Progress vs Regress.

24 Jul

I feel so angry, and so frustrated. My physical therapist says I’ve definitely been making progress — my hamstring is getting strong and I’m almost at 90° with my extension (which is just around where I was before with that leg anyway) — and I have been feeling progress here and there. Then I feel it go away, and I have trouble making time for my exercises and stretches, and I get mad at myself for not being able to find the time. My brain becomes this black hole of suckiness and discouragement.

I’ve been going to physical therapy on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Two weeks ago I was able to go to my Wednesday beginner ballet class just to take barre and see how it went, and then this past Friday  I took a full ballet basics class which went pretty well, too. But I also had to miss my PT appointment last Thursdays, and have been busy most of this weekend, so I can feel myself slacking. I’m already panicking that just a few days of slacking may set me back weeks.

Today was the second Don Q workshop at my dance studio (1.5 hour class with barre & learning a variation), and I was thrilled that I could participate this time instead of photographing it as I had done a few weeks ago. I may have cursed myself before class even started, though, because I got so nervous about… well, everything. I’m aware now of what my limitations are with my angry hamstring, but I couldn’t shake this mental fog with the combination and couldn’t find my confidence for dancing in general. I’m having such a hard time reconciling “dance to my limitations” with “back off and play it safe” because the latter usually results in me being afraid to put any effort into my dancing, even just my épaulement. It didn’t help that I was starting to get back into the swing of things when I discovered something that triggered a little unexpected pain in my hamstring. I got so upset with myself, even though I know it’s not my fault and that it’s just part of learning to cope with and work around a rehabilitating muscle. It hurt even when I was just standing still, so I opted to sit out the rest of the class.

It’s hard to tell myself it’s getting better when it’s such a slow process and my progress seems to fluctuate. Even when my hamstring is feeling fine, the knee on my other leg will start to bother me (I’ve dislocated it twice and still have a bit of a muscle imbalance) or my back and hips will ache. My whole body is thrown out of whack to compensate for one measly injury, and sometimes it gets hard for me to believe I’ll be able to dance at my previous level again. I was just getting comfortable in elementary classes, and now I can barely make it through the most basic level class without feeling disappointment.

I kind of hate that this blog has become a place for me to come and whine about something that, in the overall scheme of things, isn’t too dire. I’m lucky I didn’t break an ankle or even dislocate my knee again, or something that could have taken me out of ballet completely for a much longer period of time, but I know that if I’m not careful while my hamstring heals that I could make things worse. I’m just way too impatient.

A Well Choreographed Routine.

14 Jul

I’ve figured out why going without dance these last few weeks was so difficult… it’s because it wasn’t the only part of my routine that suddenly changed. I went from 4-6 classes a week to none, added two physical therapy appointments to each week, and watched my work schedule hit epic levels of turmoil. I never realised how much I had become a creature of habit until I had to change my entire life around. Luckily, it’s only temporary. But I’m trying to learn from this and hoping to become more flexible (not just physically).

The awesome news is that I was able to go to class last night. I was advised to start back by just trying out barre and avoiding anything that involved extending my left leg over 90 degrees. I played it safe, and came out feeling pretty good. And when I got home after, my leg didn’t lock up like it used to! It felt amazing to go back, even just for one class, and tonight my physical therapist said I can keep easing myself back in as long as I’m aware of what not to do with my hamstring. I’m definitely improving, though, little by little!

Of course, I still can’t help contemplating my weekly routine. I was so thrilled going into the summer because my work schedule had changed to allow me to take even more dance classes per week, now my dance schedule and my work schedule are all messed up. But what can you do? I am just happy to be working and now happy to be dancing again, even if it’s not as often as I am used to. I’m starting to feel less out-of-sorts, though still a little stir-crazy sometimes. I just keep telling myself the end result will be worth it, and that I will be back to my normal life in no time.


8 Jul

It’s Friday night. Most of my Friday nights lately have been spent at the dance studio for a double-header (lyrical & ballet basics), but tonight I’m just hanging out at home. I did some baking, some stretching and my physical therapy exercises, and now I’m hanging out on the couch. As of tonight, I haven’t been to class in two weeks, and now I’m not sure when I’ll get the okay to go back.

Last week I was pretty optimistic that I would be able to go back sometime next week. Nothing really gave me cause to believe that would be the case, as I hadn’t even met my physical therapist when I made that declaration. I guess I was just feeling hopeful, and maybe a little impatient. Now I’m worried I might even be out for the rest of the summer, but I’m really hoping that’s not the case. It’s frustrating because I absolutely want to make sure my hamstring is healed and I’m cleared for a healthy return, but it’s just driving me crazy not to be dancing.

Is that reasonable? It’s possible I’m an addict. A ballet addict. I can’t be the only one.

I’ve been telling myself most dance schools take a summer break, and there are certainly many dancers who go this long between classes — so who am I to complain? It’s just strange to me to go from 4-6 classes a week on average… to none.

I’m trying really hard not to get all wallow-y, but I’m in this strange position where I’m trying to figure out what to do with my time in between. Ballet had become my source of socialization during the week, something to do after work, and now I’m going a little stir-crazy just hanging out at home. My first instinct would be to turn to another form of exercise, like yoga or pilates, but I’m not sure those would be wise options just yet. For now, I’m resigned to my PT exercises and some light additional exercise to keep me in shape (especially since I have a dress to fit into next month for a friend’s wedding, ha!)

I think what I’m most afraid of is that I won’t go back. Not because I’ll be told I can’t, but because I’ll move on. Before I came back to ballet, I’d been kind of flighty with my hobbies, never really sticking to one thing for too long. I’d get distracted and lose interest. When I decided to take up ballet again, I wasn’t sure it would last, but it did… and it went from a once-a-week hobby to a lifestyle. What if I change? What if I’m away so long that I’m too afraid to start back again?

It sounds ridiculous to say, because I believe 100% that ballet is in my blood now, but these are the things I think about when I’m sitting at home missing class.

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and only think positive thoughts. Y’all are free to slap me if I don’t.

Hamstrings Are Lame

29 Jun

This whole “injury” thing is kind of balls. Let’s jut get that out there. So I caved and saw the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office (I’ve never even seen my current doctor, because my PCP left and they just switched me to this guy but I’m holding out for a lady doctor… but I digress). When I explained my hamstring issue — heard a pop whilst stretching after class two months ago, felt fine except for a lot of new tightness/soreness, thought I could dance through it, realised I couldn’t — she immediately got this look on her face and I swear I predicted the words about to come out of her mouth.

“If it’s the ballet that aggravates it, you should probably stop…”


And I think she saw how serious I was about not quitting, so she caved and gave me a physical therapy referral. That’s the short version.

So here I am, taking a few weeks off from ballet and awaiting my first PT appointment next Tuesday. I’m a little excited about the appointment, not just because I can’t wait to get back to dancing, but because I’ll be going to a PT facility within walking distance of my office and they have a small dance studio on site to specifically work with rehabilitating dancers. The therapist I’m seeing is a dancer, too. I’m hoping this will allow me not only to rehab my angry hammy, but also to address some of the other little aches and issues I’ve noticed this last year or so.

That’s the Plus Side. The down side is that I don’t know what to do with myself for the next few weeks. It’s so weird to come home from work and not be rushing right back out to class. I suppose it’s nice to be catching up on some rest (and blogging!) but when I’m sitting here with a heated rice sock on the back of my leg, all I can think is, “I want to be at the barre!”

And the weirdest part is that I don’t feel injured in my day-to-day life. Can it even be called an injury, anyway? The whole point of resting my hamstring is to help it get better, and resting it makes it feel better (especially since I’m not actively doing the movements that cause it pain) so it’s hard to remind myself that I need to keep resting it and not just run back to class where I could do more damage.

At least I’m going away for the 4th of July weekend, so that will keep me distracted until my appointment where I’m hoping I’ll get some good news as far as when I can go back to class.

Dancer, Discouraged

26 Jun

Today, I did something I hate doing: I skipped a class, and one of my favourites, too. My little aches and pains were just bothering me too much today. I usually just do my best to power through, working to my current limitations and trying not to push myself, but I knew that if I went to my pointe class I would make it all worse.

But that wasn’t the entire reason I decided to stay home. I needed a good sulk, too. I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged lately with ballet, with dance in general (and with life in general, too, but that’s another blog post entirely). Last Thursday, I celebrated my 100th class at my current dance studio, and it felt wonderful. I was worried I would be let down by it… that my 100th class would feel no different to my very 1st class. It was an Advanced Beginner/Elementary level class, which I’ve been taking in addition to the studio’s Beginner, Basics, and Intro to Pointe classes for a few months now — I love the challenge the Elementary class gives me, because I am still in that awkward not-quite-beginner/not-quite-intermediate stage of my re-introduction to ballet.

Back to the point*, though. My 100th class was amazing. I felt like I had made progress, rather than just doing well enough and not looking helpless and ridiculous, but progress is such a fluctuating thing in dance. Some days it’s there, some days it isn’t. In Friday night’s classes, I found myself split: in Lyrical, I felt helpless until I watched the video of our choreo at the end of class and realised I hadn’t done quite as poorly as I’d thought; in Ballet Basics (taken in my pointe shoes), I tried my best not to let my mood seep into my performance, but it may have done just that. I did as well as I ever do, I guess, which should be well enough, but I walked out of there feeling like something was lacking. I’m too hard on myself, and I expect too much of myself, and get discouraged when I feel like I’m slipping backwards or not moving forward at all when it comes to marking my progress level.

So I took today off, and I sulked a little, and I nursed my aching hamstring, knee, and shoulder. And I worried that these aches and pains will never go away, that they’ll just get worse and my dancing won’t get any better. And I resolved to make an appointment to get a doctor’s advice on the more annoying aches, even though I’m secretly a little terrified of hearing, “You need to stop dancing.”

Because at this point, I’m not sure I ever could. Good or bad, encouraged or discouraged, dance has become so much of my life that I’m not sure how I’d function without it.


*Yes, I had that typed as “Back to the pointe” and didn’t realise it until I was proofing the post. If there were ever an indication that ballet has taken over my life…

Quick Pic.

13 Jun

Quiet blog, loud Twitter. I have a tendency to think (and write) in bursts, and Twitter is suited for such. Until I feel wordy again, here’s a photo.

Free Time. I Wish I Had More.

3 Apr

I got a little spoiled this past week. Between jury duty, temporary changes to my schedule, and the lack of any pressing social obligations, I was able to take a CRAZY number of dance classes. Let me break it down (numbers are duration, not time):


  • 1:15 Tap
  • 1:00 Pointe
  • 1:00 Hatha Yoga


  • 1:15 Beginner Ballet


  • 1:15 Beginner Ballet (done in pointe shoes)


  • 1:15 Elementary Ballet


  • 1:30 Lyrical (my first class… awesome!)
  • 1:00 Ballet Basics (done in pointe shoes)

Sunday (today):

  • 1:00 Hatha Yoga (with lots of amaaaaaaazing hip opener stretches)

I only wish I had the time to go to all of these classes every week! It felt so rewarding to be able to dedicate all that time to dancing, and to be able to take my mind off of work-related stress and social life frustrations. Of course, it also brought me to some realizations about my stamina and endurance. I typically do barre in my pointe shoes during Wednesday night’s beginner class, but this time I succumbed to peer-pressure (some of it self-inflicted, haha) and left them on for the whole class. I discovered when I piqué to arabesque and retiré, I can hold the poses a little longer than I could’ve a few weeks ago (sadly, only with my left leg as the supporting leg… for now). Progress! I love it!

Of course, by Thursday night’s class, I finally started to feel the effects of working and taking classes all week… I was exhausted! But I managed to make myself go to the studio Friday night and I’m glad I did. My first proper lyrical class was fun, but for the first 20 minutes or so I felt utterly out of place. I thought, “There’s no way I can keep up,” but by the end of the class I felt I was coming along. Still not quite keeping up, but getting the hang of it. It’s so strange to be breaking some of the rules ballet holds dear, but it was also fun to find new ways to move and express myself. I am already hoping I can add the class to my regular weekly line-up.

Dream Dancer

26 Mar

I’m sitting here watching Phantom Gourmet, procrastinating just a little on getting motivated (okay, it’s 11am, so what!) and this seemed like a good time to run my mouth off in a blog post.

Anyway, I come before you today to talk about dreams. I’ve been having pretty vivid and interesting dreams all week, ranging from a trip to my family’s cottage in New Hampshire to a Pulp Fiction-esque nocturnal reverie (I blame this week’s episode of Community for that one). Last night, though, I had a lovely ballet dream. These are more and more frequent as my obsession — I mean passion! — grows.

In my dreams, I can developpé à la seconde up to my ear, hold my balance en pointe, hold my arabesque, pirouette (doubles! triples! en pointe!) … in my dreams, I am about 200% more talented and flexible than I am in my waking hours.

The first few times I had dreams such as these, I woke up disappointed with my self and with my limitations. Now I relish in these dreams! They inspire me, they motivate me, they drive me to be the dancer I am in my subconscious. At my age, I may never be that dancer, but the dreams push me to be better than I am now and that push is everything.

I’m stubborn, I’m a perfectionist… sometimes it feels as though I won’t rest until I get something right. Until then, I’ll always have these dreams. If my brain can do it, sooner or later my body will, too. Right?

Ballet Has Taken Over My Life

15 Mar

Sometimes I wonder if my neighbours can see into my kitchen windows. If they can, they may occasionally get a glimpse of me doing ballet in front of my stove. I’m not too worried about them thinking I’m crazy, though, since I’ve gone out drinking once or twice with a few of them. They already know I’m crazy. Problem solved.

It’s become part of my daily routine. Need to get something from the fridge? Arabesque or bourrée across the floor to get there. Have to turn the light off over the stove before bed? Take some time first to practice pirouettes (I’m surprised I haven’t worn a hole in the floor in that spot). Now it’s gotten so bad that I stand in relevé or turn, turn, turn when I’m waiting for my dinner to cook (or heat up in the microwave, if I’m being lazy).

Hell, I even do that last one at work sometimes.

But it all HELPS. I posted back in January that my goal for the New Year was to get over my fear of turning, and I’m pretty sure I have. I still worry about falling — it’s a lot harder to bounce back up at 26 than at 6! — but I have finally found the fun in turns. A few weeks ago, I could barely complete one pirouette successfully, but now I’m finally getting the hang of it… more or less. Tonight I almost “made it a double” starting from sous-sous! It’s so exciting to feel like I’m starting to make progress in ballet, and it’s been an interesting experience to realise that the main thing holding me back from said progress was my own fear of failing.

My only hope now is that I can be half as good in class as I am in my kitchen.

Out-of-body experience.

6 Jan

During barre last night, as we did grand battement, I watched my leg and thought, “Is this my leg? Really??” I mean, it’s not like I have amazing extension, I’m lucky to reach 90 degrees… I think it had more to do with the  fact that I was noticing the overall image of my feet, clad in European pink pointe shoes that were poking out from under my maroon stirrup legwarmers, and wondering when did this happen?! I’m starting to feel like I’m a legitimate dancer (but not necessarily a good one, ha!), even at 25 with no real hope of taking this much further than a hobby/recreational obsession. I’m a dancer, and what’s funny is that I think everyone else who knows me has known this about me since I was a child. I just never believed it, so I gave up. I’m so glad I let dance find me again.

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