Leveling up…

Okay, this is crazy (and no, I don’t want you to call me maybe), but do you [fellow dancers] ever feel like you’ve… I dunno… turned a corner somehow?

I mean, not in regards to anything specific, like accomplishing consistent sextuple pirouettes or finally getting that 180° penchée or something (wouldn’t that be grand?).

More of a general feeling of moving to a new level.

Not something quantifiable, per se. Just a… feeling.

Yeah, okay, I feel like I should be busting out the scarves and dancing nude in the moonlight with that last statement. Forgive me for sounding like a nutter.

It’s just that… towards the end of summer I was starting to feel like things were clicking. Ballet wasn’t quite such a struggle anymore. Not that it’s not a struggle. It’s always a struggle. I remember when I first was in nursing school and then shortly after I got licensed being told that when you STOP feeling scared that you’re going to accidentally kill someone, that’s when you should start to worry. I mean, you need to develop a healthy sense of confidence and competence, but never get over-confident in your skills. I kind of feel it’s the same with ballet. You’ll never learn everything there is to know and you’ll never be stellar at everything so every day you must work. But still… you want to get to the point of feeling like you’ve got something worthy of putting on display even if it’s not perfection.

And I feel like I got another step closer this summer. I didn’t want to read more into myself than what was, potentially, just a good week. I had had one particular teacher most of the summer that I really respond to so I thought maybe I’d gotten really comfortable with her classes.

But we’ve had a two week break and now I’m a week into the regular session in classes with our director again and — in spite of my sore muscles — I still feel like I’ve rounded that corner and I’m in a new place in my dancing.

I doubt anyone else sees this, and you know what, it doesn’t really matter if I’ve actually improved or if it’s just my own perception. Because it feels good. It feels DAMNED good! And it makes going to class all the more fun. That’s worth a lot right there!

I screw up plenty. My brain goes on mini-vacations mid-combination still. I haven’t attained some zen master level of ballet. But I feel less foolish putting my whole self out there. I don’t worry so much about looking like I’m trying too hard. I don’t freak out at pirouettes so much anymore because I know that I can do a clean double. I might not get it at any given moment, but I don’t feel the need to put the brakes on out of fear. Hm.

What to attribute this to? Well, I mentioned the summer teacher. I call her “Killer”, which I mean in the most loving way possible. Her classes are hard as hell and leave you dripping with sweat, gasping for breath, and praying for mercy. And yet I adore her. She gives us a challenge and I find myself pushing to meet it even if my body is not capable of what she asks. Why? I don’t know. It’s not like the other teachers are easy or anything. There’s just something about her style that makes me want to push harder, extend higher, balance longer, etc. We usually only have her as a sub… but this summer she was the regular teacher. I think by having her nearly every class I was able to prove to myself that I can do a lot more than I gave myself credit for previously. So maybe that’s it.

It’s also been over a year and a half since I came back to ballet. I thought I had plateaued some after the initial run of improvement from zero to average. Maybe now that things are stuck in my muscle memory I find myself better able to focus on some of the intricacies that fell to the wayside when I was just trying to be competent at the basics again.

I don’t know what it is. And maybe this feeling will vanish next week. But I hope not, because I really do kinda like it.

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One thought on “Leveling up…

  1. Yes! I know what you mean. It’s a great feeling isn’t it? Hope it stays with you for a while.

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