Friday, July 1, 2011

A Year of Perseverance

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.

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