Nostalgia and Pointe Shoes

December 10th is a nostalgic day for me…

28 years ago, a ten-year old girl had one of the biggest days of her little life.  It was a day she dreamed of, fantasized about, and held in her heart.  It was the day I was fitted for pointe shoes.

At my studio, Tennessee Festival Ballet, my teacher, Anna-Marie Holmes, with her hair in an elegant bun, navy blue long-sleeved leotard, with a matching navy skirt, announced to the class that we were ready for pointe shoes and to go to the upstairs “closet” to get our shoes.  The “closet” was a huge storage room of pointe shoes and such.  I had only caught glimpses of it before this day watching the company girls get their shoes and supplies. We weren’t allowed in there unless with the teacher.  We all ran up the carpeted stairs and squealed and jumped excitedly for our turn to get our shiny satin pink pointe shoes.   I can still smell the aroma from the closet, like freshly cut wood, and the squish of the thick carpet below my bare feet while I tried on pointe shoes.  I remember my teacher showing us how to use the lamb’s wool to pad our feet and showing the mothers how to properly sew the ribbons and elastics on for each student.

To a ten-year old ballet dancer, this was the biggest day of her life and still is in so many ways.  It was a rite of passage, a changing of the guard, a welcoming into the “club”.  I could not wait to start dancing en pointe.  A week later, with our pointe shoes tied on properly, we spent the last 10 minutes of class doing pointe strengthening exercises.  I am sure it hurt and was harder than I expected but I really don’t remember any of that.  I remember the feeling of height, the curve of my foot, and air whooshing around me with each releve.  This is a memory I hold dear.  I don’t know what became of those pointe shoes, maybe they have retired to some corner of my parents house or lost.  I very much wish I still had them but at least I have the memory of them and what the day meant to that 10-year-old little girl.

December 10th is my pointe shoe “birthday”.  Every year on this day I have always remembered what this day meant to me and still means to me.  What a good memory it is.

I am not certain but I think this could be a polaroid of my first pair of pointe shoes.

I am not certain but I think this could be a polaroid of my first pair of pointe shoes.

Visions of Sugar Plums Dancing in My Head – Part Deux

The conclusion to Sugar Plums Dancing in My Head

I am fired up now.  “Ballet!  Pink tights!  Plies!  I’mma be a bunhead!”  I go to the website for the studio I went to before and they thankfully have daytime adult beginning classes and some open intermediates too.  I soon learn it is the only studio in the area that offers adult daytime classes.  Not that the town I live in is dripping with ballet but we do have some nice studios. I am a mom and a nanny and with the tikes getting out of school soon, day classes over the summer would not be possible.  Evening classes would not either.  My husband’s work schedule fluctuates greatly in the summer and who knows when I could make an evening class.  I don’t want to be stop and start about this new endeavor.  I want to make the commitment.  It looks like I will need to wait until the kiddo’s are back in school.  But that is soooooo far away!  I want to go NOW!

Now, I am a believer of providence.  Things happen for a reason and timing is a part of that too.  I really need to lose weight.  I now have an awesome purpose for losing weight.  I have finally found the motivation I need to lose the weight but I need the time to lose the weight.  This summer delay may not be so bad after all…I could start to lose some poundage over the summer so maybe my wrap skirt will actually wrap all the way around me as opposed to refusing to meet me in the middle like before…(Yep…I’ll leave you with that visual for a moment, take your time.)

Before I know it, I have grabbed a notebook (the one I replaced with my pretty pink one here.) and started brainstorming on how I can dump this weight, get stronger, and be more flexible.  I evaluate the time between now and classes starting in August.  For ease of math, I make it a 20 week goal.  (It is actually two weeks beyond the start of ballet classes.)  At losing 2 lbs a week, that is forty-freaking pounds!  I can totally do this!  Had I decided how much I was going to lose before figuring out how I was going to lose it…well I would have felt like it was not possible.  This really is do-able.  That wrap skirt is SO going to wrap….

If you have made it this far (I hope you have!), you may be wondering, “How did a notebook turn into a blog?”  Because it can, baby!  I love to write. It’s in my soul nestled somewhere close to dance. I wanted something that felt formal and made me accountable to achieve these goals.  I didn’t want some random Facebook post that didn’t mean more than the time it spent at the top of my timeline.  So, I turned to WordPress, tinkered around a bit and had this site, as you see, up and going.  Only you couldn’t see it.  I set it to private.  After debating, I decided the best thing was to share this with others.  I really learned a lot from other bloggers and wanted to give back, per se.  Plus, it felt more real and while it can be hard to put your 195 lbs self out there for others to read about and what-not, it adds to the accountability I need to attain these goals.  Going public was a good decision.  What’s different than when I walk out of my house and other strangers “see” me in a store or walking down the street?  The difference in a blog is they will “see” more of what is going on in my life than the 5 seconds it took to glance and move on.  So I changed the settings to “public” and now here we all sit together before our computers, tablets, and smartphones.

So that’s it…that’s all she wrote folks.  (Well, I will write more, just saying)  Thank you for reading this loooong post and hanging in there with me.  I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received and for that I am deeply grateful.

There is one thing I learned after I finished writing this blog post…even though I had stopped dancing for the past 24 years…the sugar plum fairies never stopped dancing in my head…

Dancing in My Heart

My mom has done it once again.  Sent me an email yesterday that got the tears welling up in the eyes and I had to share this one.  For anyone who has danced or wanted to dance, I know this will speak to you…

“Do you remember the time when there was a dress rehearsal for TFB*  for I think Cinderella or maybe it was Swan Lake…. Anyway there was a little girl who was severely crippled and in a wheel chair.   Her eyes sparkled with joy afterward when I and the other mom-volunteers were helping the exiting kids who had come as a school trip.   I can’t recall the exact circumstances of how she came to express her feelings after attending the ballet but her words have inspired me many times.  Actually I was afraid it might make her feel sad because she could never walk, much less dance.   But when asked how she liked the ballet, she said, ‘Oh it was wonderful.    Now I know how to dance with my heart.”    

I love you!
Mom

That just gets to me…I hope it touches somewhere in your heart too.

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The playbill from the ballet my mom thinks the little girl attended.

Yes, it reads 1983

Yes, I am THAT old…

* (TFB stands for Tennessee Festival Ballet, my original ballet studio where I received my training before it closed and I had to move studios.)

Visions of Sugar Plums Dancing in My Head – Part 1

So, if you have read any of my posts so far, you may be wondering, what in the world started this whole whirlwind of life-changing adjustments in order to return back to ballet?  Here is that answer.  It is a long answer so I will split up into two parts.

I wish I could give you a poetic story at the heart of my inspiration filled with swans, tutu’s, and sugar plum fairies dancing in my head.  The reality is something much more everyday…it was YouTube.  Yep…YouTube…It was one of those days you click on a link to YouTube and one video leads to another to another and the next thing you know it is two hours later and you’re not sure where you are at the moment.

youtubememe

(Yep, that’s pretty much how it went…)

What kicked this whole thing off was this single video I found of a Russian dancer, Elana Pankova, with the Kirov.  It was of her in rehearsal of Don Quixote.  I was totally mesmerized watching her doing these crazy difficult movements with the ease of floating on air.  It brought back memories of me watching the senior company and principal dancers in rehearsals and wishing it was me.  I always found the rehearsals more magical than the performances for some reason.  I was able to witness the actual creation of their art and it was beautiful.  I saw the girls I knew in the halls and sweating it out at the barre transform into their characters.  THAT was the magic for me.

At that moment, a heart string was plucked that I had not heard the tune of in many years. It is a painful one as a part of me has regretted all of my life that I stopped dancing even though I had been badly injured when some idiot hit me with their car while riding my bike.  I had terrible knee pain and the message I kept getting was that dancing was over.  Did I try hard enough? Could I have gotten back to my old self over time?  By that time in my dancing career I was deeply unhappy in the company I was in, and there were not many other choices in my area to move ballet studios, and the injuries gave me a way to bow out gracefully.

So I keep tinkering around on YouTube and I come across this video of a young adult ballet beginner.   I thought it was amazing how she started ballet at 19 and after a few years progressed to being able to go en pointe.  Like a flashing light bulb over my head, it got me thinking.  Is that something I could do again someday?  I did take some classes 2 years ago and the floors didn’t cave in when I jumped.  (Granted anyone I spoke to said how great her studio floors were) I do still have all my gear I bought then…hmmm I wonder…

For the next two or three days I find myself wandering back to YouTube and watching these beautiful and talented dancers and my heart is just aching.  “Wow…what would it feel like to be back on stage or in the studio sweating it out again?”  People my age don’t really do this with any seriousness, we just to do it for the exercise, right?  Well no, thanks to the wonderful blogs I have discovered, I quickly realized many adult beginning dancers take it very seriously. Check them out in the menu bar to the right.

Dance reaches down deep into our hearts and souls and takes root.  It doesn’t have to always be about dancing in a professional company or taking the stage as Odette/Odile.  It’s about striving to dance the best we can dance, pushing our minds and muscles to exhaustion, and being glorified in the moment of it all.  That it is ok to reach for that dream of a personal pursuit that had been long packed away like a child’s long-loved toy doll and only to be allowed to be taken out to admire and then carefully packed away again.  Not this time…no way…no how…It’s time to just go for it.  If I am going to dance, I am going to go all out.  Lose the weight, get back in shape, take weekly classes, and one day be back en pointe.  Like a fellow blogger, Beauty. Grace. Strength said so eloquently, “I can either keep my dream bottled up inside my tiny head, perfect and safe, and die filled with regret.  Or, I can do the hard work and attempt something beautiful and amazing.”

Yep, pretty much.

Stay tuned for part deux!

About Me

I am a life long lover of dancing.  I started dancing at the age of 3 until about 13.  I stopped dancing because I had been hit by a car and my body was never the same again.  I was trained in the Russian style of ballet under the tutelage of Anna-Marie Holmes, a very respected and renown teacher and choreographer.  Unfortunately, her company closed down and when I was 10 or 11 and I had to change companies.  My new company was not the same, and disheartened, I stopped dancing after my accident.

Now fast forward 25 years (yikes!) and I am 38 years old.  My heart is just yearning to get back into the dance studio.  I need to get my body into much better shape and nothing out there is appealing to me.  While drumming around on YouTube one day I came across some ballet videos.  My heart leapt and my mind was saying “yes”!  This is the solution.  Do something you will love and it will get you back on the road to fitness.  Now about two years ago I had taken some ballet classes at a local studio and LOVED it.  I check their schedule and they offer classes for adult beginners during the day.  Yay!

Now that I am at the end of the dance year, I am going to wait to start classes until the new year that starts in the fall.  I know summer classes are available but due to demands of childcare and work schedule the summer would not be feasible for classes.  That being said I need to lose some weight and work on my flexibility to prepare for taking classes.  That is something I can do now until August.  So it has actually worked out for the best.

So my purpose of this blog will be to document my journey back into the world of ballet and to be a means of continued motivation over the summer to keep up my plan to be prepared for classes in August.  I also hope to make some blogging friends along the way.  I have read many blogs of others doing what I am and it has been a source of great inspiration.  I hope to inspire too!

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The above pictures are of me when I was 11 years old doing studio portraits.