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

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 ūüôā¬†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 Рand 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 Рby 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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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

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 ūüôā

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 Рwhenever 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!!

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 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

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

A Speech to Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back ‘on my toes’ – an update on my foot!

For those that don’t know, I fractured my fifth metatarsal on August 29 during ballet class. It was pretty devastating! Somehow, though – probably thanks to all the support I got from friends, family, and teachers – I made it through. Yesterday I was allowed back en pointe (hence the pun, totally intended, in the title!) and I am very happy to report that it went much better than I had expected. There was still a bit of tightness in my left ankle, which made it difficult to achieve the same degree of range of motion as I have on my right side, but it was hardly a problem — I was still able to get over my box just fine. So, no complications I wasn’t expecting, which is really great news! I feel that by the end of the week I will feel much better and more stable up en pointe, and with my full range of motion back. If not by the end of this week, then very soon!

In honor of this major event, I decided to dedicate this post to my injury, writing a sort of timeline of my injury, from date of injury until now — cool x-ray pictures included! But before I do that, I quickly want to mention two things. First of all, sorry for being MIA since Saturday; it’s finals week! ‘Nuff said. Second, my teacher told me something really significant and important to me yesterday, that made me really proud of myself. Remember my private studio time I had last week over Thanksgiving break? Well, yesterday during class, my teacher told me she thinks that week of working on my own really helped and made a difference. I am so happy¬†that she said that, because not only does it confirm what I thought to be true (I, too, could feel that I was able to work better¬†the past two days as a result of last week), but it also means that I met the goal I had set for myself last week — if you recall, my goal was to really use that week to work on details and do whatever I need to do so that I can come back after break feeling like I’m really better¬†from my injury, really back.¬†And I most definitely¬†feel that way! So, a pat on the back for me…

And now, the timeline! As it so happens, the fracture I had is known as a Dancer’s fracture. Needless to say that helped ease some of the pain, knowing I had acquired a true battle scar! Still, it was a long process:

[Note: I had some difficulty getting the pictures placed correctly throughout my post; as a result, all pictures mentioned are included together at the bottom of this post. I would love for them to be distributed throughout the post next to their respective date on the timeline, but I was unable to make this happen. Oh well — practice makes perfect! Maybe next time!]

August 29, evening – Date of injury; swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking noted immediately upon injury; I ended up finishing the whole class, including jumps, but found myself in tears by the time class was over, and by then I was limping.

August 30, morning Р First visit to the new orthopedist; I called early morning after a restless night of ibuprofen, icing, elevation, and compression (and lots of tears!); upon physical examination, orthopedist notices tenderness, swelling, and bruising, and diagnoses a fracture to the 5th metatarsal, confirmed by x-ray. As the x-ray shows, the fracture was non-displaced, which is an excellent thing. If it were displaced, I would have had to have surgery! And two surgeries throughout my 18 years of life is plenty already. I was put in a cast and ordered to use crutches; I was to be on crutches, non-weight bearing, for 6 weeks. Here are pictures of the first set of x-rays.

September 21 РThree-week check-up; the purpose of this appointment was to make sure the fracture stayed in place, and did not shift to become displaced. If it had shifted, it would have, as I said above, required surgery to treat. Luckily, it stayed in place, as is evidenced by the x-rays (take through the cast!)

October 5 РAfter 5 weeks in the cast, my foot was healing well, and I was able to get the cast removed and to begin my transition off of crutches! I was fitted into a walking boot and told to gradually come of the crutches over the first week with the boot (partial weight-bearing);  on the second week wearing the boot I would be allowed to weight-bear and go without crutches completely. This was a happy moment for me! In addition the the x-rays, I managed to snap a photo of the nurse actually in the process of removing my cast. Pretty cool, right?!

October 12 — A significant day, because this is the day I said “au revoir!” to my dear¬†crutches. A comical picture in honor of the occasion:

October 19 – Two weeks after being out of the cast and using the boot (and one week after abandoning my crutches), I was given the “ok!” to get back to my normal life! The boot was removed and I was given a special ankle brace to wear for a week, after which I would be allowed to start dancing again. That same day, I was able to start physical therapy; in addition to exercises tailored to me, my physical therapists (PTs) also use other methods to facilitate my rehabilitation. These methods include massage and a technique called dry-needling, pictured below alongside pictures of x-rays from that same day.

October 25 – My first day back at ballet! Ok, I admit, I cheated — I went back to class one day earlier than I was originally supposed to. But have no fear, it’s all good! My physical therapists were totally ok with it, as I was progressing quickly already. My first day, I only did barre. At this point, I was also not doing anything on demi-pointe.

October 26 – Just a day later, my PTs allowed me to begin working on demi-pointe. I was really progressing quickly! It was very difficult for me to rise on to demi-pointe, especially so when it was a single-leg rise on my left leg — in fact, I could hardly do it at all! This is understandable, considering how atrophied my muscles were. For a while, I was doing my best to try to get up on demi-pointe, but was unable to actually do it well; this only lasted a short while, but it is worth noting that there was a period in the beginning when I was only rising up on demi-pointe when I was on both feet or only on my right foot. Thankfully it was a short period. It is also worth mentioning that I did have some pain still at this point. As a matter of fact, I still do now, even though it is much improved. If anyone is wondering, the pain was mostly throughout my metatarsals, around my ankle (which was extremely stiff from having been¬†immobilized¬†for such a length of time), and on the balls of my foot (because the muscles there were atrophied as well and so I had no padding — this made it very difficult to try to rise up on demi-pointe, because it felt as if I was putting all my weight on just the bones underneath my foot, which was rather painful.) Even though I had pain, it was all pain that was expected; my physical therapists were ok with that kind of pain, as long as I wasn’t feeling any pain on the outer left side of my foot where the fracture was. Any other pain was [is] just muscular and was [is] ok.

November 16 – After three weeks of being back to ballet, I was approved to start jumps again! By this point, I was already able to rise up to demi-pointe on only my left leg from quite some time and with minimal issues.

November 18 – My latest visit to the orthopedist! This was my 4-week follow-up. I was nervous! But it turns out there was nothing to be worried about, because after taking a look at the x-rays, my orthopedist told me she was very pleased with how my foot looks and that it’s doing really well. Needless to say, I was so¬†relieved!

November 29 – Yesterday, which happened to be exactly 5 weeks since I had first started dancing again, I was allowed to go back en pointe! It went really well, as I said earlier, and I am so excited that I am now back to doing full classes! In honor of the occasion yesterday, here is a picture of some more needling we did in physical therapy to prepare me better for going up en pointe!

Looking back at all this, I really couldn’t be happier with my progress. It’s been a total of 13 weeks (and 2 days) since I injured myself (that’s just over 3 months), and just a day over 5 weeks that I’ve been back to ballet, and as of yesterday I am back to doing a full class each time, which is really a great improvement. Now that I did pointe yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised by it not being as difficult as I initially expected it to be, I am looking forward to what the future has in store for me even more; and, I am way¬†more confident that I can continue with this year and all the plans I had for it as if nothing ever happened! For those that are wondering, these plans include, but are not at all limited to: participating in YAGP for the last year I am eligible; performing as a guest artist in a concert in February (most likely doing a PDD); and¬†beginning¬†the audition process for the many academies (mainly abroad, in Europe) that I am set to audition for (as well as, maybe, some professional theater auditions — TBD).

So, nothing is set in stone, but what with the way things are going, it looks as if everyone was right — I am coming out of this stronger than I was going in. I guess it’s true. What doesn’t kill you really does¬†make you stronger!

I just have to share, as an example — yesterday during pointe we did pique turns from the corner. Now, I’ve always loved these and been¬†particularly¬†good at them…on my right¬†side. I always had trouble with my left. Now, remember that yesterday was my first day back en pointe. But guess what? My pique turns to the left were just as good¬†as my pique turns to the right! So I can definitely say that, if anything, something¬†good did at least come out of this! And that is that I no longer have such a discrepancy between my ability to do pique turns on my right as compared to my left. And this is a big deal! So I am very happy. Oh, and as another note of my progress, my pirouettes have improved considerably. Yesterday they were absolutely on, and I was doing clean triples. My jumps, which I tend to¬†excel¬†at, at least more so than turns, are also significantly better and are improving each day.

All in all? I’m a happy girl!

If you have any questions about my injury, physical therapy, your own injuries/concerns, please do not hesitate to ask. While I am not a doctor by any means, and definitely not a substitute for one, I (unfortunately for me) have plenty of experience with injuries and would gladly share my experiences and advice with you if you ask for it. In addition, I hope that this timeline of sorts could potentially help someone who develops a similar injury — I know I would have liked to see something like this when I first injured myself, so that I might get an idea of what recovery would be like, even keeping in mind that it can vary among different persons. So, please, comments and/or questions are most definitely welcome!¬†

I wish you all a good day and a happy non-Thanksgiving (because break is over, and we’re back at ballet! Woohoo!)