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can't take it all in from the sidelines

Striving for Grace

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Well, I'm out of ballet for at least 3 weeks with an injury. My second hugely dissappointing injury this year. Something wasn't "right" about my ankle on the weekend, so this morning I went back to the docs and got re-x-rayed and apparently my ankle joint was slightly out of alignment (ie. there was a minor dislocation of 3mm that they initially missed), and after popping it back into place (the grossest feeling and sound! :innocent: ) they told me that I had some damage to the deltoid lig (I thought it was a lateral sprain)because of the dislocation... they assume that when I rolled it, I overcorrected to try and avoid falling, and the ankle slid past it's normal range of motion on the inside as well.


ANYWAYS! During class time I'm supposed to come to class as usual and watch and take notes. I went to my variations class this morning and the barre and centerwork was typical, but it is a variations class and the combinations that we're learning are often long, complicated, and involve many changes of speed and direction and character subtleties (I never did character ballet). Many of you will know by know that I've only been dancing for a year now, as well. So stuff that others have been doing for years I often have never even seen before.


I feel like I can't take it all in from the sidelines. I need to be out there dancing, doing in order to memorize the combinations. At the end of class I looked down at my notebook to see that there were way more question marks and blanks than I'm comfortable with... I felt like crying and my face probably showed it, because my teacher asked me several times if my ankle was hurting a lot, which it was, but that's not why I was disheartened.


I'm so ashamed and I feel like I just don't "get" what we're learning in class because I physically can't do it right now. In late Oct. we have performances and I don't think I'll be able to have my sequences memorized... I just feel so down. Already I've found myself snapping at and shutting out my sis and my best friends. The fact that my friends have created a new monicker for me isn't helping: "Gimpy" + "ballerina" ="gimparina". That's how they greet me now... and before class and after, everyone's practicing and chatting and I feel like I'm on another planet... and an invisible one at that... I'm not even expected to change for class because it would take me forever to do so with this stupid bulky splint, and also because the studio's freezing and I'm not going to get warm if I'm just sitting on my butt all class. To add insult, my other ankle is all achy now because all my weight is always on it, and my wrists hurt from the crutches (permission to throw me a little sympathy granted).


Any ideas for keeping muscle memory intact when unable to dance? I seriously feel like just saying "whatever" and dropping my dance classes at this point.



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If your doctor allows it, perhaps you could try a floor barre. Or give yourself a barre in a pool. I read in Pointe Magazine about a dancer who came back from a serious leg injury with pilates and doing barre in a pool. It worked for him. I see elderly people walking in the pool all the time. The usually wear some kind of floatation belt to help keep them bouyant. Maybe you could work up to doing your combinations in the pool wearing one of these floatation belts.


Ask your doctor first.

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Remember, injuries are disappointing, but they must not be allowed to take you over. Floor barre is a good idea, and Pilates, and watching classes with the educated eye are all good. Just don't let the ballet be something you do between injuries! Keep your eye on the doughnut and not on the hole!

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I just got Zena Rommett's Floor Barre Technique in the mail (thanks DazedandConfused) today. I wanted to learn it for working at home while I'm watching tv. While I know it is still difficult, it will be good to get my weight off my legs. They're tired.


But I also find it encouraging for my injuries to do floor barre while my class does their barre. I have seen other girls do it, but I never learned it properly, so the video will help and my teacher is going to take some time to teach us. Luckily she is very well known in my area for floor barre technique. From what I understand so far, it is doing all that they do at the barre, but from lying on the floor. It is supposed to really help with placement.


It can be a great way to keep your muscle tone and technique while out with an injury! Talk to your teacher about it and see if she'll let you do it.


Then you can watch center and write down corrections that you can use as you get back to center yourself. I also find it helpful to remember combos now since I write them down. Also making up my own combos and saying them helps tremendously, so Mel is right to look at the doughnut! What great imagery, although such a tease since we can't really eat doughnuts!

Edited by undertutu
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I'm feeling ya, Grace, as I'm out and have missed a guaranteed show and an audition, as well as a more dance intensive fall, for the past month. I'm waiting to hear from all of my doctors as to what my foot pain actually is and what to do about it. Meanwhile I am down and feel like I've lost alot of strength. Foor barre never crossed my mind intil I read this thread- thanks guys! Grace- try using your hands and arms to mark, for some reason, this helps me when I can't use my feet or want to watch something through rather than doing with the demonstrator. It's also good just to say the steps in your head, sing them to the rhythm. This I do all day.

Good luck in making the time pass. Take Pink Tight's advice to heart, and don't overwork a healing body. I twisted my ankle and stretched some ligaments at 15, and pretty much messed up that joint for life because I didn't want to slow down. Now my doctors suspect that my foot problems have to do with weakness on the side of my ankle with the stretched ligaments. I did that half my life ago, and am still dealing with the direct consequences of not taking care of my body. Get well soon!

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Grace, I am not sure if my advice applies as I am about 10 years older than you, was five years older when I was where you are now, and obviously that means I will never have half the possibility of getting real good that you have. But I too get frustrated easily, especially in a class I feel is "too hard" for me - I know I could have never coped being in a variations class after a year of studying ballet. :speechless:


As a piece of advice that might work for you or not: when I get frustrated, in ballet or at my PhD work or wherever, I try to think that as long as I am learning something, I am going forward. It might be slow, but nothing can stop me. You cannot "get" things as big wholes, you have to take one tiny step at a time. One step, and then another, and another - but when I start the journey, I must think only of the next step, not the whole way, or I despair.


So look at your notes. Pick, say, a term that has a question mark next to it. Look it up (do you have some ballet step reference books? there are some good recommendations on this site somewhere, if you need one). Or pick one (ONE!) movement the arms and head you missed, and ask your teacher about that. And see, you have gone forward.


Then rinse and repeat.


(And yeah, I know, easier said than done. :shrug::):blushing: The only thinking that works for me, though, it seems.)

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I know I could have never coped being in a variations class after a year of studying balle. :blushing:


I definitely second to that!!!


I can't remember if you have had dance training in the past etc, but I keep wondering (after reading this post and the other one in which you thought that you had made a bad impression after the first class with the new teacher) how an earth that is even possible that one is able to take variations class after only one year?! :speechless:


By "be able" I mean, that you really must be very talented and an extraordinary student to be able to do that, because we "normal" people don't even know enough steps after one year to be able to do any variation, not to mention coordination of head and arms etc! :shrug: Or maybe we could have been the second tree/rock from the left. :)


I, too, know how it is to be frustrated, but don't be too hard on yourself. Really.

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First and foremost, thank you so much to everyone who replied to my whiney post. Your support and encouragement is incredible and very much needed. :)


I know I should try to just do what I can in class and let my ankle heal, but it's just so hard sometimes. I simply feel inadequate sitting out


I e-mailed my teacher to ask about floor barre, and she thought it would be a great idea, but wanted me to get a doctor's approval. So back to the docs I went. He crushed my hope by saying "sure, as long as you can do it without removing the splint or getting it wet. (I'm stuck in a padded plaster half-cast type thing. It's removable for bathing and such, but without it my foot just sort of flops to the side because I have no strength right now). As for not getting wet, that apparently rules out floor barre, unless I can figure out how not to sweat, LOL. I'll be getting a new splint/brace of some sort in a week, when I will (hopefully) be allowed to bear weight. The doc says until then I can do resistance stuff with my good leg and whatever I want with my uper body, so it's not all bad. In the meantime, my very nice teachers have promised to come up wth some floor barre stuff that wil work with the barre they have planned for my classmates.


To those of you who were wondering about my dance training- it's a boring story for those who already know it, but:


May-June 2005: Took a 3 week intro jazz intensive and a 3 week intro ballet intensive back to back at uni. Danced for 8 hours a day, 4(or was it 5?-can't remember) days per week. Was almost 22. No dance experience of any sort (not even clubbing :blushing: prior to this)


July 2005-August 2005: Took random ballet classes around town. Became very aware that ballet works with my body, mind and internal rhythm.


September 2005-April 2006: Auditioned for 2nd year level ballet class. Got in somehow. Counted my lucky stars. Hardest class I've ever had to get through... harder than organic chem and biochem put together. :sweating::shrug:


{Edited to add: Spent All of March and April in an aircast for a bad sprain of the ankle, 3rd-5th metarsals, midfoot tendonitis and ankle synovitis. Ankle related to jazz intensive, other injuries from biking accident. Ignored injuries until they worsened}


Summer 2006: Another ballet intensive at uni, this time at the 3rd year level. Learned A LOT of new stuff, had some hard times, came out lovign ballet more ardently than ever.:D Got kicked in the bad ankle in Aug. by a man in steel-toed boots. Yes, by accident. :P


September 2006: Auditioned for variations and technique classes at the 4th year level. Got in then immediately wondered what the heck I'd gotten mysef into. (Still wonder). :pinch:


Which brings us to recent times: Discovered that the better at ballet I get, the clumsier I get in real life. Learned that if you are at the top of a staircase and lose a crutch, you ve the potential to take out many people in one go. Learned that open communication between dance teacher and dance student is incredibly important (I know I know you all were right, I was wrong!) Learned to feel sorry for myself and exploit the wonderful people at BT4D. Learned that BT4D members offer solid advice that I really, really should listen to as soon as I receive it. Asked for more good advice. :lol::rolleyes:


On the plus side, I've gotten my term paper for my variations class done (yay!)


Now if only I can focus more in class... I'll try marking with my hands, that's a great idea... I'll also look up or ask my teacher/peers about stuff that I missed or didn't get. Deep breaths...!





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Totally lovely to read this post. You've gone through a steep learning curve quickly! Congrats, head over to the champagne couch, you've lots ot be proud of!


Regarding floor barre - not all types of it make me sweat (especially not my ankle!) - some basic, slow pilates mat work might be okay too, if you're familiar? Some investigation might not hurt... ?


Good luck, and take care of yourself!

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Well, Grace..........at least you can walk with crutches! When I had a stress fracture in my right ankle I used them for a day and realized I was going to break the other leg if I continued. I called the doc and told him they weren't really working too well for me and he said okay, but I would be in my splint longer (and I was :thumbsup: ).


For what it's worth, I have:


- Torn the medial menisucs in my left knee (and the surgery was botched, so it took 18 months to fully heal) while carrying a load of laundry up the basement stairs

- Severly pulled my right Achilles tendon (almost ripped it) when I stepped into a pot-hole in the courtyard of Le Palaise de Versailles (the 8 hour plane ride home with a severly swollen ankle at high altitude was lovely)

- Somehow managed to get a stress fracture in my right ankle (no idea how, wasn't dancing at the time)

- Continuously manage to push my right knee back into hyperextension and tweak it while walking


So.......take heart that you are not the only clumsy one here. I've actually never hurt myself dancing. It's the basic things, like walking, that hurt me. I need to revisit my childhood on several matters, walking and learning to swallow being two of them (I also manage to choke myself at least once a day :unsure: ).


I hope you a speedy recovery, and do take the time to listen to your body and let it heal at the pace it needs to. Ankles are so important in ballet.........remember that.




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Grace, it's so good to "see" you in a good mood!


You must be an incredibly gifted dancer, to have gotten through the auditions into those classes in such a short time! An injury can never hold you back for long with that and the good attitude. Please keep us posted on your progress, this is such an inspiring story. :flowers:


Are you sure sweating makes the cast so wet floor barre is out of the question? Could you clarify with the doctor's office?

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Everyone! Listen to this!!!


I called the nurse at my doc's office today and asked about floor barre, telling her exactly what exercises my teachers (who are actually very knowledgeable in the art of floor barre!!!) had set out for me and they said to come in for a quick check. I did and it turns out this cast-splint is getting quite loose (swelling has gone way down) so I have to go back to the hospital for a new one sooner than anticipated. Thus, the nurse said- and I quote- "go wild- just don't put weight on it... and then when you go back to the hospital, tell the doc there about floor barre and he may even be able to give you a different kind of splint or brace." YAY!


Anyways, that's not the best part... this is:


Today I went to class early so my variations teacher could show me how to do some of the stuff (she asked me to). Some of my friends were watching and decided to join in the practice run. Everyone was having so much fun with this novel barre that the teacher gave a 15 min floore barre to everyone! They did real barre for the next 30 min and I continued on the floor. But isn't that cool?


I told a couple of my friends about my difficulties with the combinations and they invited me to come to their practices (we can book studios on campus in our free time) and to even videorecord them if it will help (they're camera hams) :flowers:



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