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

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėõ 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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

Last Post of 2011! And what a year it has been…

Wow – what an incredible year 2011 has been for me! Looking back, it’s amazing that so many memories, so many experiences, so much growth has¬†occurred within what seems like an¬†unbelievably short amount of time. Probably my most significant marker to remember this year by is the complete¬†renewal¬†of ¬†enthusiasm and confidence I found in myself. The years 2009 and 2010 had their own moments of joy and success, but they seemed few and far between, and overall it was two years of my life that – for various reasons – I was unable to enjoy to their fullest. As for how that translated into my dancing…let’s just say that I wasn’t at my most glorious, and my dancing suffered, without a doubt.

It’s not until now that I can say without hesitation that the past year has had me seeing a complete turnaround! In actuality, things started getting better in Fall 2010, but it feels really right to say that 2011 was the year of initiative, of second chances; of new beginnings and new goals; and most importantly, it was the year in which I regained the confidence that had slipped through my fingers and away from me two years before. Subsequently, my dedication and determination has soared exponentially – and now, I find myself closer than ever to my dreams, just inches away from the next step that will get me closer to achieving my goals. It’s an incredible feeling.

Believing in myself fully is not the only good development to happen this past year. Other¬†people started believing in me more, most important of which is my ballet teacher. I started sharing my goals with other people, because I no longer felt ashamed of them, like I was shooting for too much (by the way, there is no such thing – do not ever¬†let anyone tell you otherwise!). I lost weight – and I’m still losing weight – and I trust myself that I will get to my required weight, something I had difficulty trusting in before for some irrational reason, and which I now know¬†will happen because I know it is in my power (and no one else’s) ¬†to make it happen! I discovered that my body had changed, regardless of the weight loss (I speak here of my facility¬†changing, which is to say my arches, knees, etc.)¬† and ever since my teacher pointed it out, I have been ever-more motivated because I know it is possible to change and improve and do more, always. I learned an unforgettable lesson backstage during a concert when I was in tears because I thought I had let my teacher down with a less-than-perfect performance and she told me I had to “stop eating myself up”; while on the topic, I might mention that probably ever performance will feel less-than-perfect – such is the hazard of being a perfectionist, but it has it’s benefits; it is only important to remember that you are your own worst critic. I broke my foot and struggled through the process of recovery but not without gaining incredible inner strength as an outcome (I can easily say I came out stronger for it in the end, clich√© as it sounds). I started teaching, which has been a fulfilling and educational experience already. I started this blog!
I made the decision to really go for it, and I took the initiative.

And look where I am now!! I am preparing for YAGP, raising funds to go study ballet in Austria over the summer, getting ready to audition for the best ballet academies in the world later this year. I am surprised by how much I have accomplished in 2011, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself for it. Without a doubt, 2011 was a huge year for me.

This past year didn’t change¬†me; I’m still who I am. I’m just an improved version of myself. I’m Noa 2.0! ¬†

But enough talking about this past¬†year! I’m excited for this¬†year, for 2012 and all it has to offer. I can’t explain this feeling I have, but it’s a feeling of trust – for myself and for my future. I just know¬†that 2012 is going to be a momentous year for me, with a lot of significance to the rest of my life. Simply put, I am¬†beaming with enthusiasm and fervent energy, I feel vivacious and ambitious and excited, and I am confidence, dedicated, and determined! How could anyone doubt that I will find success this year with that¬†kind of attitude?! I am just thrilled that I feel so happy!¬†

By the way, I don’t mean to imply that I don’t have my ups and downs! Far from it, I am not a superhuman, and we all have our bad days. But what is important and what we really end up remembering, as is evidenced by this post,¬†¬†is the overall trend.

Yesterday I had a bit of an off-day myself. My friend Remy Lamping, who is training at the Bolshoi and who is totally inspirational, chatted with me and said some things that spoke true and made me feel a whole lot better! It seems like our bad days are the days in which we tend to forget about all this stuff – so maybe what we should be doing is always keeping these thoughts tucked away in our mind. As we go into this new year with passion and an unbreakable will to achieve our goals, let’s keep in mind some of these ideas that came up in mine and Remy’s discussion last night:

  • Don’t let anyone tell you your limits or hold you back. if you want to do something, do it, and if they really believe in you they will support you.
  • You have to keep a good head on your shoulders and think clearly, know your goals. they are actually not that far away, if you take the right path
  • We will all get where we ‘need’ to be, it’s just that on the road to getting there, there are bumps along the way and we can’t necessarily see far enough out into the horizon to know that we will get to the right place…but we just need to trust that we will, because we will
  • There are still girls who have everything handed to them on a silver platter, but they never know how hard it is for people like us, and that makes success for us so much sweeter, knowing that we did all the work to make it happen (note: this is not to suggest that some people don’t have to work to get where they are – everyone has to work hard; but there is no denying that some people must work harder, and I do believe that having to fight battles and break through barriers to get to your goals brings with it a much stronger sense of reward and achievement)¬†
  • It is no good worrying about things that you can’t change. there’s nothing you can do about it, so worrying is just going to make you unhappy
  • Don’t eat yourself up
  • There is always something greater to strive for
  • Haters gonna hate. Potatoes gonna potate ūüėÄ
  • You can’t make people love you – you can only stalk them and hope for the best ūüėÄ

Obviously, we had quite the deep (and, erm, interesting!) discussion yesterday! But while talking through it, we realized all these things to be incredibly true and applicable to our lives. So as you go through 2012 Рthe good and the bad Рremember the above words of wisdom! And, most importantly, never give up!
Happy New Years! May all your wishes come true and all your goals be achieved (I know mine will)!

Almost a year ago today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read more about Remy, check out her blog. 

 

 

 

The Problem Cabinet

I take comfort in the thought that happiness would have no value if we had no frustration to compare it to. Still, I am welcoming this good feeling knowing I’m back to normal and happy again with arms wide open!

I should probably clarify what I am talking about. You know those days where you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and the whole world seems bleak and gray? Those days when the most mundane tasks seem to require every ounce of effort you can muster? When the thought of all of the things that are to come, all the things you must do, all of the things standing in your way – is terribly daunting and you are so stressed you fear you may pull your hair out? And then one more little problem comes along to sit atop the pile of frustrations you are already feeling, but it’s that one final little problem that throws the pile off balance and it all comes crashing down and buries you underneath it all. You stay stuck under the rubble, unable to get out, for a good few days.

Then finally, seemingly out of the blue, you wake up to find that the pile of rubble you are buried under is not all that heavy, and if you only calmly stood back up you would be able to get out of there and continue with your life. You push off the ground and get back on your feet, dust yourself off, and look down to see your frustrations littered around you, lifeless and unable to do much harm to you.

After taking a few minutes to pick up the frustrations and order them neatly on that shelf in the cabinet in the back of your mind…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…you strut off to continue on the path you were walking down before, your chin up in the air, your head clear, and your confidence emanating through your proud smile and that glow on your face.


That was, in a dramatic analogy, what my weekend was like. Thank goodness for the happy ending! Now if only I could find a way to skip the part where I feel stuck under the pile in the future…but I suppose it’s all part of the dynamic nature of, well, being a human. And really, that of being a ballet dancer. I mean, I might not be as far gone and crazy as Nina Sayers, but even that¬†over-the-top, insane story (which I love, by the way – I am a Black Swan¬†fan!) is based in truth. We ballerinas are crazy, in some sense of the world, for our art. And I don’t think we could make it to the top any other way!emanating through your smile and that glow on your face – you know you can handle anything, one little problem at a time, storing them in the cabinet to wait their turn to be dealt with, on your¬†schedule.

I once heard a quote – unfortunately I cannot remember where, and a¬†Google¬†search has proved unhelpful – about how in order to be a ballerina, you must be a little bit of a masochist. I must say, that rings true in so many ways! And I must disagree with Tamara Rojo, who said, in an interview last summer, that “ballet dancers don’t enjoy the pain. We’re not masochists.” I beg to differ! For a prime example, just try to explain the giddy expression on a young girl’s face after she is bestowed the honor of her first blood blister!

Of course, this is all in good humor, and I am only [half] joking!

 

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