Archive | December 2013

Day One

As promised, I am going to detail “day one” of my new ballet journey.

But first, I would like to report that I have quit the other studio entirely. At first, I thought I would only knock down a class, but after some careful consideration, I decided I needed to make a clean break altogether. Boom. Done. I have gladly finished that chapter of my life. I held on to that place as long as I could, but enough was enough. I could not keep placing myself in an environment where I was constantly being misunderstood, and as a result, disliked and not trusted by the people I called friend and fellow student. So, I packed my pointe shoes, my fabulous leotard collection and my sparkling personality and B-lined to greener pastures. I wanted to call the General and thank her for all that she had done over the last year and 1/2 and explain why my departure was necessary, but to no avail. Instead, I texted the goodbye as best as I could. Needless to say, the General fortified my reasons as to why it was necessary to part ways. My departure is a good decision at this time.

I am also sad to report that I lost more then a mentor and studio from the mess that had developed over the last year, but a very important friendship as well. This friendship was destroyed as a result of a series of unfortunate events, and not coincidentally, centered around the studio I just left. My friend actually believed some of the terrible things said about me. That is the most frustrating thing about this whole situation and I feel there is nothing I can do to change her mind at the current moment. I think it is best that we take a break and reset. Hopefully, our relationship sill get back on track once I leave the studio and have had some time to breath.

Anywhoooooooooooo.

Day one. I am born. I am born a ballerina. Well, more like an aspiring ballerina, but a ballerina nonetheless. The new studio is 20 minutes from my home, which is much farther then my last studio. But hell, driving is a small price to pay for some tranquility in my life. I had to try the adult class to see what classes I would be eligible for. The instructor is very old school – quite, strict, yet helpful and encouraging. It was a welcomed attitude. I was nervous I was going to disappoint. The class went much better than I thought. The pace was slowed down a bit, but that’s ok. I need to work on so many things. Breaking everything down is exactly what I need.

Then came pointe. Ummmmm yeah. So nervous about that. I could tell the instructor was skeptical of my abilities, since she was aware that I had only taken ballet for 2 years. Well, the class went great! We did this combination across the floor where we bourree’d, while turning and doing our port de bras. So awesome. I felt so pretty. Then we did a waltz step in demi-pointe into a pirouette. I was able to do that too! At the end of class, I was happy to hear that I was good enough to take level 1-2 and pointe classes there!!! Yippeeeeee!

Although, I have to say. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. There is so much I still struggle with, like executing combinations beyond an 8-16 count, keeping my upper body aligned and controlling my “gymnast” arms, as my instructor calls them; I worry I will look like a goon in the level 1-2 class. However, the instructor did say that it takes years to get good at ballet and that she was impressed as to how far I have come in just a short period of time. Well, that was encouraging! Also, I was not asked to do one triple pirouette! Hell, I wasn’t even asked to do a double! I just did my single pirouettes with a big old smile on my face!!! So, I think if I just focus on adjusting to this studios repertoire, I should be ok. *Squee.

Classes begin January 4th. I am so thrilled that I was afforded the opportunity to join another studio and take classes beyond a basic beginner level. I’m so excited to start classes in the new year. I can just burst!

I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks again for all of your encouraging words! You give me strength. Kisses!!!!

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Boom.

And just like that – my world is already changing.

Over the last 24 hours, I have had an outpour of positive words and emails (you know who you are πŸ˜‰) of encouragement from my readers. I had no idea how much you all actually cared about me and enjoyed my (often rambling) blog posts. I feel so loved right now. *tear.

I promise not to disappoint any of you. Tonight was my first step in reclaiming my love for ballet. Keep an eye out for my next blog post regarding “day one” of my new ballet journey.

Until then, I would like to say, once again, thank you for your unrelenting love and support. I hope you all have a very, very, Merry Christmas. Drink lots of wine and eat too much food. At least, that’s what I intend to do!

Kisses and hugs from LB!!

Christmas Picture

Given the somewhat depressing nature of my previous post, I thought I would share with you a great picture taken of me and my husband during my company Christmas party! I know I look a little wild, but it was intentionally flamboyant. This has been a rough couple of months for me and I figured there is no way you can be sad in a sparkle dress, gold rhinestone stilettos and red top hat! Am I right?!

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Time for Change

I need a change, because guess what. Things have changed and I have not adapted yet.

I realized something recently. Well, to be honest, two hours ago. When you are an “adult” ballet beginner, your goals are drastically more different then beginners in their adolescent years. Adult beginners are never, ever, going to go pro. I don’t care how bad you want to. That shipped sailed many years ago, my friend.

Adult beginners will always have limitations. A split or a decent turnout may never be accomplished, no matter how often you stretch. Or even spin without feeling dizzy or be able to do a clean triple pirouette without falling over. Work, work, work. It doesn’t matter. To an adult beginner – these forms of accomplishments may all be mere fantasies. Like unicorns and chupacabras.

However, “ballet reality” is different for an adolescent beginner who is, and I’ll be generous, 8 years old. The 8 year old will likely be able to become super flexible, turn without losing focus and even land quadruple pirouettes, if they work hard enough. Time is on the adolescent’s side. The world of ballet is at his/her finger tips. They need only reach out and grab that unicorn; right by its pointy, majestic horn.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that most adolescents who study ballet will never become professional dancers. I’m am not at all delusional about the realities of that career path. My point is that most people will never get decent at ballet unless you start early in life. Period. Reality just slapped you in the pie-hole and she is really, really ugly. Like throw a paper bag over your head, stick you in the basement and never tell the neighbors, kind of ugly. Yup. She’s a real beast.

You are now asking, “If you are not going to be any good, what’s the point of taking ballet as an adult then?” Valid question and well deserved. Allow me to enlighten you.

When you are an adult and take the deep plunge into ballet, your goals are different from an adolescents’. Sure, adolescents and adults want to learn how to dance, but adults need something more. Something added that may not ever be articulated, or even realized, by a much younger student. As adults, we need the experience. The whole enchilada. (Mmmmmmm. I really could use a burrito right now…..). This means: ballet education with lots of fun. That’s right – fun. Fun fun fun. Because what’s the point of working your ass off, pulling a muscle or herniating a disc unless you are having the time of your life doing it. You feel me??

When I started ballet I had education and lots of fun. The last several months – my experience lacks the fun. Like, entirely lacks it. As a result, I have been super miserable during every class.

So what happened? Well, a lot of things. Some of which I cannot go into. What I will say is that some of the friendships that were subsequently formed because of ballet (which I cherished, deeply) have disintegrated. Ok. Destroyed. Not by choice; by chance. Maybe it was entirely my fault. I don’t really know. I am not an easy person to like. Either way, the loss of this “interpersonal connection” has had an adverse effect on my ballet progress. So much so that every time I walk into the studio I cannot concentrate. I cannot function. I tense up and I shut down. It’s terrible and I cannot proceed at the pace I am going.

I need to rediscover the “fun”. I love ballet and I know I can have fun again. I just have to muster up the courage to make the change I so desperately need. Well, guess what? I am. January, 2014, I am going to take ballet back and remember why I started this journey two years ago. Time to kick ass on my terms. No excuses. This is my path and I’ll be damned if I am going to allow a minor set back in this process derail all of the effort I have made thus far.

My point to all of you adult beginners is to remember why you chose ballet or why it chose you. You may all have different goals, but in the end, we all want the same thing – fulfillment. If you are no longer getting the fulfillment from ballet, you need to be proactive and start reevaluating shit. You work way too hard and spend way too much money to compromise in what you set out to receive in this venture. Don’t be afraid to lose a little at first, because in the end, you may find exactly what you are looking for.

Happy dancing people. Happy dancing.

Happy. Happy. Happy.

Waaaahhhhhhh. Injury.

So guess who didn’t injure their hamstring???? This girl!!

I’m sure you are asking yourself, “Why LB, isn’t that a good thing not to have injured yourself?” Well, that’s if I didn’t injure myself. I found out yesterday that what I thought was a chronic injured hamstring is actually….wait for it…..an injured back. That’s right. BACK. Specifically a herniated disc at approximately the L4-5 level, possibly the L3-4 as well. How did I find this out? Let me entertain you. Or educate. Whatever. Someone is going to find this post useful. I just know it.

So, during one of my marathon stretching exercises I thought to myself, “Why in the hell am I so tight in my right hamstring still?! You know what, screw this. I’m going to a masseuse to get this bugger kneaded out…. Yo.” So I made some phone calls. My last phone call was to a good friend, who happens to be a physical therapist and who also happens to work at a chiropractic/physical therapy/orthopedic facility. Nice. Anywho, after hearing my symptoms (I.e. Sharp pain where my hamstring muscle meets my pelvis during a straight leg raising on either side; extremely tight right hamstring; pain in hips when sleeping; pain when sitting or driving) and (more importantly) the duration of my symptoms he came to one conclusion – I injured my low back. Well, naturally, I didn’t want to believe him. I was like, “That’s impossible! I was just stretching when I got the pain! I have no pain in my back whatsoever. It’s all coming from my hamstring. Sorry. You are wrong.” (Said the non-believer. Shun the non-believer. Shunnnnnn.).

I made an appointment and I dared him to prove me wrong….guess who was wrong: The arrogant attorney vs. the experienced physical therapist. Yeah. I was the Loser-Mc-Losertron in that epic battle of wits. How did he know? Well, he did some orthopedic tests. First he pushed on my hamstring ligament. No pain. He said if I injured my hamstring ligament, I would not be able to bear his fingers pressing on it. Secondly, I have no loss of strength in my hamstring. He pushed down on it two different ways and said that, if I was injured, I would not be able to push back. Let alone without pain. In fact, he said I am really strong for a woman my size. [Insert hand to pat the back here.] Then, of course, it was my reaction to when he touched my lower back in a certain area. Yeah. I jumped. There you have it ladies and gents – I have herniated a disc. For those who are unfamiliar, check this link from the Mayo Clinic and read up. Mine is more like a “bulge” then a “herniation”, which means that the contents of the disc are (most likely) not ruptured and are impinging on the spinal nerves. This is a good thing. A herniation that bad is extremely more painful and could lead to surgery. Boo. Surgery.

And for the record – this makes total sense. The General has been on my ass, well about my ass, for as long as this injury has lingered. According to my friend, the reason why my ass is pooching out during class is because the muscles in my lower back are protecting my spine. In fact, the reason why my hamstrings and turn out are not progressing, despite my constant stretching, is because all of the muscles in my lower back and hips are guarding the nerves that are being aggravated!!! Do you know what this means?!?! As soon as I get my spine in check, I should regain and even improve my flexibility even more!!! I am so excited that it’s not my lack of effort that is preventing my progress right now! I can’t help it – my body is just being a total boo-hole! I never thought I would be this excited to discover that I am handi-quacked.

So now what? The good news is that now I know the pain and tightness is not caused by a severe sprain in my hamstring, I can actually start treating the problem. Also, my friend says that my injury isn’t critical and after some treatment I should be right as rain in no time! Too bad I have been so stubborn; I could have been fixed up long ago. What can I say? I’m an “injury” beginner as well as a ballet beginner. I apparently have a high pain tolerance. That’s right. Don’t mess with me. I can take a punch. And a jab. Or maybe even a kick. Well, as long as it is not to my back. That could be bad considering I am a disabled person now. Ha!

As for the treatment, I am currently engaging in DRX (aka spinal stretching. Yup, ga-woss. This is what it looks like), electrical stimulation and massage therapy. According to my bro-seph, I just need to relieve the pressure off my spine and the tightness and pain should go away! Eventually, that is. I plan on going for treatment twice a week for the next three weeks. I am really hoping this will work. I am so tired of being I pain and I’m tired of being behind in class. This just has to be the solution. It just has to!!

What does this teach us? When you are “older” and an injury is taking longer then a couple weeks to heal, you should think about going to see a orthopedic facility for an evaluation. Hell, even a chiropractor will do (disclaimer: a reputable chiropractic facility is what I suggest that actually has a medical doctor that visits the facility to consult patients every week). The point is, even though we may be delusional at times, we are no spring chickens. After the age of 30, yes 30, our body starts doing crazy things. Take care of yourself and listen to what your body tells you. You will be glad you did. I know I am…. Finally. 😊😊😊😊😊😊

Another (Unexpected) Master’s Class

Recently, I received word that there was another master’s class being offered in my area. The class was being taught by Ashley Bouder, soloist for the New York City Ballet Company. Big time stuff. Jessica Wallace, the founder of Ballet in Cleveland, sent me an email asking whether I would like to attend. I feel a little guilty – I didn’t respond right away. I didn’t think I was going to go. While I would like to think I have improved a great deal over the last two years, I am still a mere “novice” compared to the young ladies that attend these master’s classes. I usually end up feeling silly during a couple of the barre exercises and a complete fool during majority of the center combinations. I did not want to derail my confidence by placing myself in a situation where I would end up comparing myself to people that are more experienced and qualified to be taught by someone as prestigious as Ms. Bouder. That’s not fair to myself and I do not need any more “mental” delays.

Ms. Disney had been talking to me about the class. I told her I didn’t really want to go. She kept at it though! So, I thought I would just email Jessica and ask whether it would be ok to sit out during some of the more advanced combinations if I decided to attend. Not to my surprise, she said it would be perfectly acceptable to dance at my own pace. What was surprising was the fact that Jessica actually discussed me and Ms. Disney to Ms. Bouder and wanted to make sure we attended. Ms. Bouder stated that she wanted all levels and ages to enjoy the experience of her class. Well, how in the hell could I say no to that?!

The day came and Ms. Disney and I were very excited. In order to ensure I kept my good spirits, I wore my faux fur coat and red lipstick to class. Yup, I may be oldest ballerina in the class, but I am the most fabulous bitch in the room. Period. Holla. Next question. (Ha!).

Anywho – there were a ton of girls attending the class. I was a little surprised by that – I figured all of the better dancers would be preparing for the Nutcracker. I was wrong, so wrong. Ms. Disney and I took a spot at a bar at the far end of the studio. Little did I know that that decision was probably the worst I could have made. I could not hear, let alone see anything Ms. Bouder was teaching. I swear her voice was on mute the entire time. Because I was at the far end of the giant studio filled with exquisite pre-professional GIRLS, I could barely see Ms. Bouder show the combinations. At one point I even crouched onto the floor to see if I could just catch a glimpse of her feet. Fail. To top it off, the combinations she was doing were crazy difficult. I mean – at one point I just stopped trying. I stood there like a giant goon. Ms. Red-Lipstick-Gooner at your service. Look at me! I do nothing, fabulously. Blech.

Then came center…..center of hell was more like it. The combinations went from hard, to hardest, to non-professional-dancers-need-not-apply. I only tried one of the five that were done. I when I say “try” I mean I fumbled in a corner and tried not to be noticed by anyone, especially Ms. Bouder.

After that (pathetic) display came the pointe combination……..yeah. I wanted to learn the combination so bad. It was just so fast and complex. I just, I just….couldn’t do it. I threw up my arms and said “Enough!” and I (angrily) took off my shoes. As I was leaving I saw Jessica and thanked her for the opportunity she gave me and Ms. Disney. Jessica is so nice, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I felt like a pile of ballerina poop and I just wanted to go home and drown my sorrows in red wine. Besides, it wasn’t her fault. She just wants me to be a part of it. I love that about her and I would never turn any opportunity she bestows upon me.

So – what did I learn about this experience? Well, honestly, nothing. While Ms. Bouder is a phenomenal dancer, her teaching skills were too advanced for this budding ballerina. Ms.
Bouder’s style was very fast paced and more in tune with students who are in actual dance schools and maybe training to be “professionals” in some capacity. And that is clearly not anything close to what my level is. I was so out of my league, I didn’t even do enough to break a sweat….. So pathetic.

So, do I feel bad? No, not really. Like I said before, I feel pretty good about where I am at. In the last couple of years I have have learned so much. I can do so many things. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I am confident enough in myself to know that even though I am not able to learn choreography in millisecond (literally), doesn’t mean I have not accomplished anything. I have received so many emails from people who have felt “inspired” by my accomplishments (you know who you are, wink) and even though they are probably being very kind it still feels good. I started this blog so I could show others that anydream is possible, not matter how big it may seem. I think my blog is actually doing that. That makes me feel good.

So, even though my Bouder experience wasn’t “super”, I think I may have walked away with something. That being – I can take a dance “hit” and keep going; my readers are the bestiest; aaaaaaand I look great in red lipstick and faux fur. Boom. And what. 😊