It didn't take me long to outgrow the Friday morning ballet class. My teacher suggested I try her studio, which offered more ballet. I gave the Friday night class a try and got a great first impression. It was more advanced, and even gave the option of taking the class on pointe. What seemed like a good fit turned into a short lived experience. I found out the studio was more into contemporary, rather than classical ballet. I had my heart set on one day performing the great classical and romantic ballets of the past. To achieve that I needed to find another studio, and it looked like there weren't many affordable options for what I wanted. I couldn't just turn to the ballet school and ask for my scholarship back. It didn't help that I was nearing my eighteenth birthday, and most serious dance schools in my area don't let adults take the rigours training schedule I wanted.
Meanwhile, I knew that dancing once a week wasn't going to cut it, so I tried practicing at home. I danced in the kitchen to begin with. Although it wasn't great flooring, it was the best in the house for dancing on. People would walk through my already limited space which forced me to stop in the middle of a combination. I never got upset at them, being it was their house too and they should be allowed to walk in the kitchen if they pleased. Rather, it was my pathetic situation that made tears of frustration run down my face. I migrated to the living room because it was close to a CD player, making it possible for me to actually dance to music. There was less traffic that way too. I laid down a little mat that was made smooth for it's original purpose which was to roll office chairs over it. I held on to a portable barre my grandpa made for me. This was a great improvement over my previous scenario, and it felt less miserable.
When I turned eighteen in the middle of summer it was time for me to start thinking about what I would take in college. I was going to a community college, and I thought about majoring in dance. My mom advised me to start out slow and take other classes first to see if I even liked college. That meant I still needed to find a new studio. At the end of August I took my first class at Academy of Performing Arts, or otherwise known as APA. Now I felt like my return to ballet was official. A pianist accompanied us and my teacher was from California Ballet School. I never had him before, but he proved to be an an excellent teacher who pushed me to be better. He is part of the reason I improved a lot sooner than I thought I would.
I liked APA because of the variety of quality teachers and decided to make it my studio. Another plus was that it was geared towards adult who were still serious about dance. In that same area of time I discovered how difficult it is to get classes at college, especially if it's your very first semester. After about two hours of trying to enroll, all I had to show for it was a history class. My mom and I were fed up with the system. Just for the sole purpose of having one more class I picked ballet. I'm not gonna lie. I was thrilled that I could take a college class that involved my passion. I also didn't mind starting out slow instead of rushing headlong into the college experience. I had been home schooled since the second grade, so being in a class room with a teacher was a new thing for me. I was able to take two ballet classes a week on campus for almost no cost and dance at APA. In all, I had four ballet classes a week. It wasn't quite as much as I wanted but I was headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, none of my classes gave me the opportunity to practice pointe, so I was forced to that at home. I know it sounds dangerous but I had two and a half years of pointe at California Ballet and I assumed I knew enough to keep injuries away. I practiced pointe almost everyday, sometimes right after class. I tried to strengthen my feet with a theraband most days, and every night I would wind down with a gentle stretch. I was doing everything I could to try and reach my full potential, but I still felt like I wasn't getting enough guidance.
I have to say that during this entire process I often felt like my efforts were in vain. At times I felt the unfavorable odds of what I was striving for and the way I had to go about it. Naturally I was anxious that I would never find the right dance classes before I stumbled upon APA. I even assumed that my weaknesses happened because I wasn't trying hard enough. Today I see things a little clearer and know that I tried as hard as I could to master everything, but without a teacher it didn't necessarily mean I would get it. It seemed hopeless, but I think I went through it for a reason. I needed to learn to put all my trust in God. I didn't understand what was happening, and I always tried to keep it in my incapable hands. Then I realized that I had to pass it over to God. He knew what he was doing and didn't need my help.
I also had to come to the tough realization that maybe he didn't want me to be a dancer. I tried to understand that his will for me had to be done, not my own. I learned to say, “OK God, if you want me to be a dancer then lead me down the right path and show me all the right turns to make. But if not, that's okay too.” It was difficult, but I had to overcome my selfish desires and learn to trust that God knew best. To this day I still have to remind myself of that. It doesn't come natural but I'm learning all the time. Whenever I try to take it back, he always reminds me to give it to him. It always takes a huge weight off my shoulders.