Uncategorized

Falling Into Coppelia

I’m going to be seeing The Australian Ballet’s Coppelia in December! 

This is me spinning positive out of a negative.

Yesterday I was getting ready to head into town with the family.

I was standing at our dining table, packing my bag, when I felt my body start falling toward the table. I new I had to get myself safely to the floor, because that’s where my body was headed anyway, and luckily I did.

My daughters saw it happening and made sure I didn’t crack my head into the floor and placed a pillow under my head while they waited for my hubby to come back into the house. They know not to move me on their own unless it’s absolutely necessary, as it’s a bit of a risk that I might fall again.

So I lay on the floor for about 10 minutes and then hubby arrived and helped me to the lounge.

I had hoped that it was going to be a one off for that day and the rest of the day would show improvement but unfortunately it did not.

We went into town, and I had to basically stay reclined in the car for the entire 7 hrs. Every time I tried to stand up or walk I would lose balance and start to fall again.

… so back to the car.

I find these sorts of days beyond frustrating. It always feels like a set back and you never know if this is a new thing that is here to stay or is just temporary. That kind of uncertainty is more emotionally draining than I can describe.

When I got home, having not done ballet all day, my neck was killing me, so I did some port de bras, with my hubby standing by in case I dropped.

Afterwards, I thought about my frustration at my unreliable body and how that plays out with my ballet progress, and how I always feel like I’m losing ballet when I have these set backs or days when standing is just such hard work, and makes ballet even harder work.

And whilst reflecting, I decided to find another way to indulge in ballet, that doesn’t matter so much whether I can stand up or not.

So I looked at all the shows coming up in Australia and bought some cheap seats for Coppelia.

It immediately relieved the disconnected-from-ballet feeling I was having and gave me something to look forward to. Actually, gave me a damn special day to look forward to.  

So, hubby and I will fly down to Sydney and back for the day, and see the daytime show, and it will be lovely.

I’m aware that it will be summer, which means warmer weather, which may mean a degrading of my health. But hubby and I talked about it and decided it would be fine — if we need to hire a wheelchair, we will. It will still be a very special day. I will still love it. 

It will still be a ballet day.

I’m so excited. 

Advertisements
Uncategorized

I Am Master

I am master of myself. Only myself.

I am master of my flaws, beauty, wrinkles, memories, dreams, hopes, fears and disappointments.

I am master of my broken pieces.

I am master of my healing.

I have knowledge, experience, standing and qualifications.

But I am master only of myself.

Dance fiercely…

Zoe xxx

Uncategorized

Hello Old Self, Good To See You Again…

Inch by inch, progress is being made. Actually more like millimetre by millimetre. But the amount really doesn’t matter, it’s progress all the same. 🙂

I’ve been slowly slowly just motioning through this tough as hell physical rehab. [‘motioning’ = going through the motions.] And every now and then I get a tiny little breakthrough that makes me feel like there is hope for progress. 

Most importantly these breakthroughs make me feel more like my old self. 

No, my ‘old self’ wasn’t something special on the dance floor. No, we’re not talking about a prima ballerina in recovery here. 

But fuck titles, I’m a person, a woman, a human being, an adult ballet student — and what I want to achieve is just as important as a prima ballerina.

So, yeah, I want to feel like my old, struggling, flying-to-get-to-ballet-classes, beginner ballet student self. I love that self. And I love when I feel a smidge of it again.

So today, my breakthrough was higher, stronger developpé positions. I had done the rest of my class and then I was doing some gentle developpés. I was about to begin and heard myself ask ‘could I go higher this time?’ and then I heard myself answer simply, ‘do you want to do it?’ A moment of calm and clear came over me and I just went into it, lifted my leg up, pulled up and really held the extended leg with strength. I felt my core engaged and all my working leg muscles engage as well as my standing leg. I broke my first sweat, since being back at ballet, right then in that moment. 

It. Was. Awesome.

How we see ourselves has such a huge impact on how we behave, our actions — which in turn create who we are. 

I want you all to see yourselves as strong, worthy, capable beauties. Because you all are. We all are.

We may be limited in certain ways. We are certainly all flawed. But nothing can stop your beauty from shining through.

Let down your guard. Be okay with yourself. And watch the miracles of self-acceptance start bursting into life.

I’m more than okay with you. I reckon y’all rock!

I’ll leave you with a photo of me resetting my heart rate after doing the fondu.

Be proud of you,

Zoe xxx

Uncategorized

This Time Around

This time round on my ballet journey, I have the power of knowledge alongside me. I am aware of my body’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s funny because, although this time round I have many many more challenges, I am choosing to see those challenges as opportunities to do things the right way for me, and therefor achieve more of my dreams and goals.

Last time, I had hopes and dreams but was continuously failing. I was continuously feeling my body crumble when it didn’t seem like it should.

I was being told my body was perfect for ballet and “should” be able to make all these perfect ballet shapes if I tried hard enough.

I also had a strange fear of movement. I began to get over that fear while I was at the barre — in fact, Iearned to adore the feeling of movement at the barre, and I even started feeling a little more confident with some pirouettes.

But move me away from the barre and I completely froze up.

I remember during my first private class my teacher tried to teach me a very simply pas de bourree with a simple relaxed pirouette on the end.

But it was the strangest thing. It felt like I was learning to walk again. Like everything was foreign to me. Like I didn’t even know my left from my right. Like I didn’t even know my own name anymore.

I used to walk away from centre time feeling so deflated. I didn’t understand why my body felt so weak in the centre and I didn’t feel like it would ever end.

(I do have to add that my in-class teachers were wonderful. They would always say, ‘Just give it a try!’ They could see I was really struggling and didn’t make me feel worse for it. And I am incredibly grateful for that!)

Now, after having experienced such a massive physical breakdown, and doctors finally being forced to pay attention — and that attention leading to the right diagnoses’ and now treatment, has meant that I actually know now why my body was not ‘failing’ but struggling with certain elements and why I felt so awkward doing centre work. Yes, there are actual physiological reasons for it!

So many things make sense to me now.

I remember during my hardest days a few months ago, I would lie there, unable to speak properly, unable to stand up, unable to wash myself, pain searing through my body, and I would try to think of the good things in my life. I found them in my children and my hopes for better times some day. But it was bloody hard to find them. Some days I was too consumed by my suffering to find them and I just wished for the day to end. 

But I never thought I would one day look back at that time and see it as a vital part of my future success.

And that is what it is. (I am not ignorantly suggesting that this is how it is for all chronic illness sufferers. We all have our own journeys.)

There will be many ups and downs ahead. And my daily grind is still a pretty heavy grind.

But now I am armed with knowledge and am moving forward in an achievable way, giving my body all the support and understanding it needs, to get me where I want to go.

And understanding makes ALL the difference. I’m no longer confused. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel more confident that I can achieve my dreams than I have ever felt before — because I have adjusted my dreams and the ways I intend on achieving them.

I may have health issues that are making me see things in this new light, but I think it’s relatable to everyone who may start to feel that pressured feeling about what they’re trying to achieve.

I suggest we all stop comparing ourselves to others and start learning about our own bodies, how we work and don’t work and start working WITH ourselves rather than against ourselves. As that is how I see the greatest growth happening.

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, if you like it… share it! 🙂

IMG_9885

Uncategorized

End The Comparison

I want to say a little something that I keep thinking about.

Ballet, being such a visual-perfection artform, is bound to have a lot of focus on body shapes.

And for ballerinas, at the moment, those qualities are necessary (I hope that changes one day.)

But our beautiful adult ballet community doesn’t need that kind of perception.

Yes, we will all still be wanting to hit the best positions we can, and we want to achieve beautiful ‘ballet lines.’

A lot of people talk about my lovely ballet feet, or my lines. And don’t get me wrong, I will never tire of hearing that my ballet poses look nice (so feel free to keep those coming 😉), but I want to be sure everyone is seeijg this through a healthy perspective.

Let’s also be honest about how those positions and lines come about.

I hit the genetic jackpot regarding those lines and those feet. I lucked out. I then take what I was born with and apply over the top of that what my wonderful teachers teach me, and I end up with the images and lines that you see.

I did NOT always know how to strike a proper fifth in releve, for instance. My teachers could (and still do) place my feet or other body parts in the right positions to show me how it ‘should’ look. Then I practice it over and over.

So being born with my shape, doesn’t mean I easily knew how to create the shapes properly. My teachers will be testament to that. 😉 I’ve had lots of ‘why is your arm doing that weird thing, Zoe?’comments. 

I don’t like placing a lot of focus on striking the perfect pose. And although I thoroughly enjoy Instagram pics, both my own and other dancers’ pics, I worry when I see so much focus being put on getting the perfect positions and flexibility.

I feel it’s helpful to own up to things we were naturally born with and things we have worked really hard to get to. Otherwise I think we set each other up to feel like we’re failing when we see some people doing things, seemingly easily, whilst we struggle immensely with them.

My pointed foot, whilst I work really hard at it, is like 80% just genetics. 

Flexibility, in the other hand is not a strong point for me, mostly. Well, not in the ballet related ways at least.

In the same way, I see women who dance with amazing grace and musicality, that I can only dream about, and I get totally jealous of them. In the past I felt inadequate and as if I would never attain their level of actual dance ability. I’m still not a very good dancer, I still crave being able to move like those dancers, but I don’t think it’s something wrong with me any more. 

Now, I just know that I admire that about those dancers. That I long to be able to do that. That I will work hard to be able to get there.

But I grant myself the permission to acknowledge that I was not born just naturally being able to move gracefully like that. That part takes huge effort for me.

We’re all different. I think it’s best if we love what we do and appreciate how hard we are working to achieve our goals. And stop looking at other people’s photos and belittling ourselves because we don’t match up to it perfectly, or even at all!

You’re all beautiful. Feel it. Be it.

Zoe xxx

  

Uncategorized

Teacher Criticism 

A quick shout out to anyone who might be feeling a little disheartened by criticism their teachers give them.

Your teachers shouldn’t make cheap or nasty comments on your personality. They shouldn’t be mean to you or say degrading things to you.

HOWEVER they cannot help you improve without telling you what you need to improve on. 

Try not to get too upset when you receive criticism. 

Try not to allow yourself to believe that receiving criticism means you suck and should quit ballet and take up table tennis. 

Try not to centralise the criticism and make your whole self-worth based around it. That’s not what your teacher wants you to do with it.

I have been told that my hands were doing weird claw-like things, that I’m not pointing enough, that I’m not trying hard enough, that I’m not pulling up enough and that my frappes need an entire private class to correct and that I am sickling — to which I was all like, What? No way man, I don’t sickle! Alas, I was indeed sickling.

The frappe one always makes me laugh because, honestly, my frappes do always look more like floppes! Haha.

I have been in studios where I receive a lot of corrections and in studios where I receive no corrections and I would, without a doubt, prefer to receive a lot of corrections.

If a teacher is correcting you, they want you to improve.

Don’t get all egotistical and think that you are the most important person in that room to the teacher. If you think you’re more important than anyone else in the room then you will most definitely feel disappointed when the teacher doesn’t treat you as you think is appropriate (doesn’t give you extra attention or compliment you). 

Try to think of teacher criticisms as notes for improvement and try to be grateful that you’re receiving them at all. 

Don’t take it personally. 

Don’t use it as a way to beat yourself up. 

Use it positively. Use it productively. Use it as it is intended — to get better.

Love yourself. Be proud of yourself. Have FUN!

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, you deserve to be in the room.

Today, after having FUN during ballet. 🙂
Uncategorized

When You Can't Be A Ballerina

A common grief among adult ballet dancers is the loss of ever being able to be a ballerina — of ever being able to truly live the life of a ballerina, the whole 24/7 package.

I’m sure there are many parts of that lifestyle that we don’t fully understand. I’m sure all the blisters, injuries, pain, pressure and rejection are things we cannot fully wrap our tantalised minds around. But the great sense of injustice at finding ballet so late in our lives, that many of us feel, usually overshadows those real-life ballerina issues. Most of the time.

So then, what do you do, how do you fill the ballerina gap, when you can’t be a ballerina?

Well, you can start by celebrating the fact that you don’t have all that pressure on you. You don’t HAVE to keep dancing on that injury or risk losing your employment. You don’t HAVE to do anything in ballet.

For adult ballet dancers, it is all about what we WANT to do.

Sure, sometimes (often) in class our teachers might make us feel that we should be focusing on a million things that feel impossible, but that’s only what the teacher wants — again, we don’t HAVE to do anything we don’t WANT to do.

So, we can set our sights on almost anything! 

Triple pirouettes

Jetes

Stronger feet

Feeling the music

Feeling like a ballerina

Laughing with friends

Fondues

Port de bras

Anything. ANYthing! ANY THING! 

(Well, aside from the pro-ballerina thing)

Remember to believe in yourself. 

You are allowed to set goals, dream and achieve. 

You are allowed to want more. 

You are allowed to strive for the best you can be.

You are allowed to strike a fabulous ballet pose, and feel as proud of yourself as if you were that professional ballerina that you feel is inside you. 

Tiny tots starting their first ballet class, girls graduating senior ballet, boys navigating a seemingly feminine world of ballet, professional ballerinas, adult beginner ballet students, ballet teachers, advanced adult ballet students and audiences who love watching ballets on stage — we’re all part of the same thing. We’re all part of ballet.

So what can you do when you can’t be a pro ballerina?

Whatever the fuck else you can imagine. Whatever else you can dream up.

Go forth and conquer the moment. Your moment. 

Enjoy it. Revel in it. Own it.

And always remember…

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx