This time last year my dancing was only a shadow of it had been before I quit. It's encouraging to think how far I've come, and how much farther I can still go.
My training didn't come from a world famous ballet school, but I was at the most professional school in southern California. I was enrolled in five ballet classes, all two hours long, one body dynamics class, and one choreography class a week. I was also a part of the junior company. All that dancing put me in good shape, something I took for granted back then. My technique was fairly good and I was reaching the level where they decide who to hire as apprentices for the professional company. The one thing I had over every other person there though was my extension. I could life my leg to my ear with no problem.
Then I slowly started missing class more consistently. I didn't audition for the Nutcracker, and even when they still generously offered me a part I turned it down. What I wouldn't give for that opportunity today. But at that time I was done with ballet. I guess you could say I was burned out.
Everything was let go. My scholarship that made it possible to afford those otherwise expensive classes, my access to good teachers who could get me where I wanted, my technique, my stamina, and yes, my beloved extensions.
When the crazy idea to dance again entered my mind it came with some real discouraging realities. Everything I had accomplished physically was out the window. I could barely get through barre without my legs shaking. I couldn't ask for my scholarship back at my old school, so I had to find classes elsewhere that were affordable but still offered rigorous training for a serious student. My loss of extension was the hardest thing to face of all. The day I did my first developpe after a two year absence was extremely depressing, as I struggled to lift my leg above my hip.
It wasn't always easy coming back and many times I wanted to give up. I'm glad I didn't. I've accomplished so much this past year and a half. In a lot of ways I'm better than before, although I haven't gotten my leg quite as high as it used to go. Still working on that. But there were times when I felt so incapable that I didn't think getting better was possible. I kept telling myself, "If I continue to practice imagine what I'll be like a year from now!"
I no longer have to imagine, as it's been a year now. I still have miles to go, no question. But I'm much better off, and it's good to remember that on those days I feel like a total failure.