It’s insane that 2018 is already gone. Some of my friends might argue that the year has dragged on, but some will also agree with me that it flew on by. I absolutely fell in love with 2018.
It feels like just yesterday I was in 2017 saying, “This is the year of dreams come true.” That was my prediction and for me and for several friends of mine, this was to be the case.
I was a nervous wreck getting ready for YAGP. I was terrified of winning. That sounds really odd, but I was. I was terrified of being either not enough or being enough. It sounds silly, but in training I remember specifically Mr. Jose saying to me, “You train to win! You don’t train for an experience. If you want an experience, sit in the audience.” He was right, but I was afraid. My dream had been to go to YAGP ever since the documentary First Position came out. I think I was about 12. It terrified me to want that for myself because I felt I didn’t deserve it.
I went on January 27th to Huntington Beach and prepared to make my debut as Aurora from Marius Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty. With Mr. Pegler’s words, Mr. Jose backstage with me, and Ms. Jana beside me at all times wearing the work of her wonderful hard-working mother Cathy, I felt like the wave of nerves and anxiety was enough to bear when shared between the three of us. With big brother & sister, niece, younger brother & sister, mom & dad, Halmuni (Grandma on father’s side), Grammy & Grandpa, Aunt & cousins & my best friend in the audience, I felt like I could do it. In the wings, I was a nervous wreck. My heart was beating at a thousand miles and hour. There was a teacher from Hawaii coaching his girls. He looked at me and smiled and asked if I’d like to join his girls in their performance “ritual.” I did, and it eased my nerves a ton.
He said to me, “As you walk on stage, command the room. You’re going to be amazing. Don’t try to be anything, just go for it. And merde.”
I took his words to heart. As I walked on stage with elegance and grace, I could hear whispers amongst those standing backstage. I heard him say, “Wow, she’s going to be amazing.”
I danced. I remember letting go of the steps and focusing my energy on portraying the happiness of getting married. Act III Aurora is elegant, still girly, but has a more regal appearance and expression to her guests. Of course, I stumbled, but I let it roll off my shoulders like water drips off the fingertips. I fell in love with what I was doing for two minutes and thirty seconds. I felt like happiness that was true. And when I took my bow, I felt that I did the best job I could.
Awards ceremony came. I didn’t place, but I didn’t expect to. I didn’t work for that. I didn’t put myself in the mindset for that. But something I was proud of was my score. When I received the teacher’s notes, I knew exactly what I needed to work on and what I needed to focus on in the next year. My score was an 88, just six points off from making it into the finals.
Something told me as I left the awards ceremony that I could make it next year.
Preparing to take my Advanced II exam for a second time. I was being attacked in my mind with the thoughts of, “You failed last time; you’ll never measure up to get what you’ve dreamed of.”
You can ask Mr. Pegler, I was this close to quitting. I one day even told him straight out, “I don’t know why I’m even dancing anymore. I don’t even want to be here right now.” He looked at me with a smile, patted my shoulder gently and said, “Then dance for a different reason.” He took me through a season I thought I would never get out of, with all the anxiety, depression, fear, and torment, he was a huge part of the reason I am still dancing today. It was because of this time that our friendship/mentorship partnership grew stronger.
I also went to my first ballet company audition for Kansas City Ballet. It was the worst experience of my life. I was sick and bedridden the week of, and yet I still managed to get my feverish, aching, sick body onto a plane and make it to Houston Texas, where the audition took place. It was probably the worst I’d every danced in my life, a true embarrassment. But who cares? How many years before that had I been dreaming of auditioning for a ballet company?
March 4th. May the fourth be with me.
The day before this exam day I had private coaching with Mr. Pegler. It was also the day I finally had nailed my ten fouette turns with a double inning & outing. You can believe the high I felt after that and the urge to do it again the next day.
I’ve had this examiner before. Mr. Clifford I’ve been playing with for many years. I was in good hands. I remember almost nothing from that exam, except for the fact that my adage routine was good, I didn’t fall from my pirouettes, and I nailed my ten fouette turns with a double inning and outing. I remember nearly crying in my variation because I was performing it from my heart. I loved interacting with the examiner and the pianist during this dance. It’s by far one of my favorite romantic dances I’ve ever done.
May 3rd. I fell and rushed to the chiropractor. My back was in level 8 pain. My sacrum was in such pain I was so afraid I’d just given myself a hairline fracture.
Thank you to my incredible Dr. Barry, who gave me a quick ultrasound and free X-rays. He looked at me, made adjustments, and told me what to do to take care of myself. I was out of dance for two weeks, still co-directing the ballet I was supposed to finish out with: Cinderella.
Just two weeks after my fall, I performed Sleeping Beauty once again on the outdoor stage under the sunset. I performed my exam variation once again until a starlit sky. It was one of the most enjoyable outdoor performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking part in. I had the chance to co-direct a ballet and I saw it come together. Our entire RDA team was incredible and made the production smooth sailing, and the RDA Cast did a fabulous job. I couldn’t have been prouder.
How is it possible that I just graduated high school? I remember this one moment when I was 12 and crying at the table when my mom made me write an essay about dinosaurs. That 12-year-old little baby actually thought she would never make it through school, but here I was. Navy blue cap and gown, ready to graduate Shiloh Academy. My whole family was here. My friends were there. My church family was there. My best friend of three years was there. It was the most unorthodox graduation you could’ve ever experienced in your life. And the video messages from all the mentors I’ve had in my life, that meant the world to me. The kind words of my dearest friend AJ meant the world to me. I remember screaming out his name and crying my eyes out when that video played.
Thanks Mom, Dad, Eric, and Jess for giving me the best graduation in the entire world.
I turned 18! How’s that possible? I’ve been dreaming of becoming an adult since I was three. I mean, I thought I was an adult at 3. But this time I am actually an adult. I don’t know how this happened. I then had my first ever business presentation I gave on my own. That was real for me, launching my business and realizing I am now responsible for myself and a team of people that I bring on. I couldn’t believe that exhilaration. Then I went on my first date. It was the best possible first date I could’ve had. He is still in my life. I still love him. He’s still one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.
First vacation in 17 years. Hawaii was magical, beautiful, wonderful, peaceful, and I didn’t want to leave. Two weeks of doing absolutely nothing was the best thing I could’ve asked for. It was amazing. There was something so special about bonding with my family and having true relaxation time. There was something so wonderful about being able to look outside and have this overwhelming thankfulness and be in awe and wonder of the beautiful creation. And it was insane when we prayed against the hurricane and it passed. We got to see God move in a miracle. Hawaii was nothing short of perfect.
The new season of LIFE ON POINTE began. The new season of ballet began for it’s 12th year. Two of my businesses were up and running. I was hitting the ground running. It was a new time, a new season, and new era. Starting with American Ballet Theatre Studio Company work was intense and still is, but it was the push I needed to make me better and stronger.
October - December 2018:
My second little niece was born. She is perfect, still the most adorable little baby I’ve ever seen. I say that about both my nieces, Zoey who’s now two and growing fast, and baby Teya who is the sweetest little baby. She was the highlight of October. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people. I got to spend time with my friends, my LIFE ON POINTE Team and actually build it out, I got to spend time with my family, and I had a opportunity to spend time with Mr. Pegler in his town of Carmel and meet his mother, Ms. Burhnam and take class with their beautiful students.
So now, Christmas is coming. New Years is coming. 2019 is going to be a year of facing our fears. I feel specifically for myself that in 2019 I will be facing my giants. I’m determined to defeat them and stake my land. To all of you who spend so much time watching my videos, interacting with my social media, and reading my blogposts and listening to the podcast, thank you. Thank you so very much for all that you do to make LIFE ON POINTE something. I am so excited to share with you all the things me and my team have been working so hard on since the summertime. Watch out 2019, I’m coming like a force of nature.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, & Happy New Year!