Almost ready to put the colouring in book together! Yay! Very, very excited!
Decided to share a little something different today. I love thinking back over outrageously funny moments in my life — or even just outrageous moment.
(This is a post I pulled from an old blog of mine, because I can’t currently draw, or do much of anything actually, due to overdoing it d creating a pain flare.) So if you’ve read it before, you should read it again for the giggles! Ha 🙂
I once went on a date with a guy called Bob, who decided to surprise me at the end of the night by telling me that he would be rowing me home in a rowboat, rather than driving in a car.
Backstory: he was my boyfriend and was a sweet boy who I think was trying desperately to be romantic.
We lived next door to each other, and also lived in beachfront houses, not too far across the wide open ocean, once you got out of this bay. So theoretically the whole rowing home thing could have worked. Bob could have literally rowed us up onto the shore in front of our houses. Apparently people had done this successfully before but I wasn’t really a boat person, and was mildly terrified of being attacked by a shark, so I had my reservations.
After coming to terms with the fact that this wasn’t a joke and that the only way home was across the ocean in a rowboat. I convinced myself that there was some kind of speckled patterned romance in this scenario. I got my spontaneous on. And I rolled with it.
It was about 11pm by the time we got going.
At first it was indeed almost romantic, with the quiet night surrounding us, the sound of soft water lapping at the sides of the boat and our conversation ebbing and flowing with ease.
Most of that ease was, of course, due to the fact that we were only moving through the still waters of the bay between the two headlands. We weren’t yet in the open ocean, you know, with waves and stuff.
I remember it taking a lot longer than Bob had anticipated, to row to the end of the bay. I remember watching the houses as we passed them, some with lights still on, some with lights off. Bob and I creating stories about what was happening in each house.
And then, I remember, as I became colder and colder and the rocking of the rowboat became rougher as we neared the end of the bay, looking at the houses with more of a longing for the warmth and soft beds I was imagining.
Did I mention that I’m not much of a boat person?
As nature would have it, the wind really picked up that night. By the time we reached the end of the bay and were trying to push our way out into the ocean, we were not even at a stand still, we were actually floating backwards, back into the bay.
It took Bob a fair while longer than I, to realise that his heroic efforts to row harder into the incoming ocean swell were beyond futile.
At one point, I remember being so cold, with the waves now washing into the boat, and disorientated by the pitch blackness, that I wasn’t even that concerned about sharks anymore. It seemed it would be easy enough for a small shark to just float right in on the back of one of the waves, but it didn’t really bother me now.
I figured we were going down anyway. What did it matter if it were by drowning or bleeding to death from shark bite?
In hindsight, that was probably the disorientation talking.
By the time Bob finally admitted defeat, I was soaked through, exhausted, freezing cold, had absolutely no idea where we were and wasn’t sure whether I had a migraine or an aneurism coming on, but was starting to favour the aneurism as I felt I just needed this night to end and if it had to be by death then, at this point, so be it.
We managed to get the boat to some rocks in front of a waterfront property.
Where we BOTH had to drag the boat up over the rocks and carry it to a safe place for the night.
I felt like I was in some kind of bizarre b grade noir/horror movie. The two of us, soaking wet, hoisting the rowboat above our heads and carrying it to safety. I was just waiting for some monster to jump out of the bushes. Which was making the shark attack and/or aneurism look more and more appealing.
Not to mention the moderate case of what-the-fuck’s I had going on in my head as we hauled the bloody boat to a safer place.
A safer place? For the fucking BOAT?
Oh yeah, sure, we’ll get that bleed in my brain sorted out in a minute but first let’s make sure the fucking boat – which, let’s face it, should have been a car – has a safe place for the night.
Apparently we were hoping the boat wouldn’t get damaged overnight. Well, I can say with certainty that not all of us were hoping for the same thing.
The night ended with us calling Bob’s mother to come and get us. Me getting a migraine rather than an aneurism (thankfully) but it being one of those glamorous migraine with vomiting — so the 45 minute drive home was a hoot.
That night was one of the worst ends to a date I’ve ever had. But I do remember watching, with fondness, the ambition of Bob as he tried so desperately to make something unique and special happen.
His desire to create a wonderful memory for us both, whilst a tremendous failure, was also incredibly endearing. There’s a certain kind of romance in this type of epic failure that makes my memory of that date a happy memory.
That quality of optimism despite all the odds being stacked against us, that is very romantic.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t relive it even if my life depended on it, but it was romantic all the same.
Thanks, Bob. Thanks for trying. And for a date gone so terribly wrong that in the world of my memory, twenty-ish years later, I actually see the romance in it. Sorry I couldn’t see it on the night 😉
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.
P.S remember, if you like it… share it! 🙂
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!
P.S remember, you deserve to be in the room.
I have never sweated so much as when I used to do ballet classes, before the break.
I had actually never really experienced sweat like that before. I remember at my Sydney studio, where the class standards are super high, I would have beads of sweat dripping from my wrist to the floor towards the end of the first plié combination. It was the first time I had ever seen people take sweat towels into a dance studio.
I loved that.
For me, apart from the burning muscles, the sweat was the most immediate concrete evidence of how hard my body was working.
I really, really, loved that.
Then once I had some recorded private classes to learn from at home, I started, and continued, to work up that fabulous drenching sweat during my home classes too.
I posted many a sweaty post-ballet photo on Instagram.
As someone who had never been good at ANY athletic activity, I was wearing that sweat loud and proud!
And I’m delighted to say that I have started getting my sweat back. Which is telling me that I’m able to work my body harder and harder.
This is exciting stuff for me right now.
Today, I wasn’t able to do anything else apart from my ballet and exercise bike/physio, as I’m very wiped out from a few big days, BUT I’m sweating y’all!
And… I. LOVE. IT. 🙂
In fact, today I managed a warm-up tendu exercise, a full plié combo left and right AND just a little bit of extra foot work.
With the addition of the bike straight afterwards, I was drenched in sweat!
So, here’s to sweating it out!
As we approached and entered the venue, I nervously clutched my clipboard, upon which were the names of all the people involved in making this moment possible.
I felt sure that someone was going to stop me and gently inform me that this was all a big confusing mistake and I am not actually allowed in to watch the dancers in their pre-show class on stage.
I had my reply all worked out and running on repeat round and round in my head, for when they tried to tell me the dream was over.
So it was a pleasant surprise when we entered and asked for Hans, the production manager, and the woman behind the desk simply got up and walked us up some stairs all nonchalantly.
She asked us to wait outside the auditorium while she went to find Hans.
We waited. I ran more thoughts through my head about how ridiculous this whole idea was. And how Hans was sure to laugh at my bizarre request.
So I was even more surprised when a bubbly Hans walked out of the auditorium towards me, shook my hand and said: “Zoe! Ali told me you’d be coming today. So you want to come and watch class? Come on in.” And then continued to guide hubby and I through to the auditorium.
What? Just like that… I’m in? Seems to easy.
SPOILER ALERT: Nothing bad happened. No nets. No traps. No quicksand. Just a lovely afternoon stargazing at amazing dancers.
As we walked, Hans chatted calmly about menial (to him) things like what time the production crew had arrived and what time the dancers had arrived. When we finally got within view of the stage he chuckled and commented about how tiny the stage here was. And that this meant that they had to rearrange parts of the show so that they could fit on the stage.
I was pretty amazed by how difficult it would be for the dancers and choreographers to adjust their whole show in such a short amount of time — and then remember those adjustments the whole night long.
I asked Hans: “So the dancers have to learn all those changes between now and tonight’s show?” And Hans replied, with a smile: “Yeah. But they’re good at it.” The reply came with an air of intense confidence and struck a chord within me. A chord that was to remain poignant throughout the rest of the day and night.
Hubby and I found ourselves a seat in the auditorium. As there were no other spectators, I wanted to find a seat out of the way, where I wouldn’t feel so noticeable. But that just wasn’t going to happen. The lights were shining brightly down on all the seats — there was no safe zone. I just had to sit and enjoy.
Enjoyment didn’t take long.
As soon as I sat down my eyes were glued to the stage. Glancing off only occasionally to observe other crew members and ponder what their role might be.
The barres were set for class, the dancers lay about on the floor stretching every inch of their bodies while their conversational chatter bubbled away.
As the teacher started verbally running through the first combination, I was surprised to see that several of the dancers took their places at the barre to begin, while others continued to stretch a while longer before joining in. This casual approach, joining in when they felt ready/warm enough, wasn’t what I was expecting. Yes, clearly I am a novice to the pro-ballet world!
It wasn’t long before I had that magical moment that I have heard other dance students talk about. The moment when the language of ballet crosses the boundaries of all other languages.
I was listening to this thick Russian dialect being spoken on stage, when I realised I was understanding what was being said. This felt a little weird at first, and I was all like… wait, I don’t know Russian! But then I realised…
When the teacher was telling the dancers what exercises to do, he wasn’t speaking Russian, he was speaking ballet!
Amazing!! That was seriously amazing to experience. Absolutely loved that moment.
So the class got underway. My next surprise was the gorgeous laid back music they were dancing to. It almost sounded bluesy. Didn’t really sound like any classical ballet class music I had heard. And I LOVED it. It was extremely relaxing and mixed well with the continued, albeit quieter, chatter that bounced around the stage. The beginning of this class looked exactly like “warming up” should look in my mind.
[Sometimes I feel like the immediate rigidity that comes over me when I enter the classroom creates tension in both my body and mind, which works against the warming up process that is supposed to be unlocking ourselves to become looser and more pliable.]
The class picked up in intensity and the warmer the dancers got, the less they chatted until by the end of barre work, apart from the occasional comment or joke thrown in from the teacher (yes, he actually joked and laughed), they were pretty much silent as they concentrated on pushing the boundaries of their bodies.
They did an entire class including barre and centre work.
It was surreal to watch such incredible dancers move their bodies, in real life, right in front of me. As an adult beginner, it was awe inspiring and really special. I felt like I had stepped into a sacred ceremony. So beautiful.
Once centre work was finished it was time for them to work on rehearsals and adjust to this tiny stage they would be dancing on tonight.
It was time for us to leave at this point. So I breathed in this magical scene one last time and hubby and I went off for some dinner.
But it wasn’t long before we were back at Lismore City Hall for the show.
And they didn’t disappoint.
At this point I come back around to that incredible adaptability that this company has to have. These performers had arrived in town that afternoon and within 3 hours they had warmed up, done class, worked on their adjustments to the tiny stage they were on, done make-up and costumes and were ready to perform.
And let’s not fairy-tale it, these guys wouldn’t all be injury free and without health issues, but they just push on. It must be completely grueling, but the show literally must go on.
I kept thinking about this through the evening as I watched them all create magic on the stage. Their level of professionalism is astounding.
And it was magical. They are gorgeous dancers and they filled the auditorium with wonder and awe.
This show is awesome. Beautiful, stunning and whimsical. And as all ballets I have ever seen, it seemed to end too soon.
I would like to thank Moscow Ballet La Classique for allowing me to come along to the pre-show class and for bringing their ballet to our region. You are brilliant. I love you!
I would also like to thank Grand International Concerts, in particular Ali, for helping me gain access to the pre-show class, and NORPA and Lismore City Hall for their contributions in bringing ballet to our region.
When all these organisations come together, you get the blessing of ballet reaching people who ordinarily might never be able to see it.
This is always an amazing thing.
Sometimes it is a life-changing thing.
To see more about these organisations, you can follow the links below…
Dear new dance parents,
So a new year has started, bringing with it fresh excitement and possibilities.
If your child is beginning dance classes this year then chances are you are up to your eyeballs in new dance shoes, leotards, bun-makers and a myriad of other dance paraphernalia (depending on the style of dance your little one is doing.)
Sometimes it can be easy to get swept up in all the excitement and forget about your child’s long-term physical and emotional experience within dance.
Today they are at the beginning of their dance journey. One day they will be at the end of it.
Obviously, dance can be a stressful and highly competitive world and I’d like to see more girls and boys reaching the end of their dance training feeling positive and proud, remembering dance as something that made them feel good about themselves, rather than feeling inadequate and riddled with bodily comparisons.
How you as a parent approach your child’s dance experience from the early years onwards can have a big impact on this. So let’s set them up, as best we can, to feel good about their dancing. Let’s start with a good, healthy dose of dance for fun, love and expression.
Some of my suggestions are:
Firstly, try to choose a studio who values the love of the art over perfection. Many wonderful dance schools out there do a fabulous job of promoting personal growth in their students, discouraging classroom comparisons and encouraging the love of the art, musicality, and expression without compromising on correct technique. Those are the schools for your little darlings. You can usually get a feel for the values of a school by sitting in on a class.
Be careful with how you talk about dance. Choose your words well. Avoid using the “P” word. Saying something is “perfect” puts a huge amount of pressure on a child. Let’s face it, there’s really nowhere to go but down if you get told you’re already perfect and aiming for perfection at such a young age is fairly nauseating. So yeah, let’s just leave the “P” word out of it.
Focus on their enjoyment of dance more than their ability. You don’t need to tell them they need to focus on getting better. If they love dance, they will continue to dance and, with their teacher’s guidance, will naturally progress to be the best they can possibly be.
After class, ask them holistic questions about how the class was:
“Did you have fun?”
“What was your favourite part?”
“Was the music pretty/awesome/fun?”
“How did the music feel?”
“Would you like to show me anything you learned?”
Then at home, if they do want to show you something they learned, be engaged about it. Make yourself a cuppa and settle in to adore this mini-performance with all your heart. Show them you love it. Don’t talk about mistakes. Even ask them to teach you what they learned. Have fun with it.
If they see you having fun with it, then guess what they are going to to? Yep! They’re going to have fun with it too.
Finally, if your darling should make mistakes whether they are in class or on stage this year (or any year), hold them tight and tell them they are brave for trying and continuing. Tell them this moment will pass and you are very proud of them for all they have done and are doing.
Okay mums and dads, welcome to the world of dance-parents. May the bobby pins be with you.