Maybe it’s too soon to say…

I feel like the heartbreak is already starting to settle in. I thought I was prepared for all the possible outcomes, but now I can’t say that I am. It’s been almost a year now that I’ve know that the man I thought fathered me, did not. Honestly, it wasn’t a huge upset, before the DNA results he had little to nothing to do with me. Being abandon and fatherless is something I’d become use to so, finding out he wasn’t the one shouldn’t have hurt so much, but it did, more than I thought it would. A second DNA test to see if another might be the one was fruitless as well, and equally as hurtful. I felt like I was careening toward not just metaphorically being fatherless, but to the idea of that becoming quite literal.

Being fatherless isn’t something very unique, there are millions who don’t know who one of their parents is. I thought I knew though, for 47 years I thought I knew. And even though I had nothing to do with it I felt a sense of responsibility for not knowing. There was no big lie or deception on anyone’s part it was simply a mistake, a lack of knowledge, young people not knowing what they were doing, and what the consequences might be. In this case the consequences were the creation of a human being, me.

Maybe the sense of responsibility came from the abandonment I’d felt my whole life. Almost every significant man in my life had abandon me in some way or another. Either it be physical or emotional it feels the same. When so many come and go you must ask yourself, is it me? Of course, as a grown woman, I know it’s not me, it was them. It was their lack of ability to commit to a little girl who needed a father. And maybe that’s why, when I received the postcard confirming the certified letter I sent the one I’m sure it is came in the mail yesterday, a sense of dread came over me. What if he rejects me too?

What a shock it must have been for him to receive it. Surprise it’s a girl…you didn’t even know you had; with a girl you may not remember. Maybe it’s too soon to say how he’ll respond. The ball is in his court now and all I can do is wait. But I can’t help but feel like the longer I wait the less he wants to know me and that’s a terrifying thought, being truly fatherless is a terrifying thought. To be rejected on a parental level is a special kind of pain that doesn’t go away easily.

But like I said, maybe it’s too soon to say…he needs some time to digest it all and then maybe he’ll pick up the phone. I can only hope!

To Continue with School or Not…

I told myself I would wait until Winter Break to make any decisions about returning to school or not. The first semester was tough, regardless of my age or physical ability, the first semester of getting a dance degree would be and was tough on everyone. As time went on, I realized that my body didn’t want to always cooperate with me and my desired level of activity which caused more stress and anxiety than I anticipated.

The entire semester was very emotional for me on a couple levels. One I wasn’t used to the pace and being a natural born over achiever I think I put more effort into things than was necessary causing undue stress on myself. That feeling that washes over me that makes me think I have to be as perfect as possible at everything I do didn’t do me any favors.

Then there were the health issues that also caused a lot of emotional issues and stress. I jumped into school not even a year post heart transplant which may have been a mistake. With medications changes and my body simply not always wanting to cooperate made getting through some of my classes very difficult. In particular the lessons we were learning in one of my classes deeply triggered my PTSD to the point that I had to medicate for anxiety before the class so I could get through it without loosing it.

Nearly three weeks after the first semester ended, I’m still in pain, my knees specifically. I’m going to have to see and orthopedic during the break to make sure that I didn’t do any irreparable damage to them. I’m hoping that maybe some physical therapy will get them back into shape for next semester if I do decide to continue.

The main thing that I realized this first semester is that I don’t think I need a degree to do what I want. I think I was underestimating my abilities and knowledge in ballet and originally felt that I needed to go back to school as a refresher, for a lack of a better term, so that I could be an affective teacher. But after just one semester I have realized I know more than I was giving myself credit for and that I would more than capable of teaching ballet right now if there was a studio that need a ballet teacher.

I do want to continue to take ballet and I may take Ballet III at Casper College this coming semester. I’d also like to take Improv II so that I can take Composition I & II which I think will help my choreography skills immensely. What I don’t think I need is to take Jazz II, Tap I & II, or Modern II, III, and IV. I’ve toyed with the idea of Modern II but the floor work is what really harms my body the most. I think before I make a final decision I will speak to the instructor and get their take on it.

Regardless of what I decide to do, I won’t be taking 17 credit hours and 9 classes next semester. There is a part of me that says, I got through 1 semester, I proved that I could do it, why go back, and there is another part that says, you don’t need a degree just take the classes that you enjoy the most and will help improve your teaching.

We’ll see, I still have some more thinking to do.

Fermé, Ouvert, and Croisé

Ballet Dictionary
Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant: 1st edition to the 4th edition

These three ballet terms on their own don’t seem so complex, but if you look at them more closely you’ll find that they may not be as simple as they appear.

I’ll start with fermé, which means closed and is a descriptor; it describes what a step is doing. An example would be sissonne fermé. A sissonne is a jump that starts from two feet and lands on one foot. Its most basic translation is 2 to 1. Simple enough, but a sissonne fermé is not a jump that starts with two feet and lands on one, it starts with two feet and lands on two feet; closed.

The next term is ouvert, which means opened and is also a descriptor. It can be used in reference to a position or a step. I had always been taught that ouvert was in reference to the direction you were facing. Whether you’re facing the audience or facing away from the audience, if your legs were open to the direction you were facing it was considered ouvert.

Lastly we have croisé, which means crossed, and more specifically crossed to the direction you’re facing. For example, if you were demonstrating the first Cecchetti body position, croisé devant. With the right foot in front in 5th position you would quarter turn to corner 2 (the corner to the dancer’s left) and tendu the front leg, which is the one closest to the audience. In this position your legs appear crossed.

Often times fermé and ouvert are taught as opposites but in fact they are not. Allow me to explain…

If two things are opposite then they cannot happen at the same time. Here’s a simple example, ouvert sissonne fermé. Imagine the right foot forward in 5th position and the dancer has quarter turned toward corner 1 (the corner to the dancer’s right) and they perform a sissonne fermé, their legs are not crossed to the audience so they would be in an ouvert or opened position.

However, what do appear to be opposites are croisé and ouvert. I know based on their definitions (crossed and open) it wouldn’t seem that they are opposites, but in reference to the position of the legs and the direction of the body they are. Even if you had your back to the audience, with your right foot in front in 5th position, and were quarter turned to corner 4 (corners go counter clockwise corner 1 being to the dancer’s right when facing the audience, the corners are defined in reference to the audience) your legs would be crossed to upstage you’d be in croisé. If you did the same jump I mentioned above you would be doing a croisé sissonne fermé. If you kept your right foot forward and quarter turned to corner 3 and repeated the jump it would be ouvert sissonne fermé because your legs would be open to upstage.

There is more to the sissonne than this…like direction, en avant, en arrière, or de côté, but I’ll leave that out for now so we can ponder fermé, ouvert, and croisé for a moment or two. I think in my own teaching I would teach fermé and croisé as opposites and ouvert on it’s own. Teaching fermé and ouvert as opposites creates confusion that’s not necessary. Of course, the opposite of open is closed, but in this case open is in reference to a body’s directional position and closed is not.

Just a little something to think about!

Précipité

The midterm surprise was “précipité” which is not in the ballet dictionary (Gail Grant) but means “to precipitate.” It looks kind of like a mini glissade and it’s a step that prepares you for another, like a grande jeté. 

I figured it was time to talk about dance class, specifically Ballet! I’ve survived the first eight weeks of college and taking Ballet five days a week with the addition of some other styles.

The other word that got me caught up was “shortened”…I totally blanked! Of course, once I saw the answer I thought, “good one dummy!” The french term for “shortened” is Raccourci and technically not of the Cecchetti Method but of the French School of Ballet; yes there’s a difference.

My Ballet II professor is right, my pedagogy book is going to be huge. I can’t help but be wordy. I figure the more I write the higher chance of either getting partial credit if I’m wrong or extra credit if I’m right. There is a method to my madness.

I think my answer for précipité might get me full credit and not partial, although I didn’t write “to precipitate” I said that it was a step that precipitated another which is exactly what it is. Who knows, I’ll find out next week. Next week I’ll know my grades in all my classes, I’m not going to lie, I’m a little anxious!

The eight Cecchetti Body Positions

Croisé Devant
Quatrieme Devant
Ecarté
Effacé
A la Seconde
Epaulé
Quatrieme Derriere
Croisé Derriere

I need to message my friend that knows the proper key strokes to get the accents on my letters correctly. I know them I just don’t know what key strokes are required. I’ve looked it up a few times and not found the proper way of doing it. Seems like a simple thing to do, but I guess not.

A combo across the floor I use to teach…From the corner, B+ (upstage foot,) balancé x 2, tombé, pas de bourrée, glissade, grande jeté. I was wrong, it’s not a glissade, it’s a précipité!

Overachiever

At some point I have to figure out how to find some time and relax. School is stressful, of course, but the constant worry that I’m going to forget something is taking its toll. I have nine classes totaling 17 credit hours. Yes, you read that right…NINE classes!

  • Ballet I (1 credit)
  • Ballet II (2 credits)
  • Biology (4 credits)
  • English (3 credits)
  • Ensemble I (1 credit)
  • Fundamentals of Theater (3 credits)
  • Improvisation I (1 credit)
  • Jazz I (1 credit)
  • Modern I (1 credit)

I keep telling myself, “just one week at a time,” and so far that has gotten me through the first six weeks of school. But midterms are literally less than two weeks away and I have to admit, I’m a little freaked out. To say I’m a classic overachiever would be a huge understatement. Who I’m trying to impress is beyond me because I’m an adult and I don’t have to do this. I had a career I could go back to if I wanted to so I don’t need to torture myself. Dancing is my joy though, I have to have it in my life in some meaningful way and this is the healthiest way for me to get it back into my life.

There’s a plan, something in the future, a goal for me to attain. NO! I’m not telling you what it is; it’s a secret…Shhhhh!

School is enjoyable, for the most part. Of course, we never like all of our professors, and that’s fine. I’ll only have to have this professor for ten more weeks then we can part ways and I’ll know not to take one of their classes again. This pace is testing my body and what it’s capable of and in classic overachiever style, I get frustrated when it doesn’t want to cooperate with me. I have to remind myself regularly that I’m still healing; it hasn’t been a full year since the heart transplant. The thought of slowing down does enter my mind, weekly, but I can’t. Time is ticking away and I’d like to make the most of it.