On Monday night, JMG said to us, “Bring your back with you!” as we launched a waltz terre-a-terre. This clicked right into L’Ancien’s note from a couple Saturdays back, and the combination made for a really lovely run: the kind on which even I caught sight of myself in the mirror and thought, “Okay, this boy looks like a dancer.”
I also found the heck out of my inner thighs during that combination, which had a bunch of soutenus that finished in long sous-sus balances. They just basically cranked on automatically without the glutes overpowering them, which was lovely and yielded a hella steady sous-sus.
Last night, during modern class, I worked on continuing to use my inner thighs in relevés, especially when working in turnout. It’s making my balances quite a bit more stable.
Today we had JMG again, since Killer B is away with some of the kids at the SERBA Festival right now. We had a fairly large, lively class: my favorite kind.
I wasn’t on my A game—I somehow managed to make it out of the house without taking either my nasal decongestant or my Adderall, which should give you a general idea of where my head was (or wasn’t?)—but I was, at any rate, on my B game. I didn’t feel as strong as I did Monday night, but I did feel reasonably strong. I didn’t add beats to anything, but I did throw out an awfully nice saut de chat during the grand allegro.
Regardless, it all felt like progress: like my fitness is finally almost back where it needs to be, especially where endurance is concerned. I feel stronger. My turns were stable and my jumps were light and high (except when I was busy hosing up the second petit allegro because, for some reason, I blanked on the world’s simplest combination: glissade, jeté, glissade, jeté, coupé over to chassée, chassée, chassée-assemblée.
Like, seriously, how do you even get lost in that combo???
- I’ll tell you how: you THINK. I was busy thinking about my arms, and things got weird in legtown, and I failed to change the orientation of my hips on first side/first run, and everything went to Baby Giraffeland for a hot minute.
Some of the gains in fitness and strength almost certainly have something to do with the fact that I finally started hormone replacement therapy three weeks ago, and that’s probably starting to make a difference at this point.
I’m taking a fairly low dose, so it’s not going to result in Superhuman GAINZ!!! (which I don’t want: I am muscly enough, thanks)—the goal is basically just to be pretty much normal, instead of functioning with effectively no sex hormones at all. The upshot, however, is that it should somewhat increase my red blood cell count, which is useful for oxygen transport, which is useful for ballet (and for dance in general).
It will probably also make me a bit stronger, which is also useful for ballet (and for dance in general). I’m not sure how much stronger, though, to be honest: I’m not training for massive gains in strength—gaining strength has never been particularly difficult for me. I intentionally chose a low dose in hopes of avoiding unnecessary hypertrophy. I already put muscle on really easily, which isn’t necessarily helpful in many dance contexts (Pilobolus and its relatives are exceptions: compared with a lot of Piloblus’ guys, I’m a slender little wisp of a boy).
Speaking of Pilobolus, it turns out that my rehearsal and performance schedule this summer means I won’t be able to do most of Pilobolus’ summer intensive after all. I’m planning to go up for teacher training, however, since it’s a single weekend and scheduled when I don’t happen to have any shows.
Speaking of progress, it still really utterly blows my mind that I’m doing all this stuff at this point.
It’s amazing what the combination of focus and opportunity can create.
In May of 2016, I was in the middle of a post-baccalaureate redirect.
Last May, I was involved in my first professional work: just one full-scale show and a piece for PlayThink, but every career has to start somewhere.
This year, I’m doing all kinds of crazy stuff.
To an extent, this happened because I’m focused and dedicated and have a reasonable degree of natural aptitude for dance. Mostly, though, I’ve had amazing opportunities.
Focus doesn’t mean anything if you can’t afford to take class; if you can’t find good teachers who believe in you; if there aren’t any professional gigs to audition for or if your life prevents you from taking jobs if you audition successfully.
I’m blanking on who it was, but not long ago I was listening to a podcast in which a successful actor talked about how she got where she is. She recounted moving to LA (or was it New York? Argh, I’m horrible at this) as a young adult—in short, going where the opportunities in her field were—but offered this extremely-sage advice: “Move to LA, but have a sponsor—someone to pay the phone bill while you’re working your way up.”
- I’m sure I’ve hosed that quote up pretty well. Sorry 😦
Her sponsor was her mom. My husband has been my primary sponsor—but I can’t overlook the fact that Pilobolus gave me a scholarship; that Suspend has offered me a substantial discount from early in my training; that LBS created a flat-rate tuition plan that lets me take every single class in the open division program.
BG has consistently given me feature choreography in our Showcase pieces. Killer B and BW have dusted me off when I’ve come back from auditions with a bruised ego. K and BB have believed in me when I wasn’t yet ready to believe in myself. M bumped me up to Trapeze 3 when I’d only been training for six months or so.
I’m grateful for all of that sponsorship, direct and indirect, tangible and intangible.
There’s another piece of magic involved, there, also: when so many people have invested in you, whether tangibly or intangibly, you feel a responsibility to rise to the level of their belief.
That helps you keep moving forward when things get sticky.
I’m looking forward to seeing where the next year takes me: that, too, will depend on a combination of my own efforts (gotta go hit those auditions, amirite?) and others’ willingness to invest in me.
Impostor Syndrome is less of a problem than it was a year ago. I hope that as I continue to move forward, it will continue to fade. I’m sure I’ll always feel a little bit like an impostor, especially given that I’ve taken a wildly nontraditional path towards a career in dance—and I hope that I’ll never let it really stop me.
I mean, yes, it gets in the way: but it’s like a lot of forces in the universe. Gravity is a jerk, but you ride your bike up big hills anyway, even as your legs insist that you can’t.
Impostor syndrome is a jerk, but you go out and audition and create dances and teach anyway, even as your brain insists that you have no right doing so.