May 14, 2011

Friday 13th

"You are not doing well because you're having a good day, you're doing well because you pushed through your bad days!"

Just something my teacher said to me today after class. I was feeling quite sorry for myself, having had two bad classes behind me. You know, the kind where you are just trying to keep up, and even that effort is sucking all the energy out of you. After our first pirouettes, it was a sinking feeling right until the end of pointe class. Though, in my defense, I have barely danced this spring. The past 5 weeks, I've managed a total of five ballet classes, plus three hours of pointe which are on the same days as the three advanced technique class I took. Before yesterday, I had been away for two weeks. Easter and work and working away in Germany, and recovering from not sleeping enough while working. Well, no more of that. I am back, starting with three classes per week, and working myself up from there.

Friday has been my favorite ballet class (90 min adv + 60 min pointe) for the past year, and after being away for too much I might have had my expectations a bit too high.. I was just so excited to be back in class that I had forgotten how hard ballet actually is! You can't just take a break and then jump back in as if nothing. No way. The other thing that threw me off, was that Madame is currently unavailable to teach (she should be back for the fall/winter semester). If you have been reading my blog, you know what an impact she has made on me and my dancing. It's not only about the steps and exercises we get to do. It is something about her way of coaching the best out of everyone. It helps that Madame is very encouraging, gives lots of personal attention (so much to correct and improve!) and never gives up on you. This makes me feel both safe and challenged, and happy. I have to admit that I have many insecurities (I suppose I'm not the only one?), and for this class I would have needed the extra TLC as much as the kick in the derrière!

Well, I did not get the proverbial kick, but an actual slap on the butt for "slacking off" the past month. It was a friendly gesture though, administered by my other main teacher G, who came back from her maternity leave early to step in for Madame. G is quite an energetic teacher, pushy and demanding, but mostly in a good way. 

Now I just have to reacquaint myself with G's way of teaching and style of dancing (quick and springy!). It's like when you haven't seen a friend for a long time, and you need to do some catching up to get back on the same page. I'm also going to put in real work to get my feet back under me! And I'm excited about this summer, when there is not just the one great ballet class to look forward to, but three. And number three is a charm, right? I might yet get my groove back. To conclude with a short recap: I had a bad day. I sucked. I will get over it. And hopefully, I will be stronger for it.

Wishing you all the strength, courage and determination to take the lows with the highs and to keep dancing the roller-coaster that is life. Phew. 

For creating a "word cloud" (above blog post) similar to mine, go to


  1. You'll soon get back into it all. Can totally relate to this though. I'm training to be a nurse at the moment and when I'm on placement, dance just has to take a back seat which I absolutely despise. You've just gotta do what you can and don't feel guilty - you're in it for the love of it and you can't ask any more of yourself! :)

  2. Definitely! Life has ups and downs, but we can surprise ourselves by how strong and resilient we are, both mind and body. You can do it!

  3. How right you both are! I have been here before, and I know I just have to ride it out. When I used to take classes 5 times per week, one bad day was not such a big deal. Now that there have been so few classes, things tend to get a bit out of proportion. I expect it to get better within a couple of weeks or so.

    Thank you Jeff and balletbelly for the comments and the support!

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  5. How timely that I read this today. I had an off class last night. I think we all do - sometimes we forget that it takes effort even just to maintain our current skill. But you're back, and that's what counts!

  6. Yeah, Kim, I´m back alright! No place I´d rather be :)

    The same teacher told me that our learning curves go up and down, and plateau.. You might learn something new and significant, and because of it you end up adjusting everything else. So first elation, then back to work where you feel you are dancing two steps back - and then, all of a sudden, you have another great day!

    The "off class" might actually be the crucial class in your learning journey..

    Thanks Kim for your comment!

  7. Well said! I am notoriously hard on myself, and I have to remind myself that it's all part of the learning process. Thanks for the post!

  8. I adore that quote at the top about the good days coming from pushing through bad days...I wrote that one down in my dance journal :) It's so frustrating to have a day where it seems like nothing works right and the brain and body are not communicating...and yeah, being a working adult with other responsibilities gets in the way of taking classes from time to time and it's easy to have some technique and flexibility and strength slip a little while you're away. BUT, as with most athletic pursuits, once you've been at a certain level, it's much easier and quicker to get back.

    I also like what you said in your comment about wavy learning curves and plateaus...I think a lot of learning is like that. You learn a bunch of stuff and it feels like you're going UP, then you have to really process and refine that stuff that you just got a grip on and it feels like the curve flattens out and you're going nowhere while you hammer away at mastery, then there's a bunch of new stuff to learn in a different direction but then down the line that former plateau stuff shows up integrated in something else and you have to add another higher level of skill to it and you hammer away at THAT for a bit...yikes. But once in awhile, you can look back and see how far you've come and it is satisfying! I think we live for those moments :)

    I'll think about this next time I have a bad class and my pirouettes just won't work...LOL!

  9. Kaija.. you write it better than me! And exactly like I feel/see it. Wonder if you are my soul sister, Yeah!

    I have really nothing more to add. Dancing is learning, and learning is.. what you said ;)


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...