makes me feel lazy. I like moving. Not being able to leave the building makes for very few opportunities for movement; unless you count going up and down the stairs when they call for me from the infirmary, the extent to which I can expect to get any exercise is the movement of my fingers on the keyboard as I type!

But, I digress. Not having a choice in the matter has at least given me a wonderful opportunity to catch up with blogging. And honestly, I am glad for that! Since it’s not my choice to sit around all day, I cannot possibly feel guilty for being lazy….right? Right?!

I plan on at least being productive today. Here I am writing my blog, and soon I will post more pictures and updates about what has been going on here lately. I also plan on crossing something else off my to-do list that has been lingering there for weeks – making holiday/New Years cards for my friends here!! There are only about two more weeks until we go home for break and some of my friends are leaving even earlier than me, so I really want to spend some time to make really nice cards for everyone.

Plus, I have to plan gifts. And I have to plan my birthday. It’s tradition here to give others something when it’s your birthday. For my birthday, I plan on making a cake or a treat to share with my friends in the dorm (the foreign students). Then, a group of friends and I (which includes also not-foreign students) are planning on having a little get-together, and i will have to make/bring something yummy for that, too. And finally, there is my class. It’s common to give everyone a big bar of chocolate. I might do that – or, if I haven’t tired of making something myself, I might try my hand at making yet another goodie to share with my class. I will mention that we have no kitchen – but we do have a microwave, an immersion blender, and a rice cooker. This makes for some sparks of creativity and it’s actually quite fun to discover just how much you can make without a kitchen! Case in point: I made everyone truffles last weekend. Yeah, I know. I rock. But anyway…my birthday is on the 20th, which is two weeks from today! So I’ve got to get planning and making and doing!

I’m off to go work on some updates for you all…they’ll be up today, that’s for sure!

Winter is Coming. No, Wait – Winter has Come!

The snow began a few weeks ago, although I’m quite surprised at how little snow there is on the ground. I probably shouldn’t be too ‘worried’, though, as the weather forecast has us preparing to expect temperatures  of “feels like” … Continue reading

Perm preparations are underway! And an article about me in The Forward!

If you’ve been following my updates, you will know that the last month and a half of my life was filled with some very exciting, life-changing news; along with that news came the slightly intimidating task of figuring out how to actually make it happy in the very short time frame between my acceptance and the start of the school year!

Until early August, I was still out of the country and away from home, so while we were already trying to come up with a plan, the real preparations started about a week and a half ago when I returned home after my long summer abroad. Writing this makes me realize how much I actually got done already recently! It feels like I’ve been home much longer than a week, but I suppose that’s because I plunged headfirst into all the preparations, checking off items on my to-do list daily (although, mysteriously, it just keeps getting longer). I also came home one day before the new school year here started – and therefore, fall ballet classes. I have of course been taking classes every day and will continue to do so until I go to Perm. It’s going to be so difficult to say good bye to everyone, especially my teacher, at my last class here…

That said, I still don’t know when that last class will be! It all depends on when I leave, which depends on when I get my Russian visa, which depends on how quickly the consulate processes everything. That’s ok, though – with all the arrangements still left to take care of, I wouldn’t be ready to leave tomorrow even if I wanted to badly and had a visa that allowed me to do so! I do, however, know that I must be in Perm by September 15. It makes me a little sad that I will miss the ceremonies of the first day of school on September 1, but I’ve realize that there’s no point in letting what I can’t change get me down – and anyway, I plan on succeeding this year and making it into first course next year, in which case I will have three more years of September firsts to experience!

I suppose you can consider this my first official “Perm” update! I’m not sure how great the internet will be in Perm; in fact, the question of it’s actual availability has still gone somewhat unanswered. However, I will do my best to find enough good internet connection to stay in touch and post updates as regularly as possible! And, despite the lack of pictures recently, I have not forgotten how to take a photo…I have just been slightly busy with other stuff, haha. But I do intend to take many, many pictures of my life in Perm because it is something I want to document and share, so you can most certainly count on my future updates from Perm to have at least a few interesting pictures!

And finally, I’m excited to share with you all an article that was written about me by Lisa Trager in The Forward, a New-York based newspaper: First Israeli to Study in Russian Ballet Academy

Thank you Lisa!

Dressing Room Writers Interview

A big hello to all my readers!

Those that read my last post will know that I received really wonderful news about being accepted to the Perm State Choreographic School. This last month has been hectic and busy and full of dancing as I’ve been away at my summer intensive in Salzburg, and while I found it challenging to make time to blog (hence my absence), I was at least able to make some progress with my arrangements for Russia. After a lot of thinking and changes of plans, I finally arrived at the decision to go to Russia in September!

Yesterday, I finished up the program here in Salzburg (with an excellent show, I might add!), and tonight I will be flying back to Israel for a short while before heading back home to Atlanta. In all, I will have been away from home for two months, and I will have about one month at home before starting my new life in Perm, Russia. It will be difficult to leave everybody, but it is what I want most! And being away from home in different countries these past couple months has really provided me with some notions of what to expect in Russia, and I can only feel glad that I at least have a month at home to use what I learned here to help me best prepare for what Russia holds for me. I know it will be more challenging than anything else I have ever done in my life, but rather than be intimidated or worried, I am actually more eager than ever to get the ball rolling and start my training there!

One of the other things I’ve been doing in my [limited!] free time here is that I have set up a Go Fund Me account. I did this in order to try to raise at least a portion of the funding that I need to go to Perm. Any assistance I can get is appreciate and very much helpful! If you think you might be able to contribute to the fund, you can find my project here. I am so thankful to everyone who would be able to help me go to Perm!

I have not found a sponsor yet, but I still hope to do so. Having a sponsor would make a world of a difference!

In my quest to find a sponsor, I came across Dressing Room Writers, a newly launched dance website with a lot of promise to develop and grow to be a wonderful resource for dancers all over. I ended up being interviewed by them, and the interview is now live online! I am so thankful and honored to have been interviewed by Dressing Room Writers, and am hopeful that the interview might spread my news and assist me in finding a sponsor!

I hope you enjoy reading my answers to some very interesting [and difficult] questions. It took me a while to answer, but that was only because it was so important to me to really give an honest and thought-out response with my opinions.  Read the interview here! Enjoy 🙂

By the way – I have another interview coming soon! Keep your eyes peeled!

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!