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Archive for December, 2013

Resolution

A year ago, I made two resolutions for 2013:
1) To maintain balance between work/creative and home/married life, to not neglect one in favor of the other; and
2) To work on getting my ballet technique back.

I didn’t try to tackle both at once (I know that’s a good way to flame out early). At the beginning of the year, I was anticipating a very busy semester between teaching extra classes, competition, rehearsals, and a choreography job. I was afraid I might neglect my husband and/or let our home turn into sty while I was trying to keep all the balls in the air. I know that sounds silly– many women keep balance with WAY crazier schedules than mine– but it was the first time I had a busy dance schedule since I’d gotten married, and I was worried about it. For the first few months of the year, I worked on finding and maintaining that balance.

Then things settled down for a while, and it was time to work on the second resolution. I went about it slowly: first giving myself a simple barre at home each day (not ready to embarass my out-of-shape self in a class just yet), gradually working harder and longer until I felt ready to take class in public again.

In October, I started cleaning my favorite studio in the city in exchange for free classes. Previously, taking class in the city had been a $35-$40 ordeal between the cost of gas and the cost of the class. Now that my classes are free, improving my technique is much more affordable.

I still have a long way to go– I’m not back to the shape I was in when I danced professionally, and I didn’t expect to be at this point (pun not intended). My pirouettes are a mess and my pointe work looks kind of awkward. But I’ve improved, and my resolution for 2014 is to keep improving– with the ultimate goal of dancing onstage, in some capacity, before the year is out.

I also resolve to Get Better About Blogging during the coming year. Two and a half year of spotty posting and zero design are enough, methinks.

2013, you were a great year. It’s been really fun. I’m looking forward to what’s next.

Until next year…

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Greetings from PA!

I flew solo for Christmas again this year. I swallowed my disappointment and choose to feel thankful that my husband is employed and busy with work– two years ago, that wasn’t the case. We still missed him pretty hard, though; me especially.

I had a smooth flight in on Saturday, and enjoyed two days of beautiful weather, shopping, wrapping, and mani-pedis with Mama Butterfly. By “beautiful weather” I mean it was 10-12 degrees warmer here than it was in Houston! It didn’t last long, though, and the “natural order” of weather righted itself by the 24th.

Christmas Eve was our annual family gathering (and my favorite night of the year). My aunt and uncle made a delicious dinner, and we had a lovely time talking, laughing, drinking, playing with dogs, and laughing some more.

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My cousin A1 announced that he and his fiancee just bought a house! They showed us pictures, and it’s adorable. We will have Christmas there next year.

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We also took the annual Christmas picture in front of the tree…I think this year it only took eight tries before we got one with everyone smiling.

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…or not.

My cousin A2 will be coming down to Texas in spring. He’ll only be a few hours from me, so we can visit without resorting to air travel! Yay!

***
Christmas day was lovely. We got up early, had cinnamon rolls and coffee and exchanged gifts. We went to my step-brothers house to have breakfast and visit with his wonderful family, then went to my step-sisters new house to see her family. Afterwards we came back to the farmhouse for a quiet afternoon of relaxing and reading, and Mama and I worked on dinner.

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***
Yesterday after I dropped Mama off at work, I shipped a few things back to Texas then went to the bookstore to find something to read on the flight home. At one point I glanced up and saw snow coming down outside! This was slightly terrifying because I couldn’t tell you the last time I drove in the stuff. I made it home verrrrry carefully, and when I went to take picture of the falling snow it had all but stopped. Of course.

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After Mama finished work we had lunch with my Grandmary and then dinner with a different aunt and cousin. Which brings me today– my last day! I can’t believe how quickly this week flew. Once again I didn’t get to see quite everyone I wanted to see or go everywhere I wanted to go. But I’m thankful for the time I did have here, and all the family members I got to spend time with.

Tonight I’m having dinner with my old friend J, and tommorow morning I’m packing off to the airport. While my visit here was (again) too short, I’m looking forward to being re-united with Craig and celebrating the rest of the holiday with him.

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Happy holidays, everyone!

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Jolly

“Welcome to my Christmas song
I’d like to thank you for the year
So I’m sending you this Christmas card
To say it’s nice to have you here…”

So began the song that my Jazz Ones danced to for their Christmas presentation on the last day of dance. I only had three students for that class (out of four), and all three had older sisters in the Jazz Three class next door; so we had a quiet presentation. We warmed up and presented their dance a few times; then the parents left to watch their older children. I took my girls across the floor for a bit, then for the last five minutes we went into the next room so they could watch the big sisters dance.

My next class was a different story! It’s a big class, so the room was full of dancers, parents, and little siblings. The chairs in the room prevented the door from closing, so noise from the hallway trickled in. The first ten minutes felt a little chaotic! But then the noise died down, the younger siblings got settled in, and the class went well. We did a barre, then I told the story of ‘The Nutcracker’ with props before the girls presented their Russian Dance. It was super cute, and they did a great job!

After I teach my regular classes, I assist with the last 30-45 minutes of Ballet Three (It’s such a large class, they need an extra teacher). They did their presentation on Monday, since their regular teacher would be performing in ‘Nutcracker’ the rest of the week. Their Thursday sub wanted them to present it at least once for the few parents who had come to watch the midweek class (The sub, Miss M, is a sweet lady who always gives a fun and lighthearted class). Only problem was that their regular teacher had taken their music with him; so M suggested we dance the piece while singing the song (it was “O Holy Night.”
So we did. Their was a bit of giggling as we stumbled over some of the words (“something, something, and His gospel is peace”), but we did the dance. Afterwards M made the girls gather around me for picture, and everybody laughed and hugged as Ballet Three finished their last class of the year. It was jovial and fun.

My last class of the night/year was pointe: three students, two parents watching, no presentation because they are beginners and at the barre for most of the class. We had a nice & quiet class; and after I handed out my last candy cane I tossed on a Santa hat, bellowed “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!,” and headed out the door to begin my vacation.

***
Yesterday was a day of shopping, wrapping, and packing (there is still one thing I need to buy, but I couldn’t find it in my neighborhood and my “sleigh” is full anyway). Now I’m sitting in the airport, ready to jingle all the way to Pennsylvania. My flight leaves in 45 minutes, and (Lord willing) I’ll Be Home For Christmas in under six hours.

Have a wonderful weekend! Ho ho ho!

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‘Twas the week before Christmas…

…and it’s Holiday Open House week at the dance studio!

Presentations began on Saturday, and have been going well so far. My littlest ones were adorable, and did a great job for their “audience (and behaved exceptionally well with the grown-ups in the room!).” I was so pleased with how much my Primary class has improved since August. They’re young (5 and 6), but they work very hard!

On Monday after class, the mothers of one of my Creative students told me that I had inspired her to start taking ballet classes. How nice is that! She and her daughter will both be dancing in the recital this spring, which I think is sweet and will be a special memory for them.

I was most proud of my Contemporary class on Monday. They’re a hard-working, motivated group; and they’ve happily taken everything I’ve thrown at them and worked until they got it. They gave a really nice presentation of combinations we’ve worked on, and conducted themselves professionally.
They also showed a very lovely piece– I’d started it at the beginning of the semester just as a combination; but they really loved it and asked if they could do it for Christmas (I really loved the song, so I was game). It turned into a three-and-a half-minute piece (although repetition and manipulation of choreography accounted for a good chunk of that), and it looked *really* nice.

My Ballet Ones always do a little pice from the Nutcracker , to get them familiar with the story and music (last year they did Marzipan and a short version of Flowers). This year one of my classes did Spanish, and the other is doing Russian tonight. The kiddos get excited about dancing something from Nutcracker, and I love to see their enthusiasm for it (my Thursday group really loves that Russian dance!).

I’d write more, but it’s time for me to be on my way– I’ve got to finish up some Christmas shopping, then teach my last dance classes of the year!

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Sad-Sack Tap Shoes

This morning I signed up to sub-teach for someone at another dance studio. It wasn’t until after I learned that they were “combination” ballet/tap classes, and my tap shoes were at my regular studio.

My options were:
A) Just teach in my soft shoes and say “Miss Butterfly doesn’t have her tap shoes today.”
B) Leave early and drive 8 miles out of my way to pick up my tap shoes, or
C) Wear my “retired” pair, which have a gaping hole in the side of one shoe, teeth marks in the other shoe from the night Torgo dragged it out my dance bag and through the apartment, and big patches of “leather” missing from both shoes.

Gas isn’t cheap and I currently drive a huge truck, so B was out. Option A probably would have been completely fine; especially in retrospect (seeing that the little ones who’d forgotten their tap shoes didn’t want to participate in tap; they may have been less reluctant if they saw that the teacher didn’t have tap shoes, either).
But, for reasons only the Lord knows, I went with C. As a result, I discovered that I could not get very good “ball” sound out of the shoe with hole in it, and the heel of the other shoe was slightly loose and didn’t make a great sound, either (although in a class on 2-year-old tappers I’m not sure that matters, thankfully). And in all every class, I fielded the question “Teacher, what happened to your shoe?” (“My kitty tried to eat it.”)

Now I remember why I retired that pair, and sent them to hang on the little patch of wall with the dead pointe shoes. I think from now on, I’ll keep my tap shoes in my dance bag.

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