The alarm rings and I struggle to open my eyes. I barely reach for my phone and put it on snooze before sleep overtakes me. In less than a second, it rings again. Okay okay, I’m up. I check the time, it’s 6:05am… I grudgingly get up from my bed and prepare for today’s training. I have everything planned out down to the last second. Ijay, all you need to do is follow through with your training and you will be fine. I get myself ready to train. No ballet barre, no studio and no mirror so I have to improvise. The wall, of course. The wall would serve as my barre. I put on some music and begin.
My training starts at the barre (in this case, the wall) working on alignment, balance and body posture. In fifth position, I go into a pliè (a small one) and then a deeper pliè bending my knees to the floor making sure that my my core is engaged, my butt is squeezed in and I’m not leaning forward with my upper body. I’m basically squatting but my knees are open, facing opposite directions. I rise and get back to my original fifth position. As I repeat this necessary exercise, random soul crushing thoughts come to my head. You are nowhere near perfect… I usually exhaust myself everyday thinking about this. It requires a daily effort to get over each episode. I get better everyday, I just need to be consistent…
My thoughts stretch out as I extend and elongate my upper body for port de bras. My arms gracefully followed the directions my brain was giving it. Be graceful Ijay, you’re giving it your best… As I lean forward with my upper body, keeping the lower part of my body in place, I feel tension in my hamstring, pathetic, I ignore it and push forward. Tension is good. It means I’m improving. As I come back up to my standing position, my heart breaks. Pfft! Not good enough Ijay, the self criticizing voice in my head reminds me.
I ignore it and I get in position for a tendu. As I slide one foot forward gently but intentionally, I try to make sure that my thighs are engaged and my foot is pointed. Point you foot dammit! Swallowing hard, I exert more strength making sure that foot is really pointed this time. Time to move on.
Petit allegro always excited me… The fast but precise jumps always attacked the muscles I didn’t know existed in my body. It showed how little things could have huge effects. Jump Ijay, keep your head up, core engaged, butt squeezed in and focus on the arms! I push through, barely maintaining the proper positions as I collapse on the floor, panting. Really? You can’t push through 30 seconds? Shame…
After ballet, I give myself ten minutes to recover before I begin to condition my body and stretch. I scroll through Instagram during that time, watching dance videos and somehow I always stumble upon younger dancers. They throw their flexibility in my face and act like it’s nothing. It’s now a mundane activity for them. Same goes for their strength. Five minutes into my break, I get frustrated and started stretching. Wrong move Ijay. My heart is blinded by pain and jealousy. No, I can do this! I start to stretch without warming up my muscles. This is going to cost me.
I’m going to get this today. Beads of sweat trickle down my forehead and my chest. You’re not going to get it, not like this… Still pushing, I force my body into the stretch. Almost there…… My stomach starts to hurt, I know something terrible is about to happen… Crack! Something pops! I scream and let go almost immediately, falling to the floor and breathing even harder than I did before. Told you…. Too afraid to find out what popped, I lie on the floor sobbing….