Well I took two dance classes on Friday and my hamstrings are still pretty shredded.
This is upsetting because contemporary and hip hop were both hard work but not especially advanced or intense so should be well within the capacity of anyone calling themselves a dancer. They were, except for the fact that I have to modify so much of just the warm up to get through without really injuring myself due to my uncooperative legs. And even though I modified, I still ended up mad hamstring pain. This is in part due to many years of overstretching and reading muscle fibres because I wanted to - to quote an AMDA teacher - 'be a hero'. I unfortunately learned too late that being a hero in dance class - pushing your body beyond its actual physical capacity - actually benefits no-one least of all you. The compulsion is always there, though - to not push beyond limits feels like admitting defeat, and in dance world it's like an unwritten rule that unless you have an actual broken bone level injury you do not stop, unless you want to be known as a whiny little b****. For girls, as with just about everything, it is far worse. This is also an unwritten rule perpetuated by dancers - your teacher won't tell you to carry on if you're in pain (at least I've been lucky to never have a teacher who did).
The two classes I took on Friday were a solid reminder of all that but it's something I haven't had to contemplate for a while because I haven't put myself in a position where it's an issue.
I had to recently explain to someone why I was rejecting an audition they told me about. It was for a dance company called ALMA. I saw their website, I looked at their videos. I was a frustration combination of jealous and humiliated. I had to explain to this person that I would not get into that company because, as I can see from their videos, they want showgirl-type dancers with long legs and perfect hip rotation to allow them to kick high in any direction. A lot of the pieces were done in character heels - literally dance shoes with a 3 inch heel. I've learned the hard way too many times how much my knees hurt after just a few minutes dancing in heels.
I had to explain to this person who has actually known me for five years that I can't do that. They said 'you're telling yourself no, why don't you try it and find out, I think it would be great for you'. While it is important to take leaps of faith it's also important to protect yourself emotionally and physically. If I had gone to that audition I would have been a fish out of water - as much as if I'd gone to an audition for an acrobatic dance company. And if by some miracle I'd been accepted, I would have put my physical well being and safety in jeopardy.
It's hard to convince people that sometimes it's ok to know your limits and protect yourself.
It was a weird moment and something I'm clearly still mulling over, don't quite have the answer yet.
But meanwhile the project I'm rehearsing for, 'The Unseen' is giving me wings. That is a company where I absolutely fit - even better, fit and then expand with them.
So I suppose what's so strange about feeling bad about an audition I'm completely wrong for is that there's no need because I'm quite happy where I am. I think this means that while I am finally starting to learn where I do fit in the dance world (for the first time) it will take a bit longer before I can quite let go of the part of me that wants to be a standard conventional chorus line-y type.