The other night I dreamt I was rehearsing Tchai Pas.
It was very clear: In the Grand Studio on Hope Street, the romantic music of the Adagio softly sang and I skittered across the room on my toes, fingers seeming to sprout from the hand of my attentive partner. I was wearing the blue silk rehearsal skirt that Ruth made for me. The one with the “magic in the fabric,” so she said with a wink.
I woke up with the corners of my mouth curled and Tchaikovsky purring in my ears.
I thought about ending this post on a sweet gushy note, but instead I’ll write about what happened when the clock struck seven and the dream dust cleared from my eyes. I felt anxious. Every day as a professional dancer can bring its own brand of nerves, but the return to a new season (after 4 long months off) is always particularly daunting. What if I can’t pick up the choreography? How do we usually learn contemporary movements? Am I really supposed to do all of that en pointe?
This year’s preseason jitters have been especially active, bouncing from my belly to my lungs like winged daggers. For a career that requires such immense physical preparation, the mental readiness becomes a quiet killer, lulling you into Balanchine dreams before yanking the wool from over your eyes. It’s a battle between dark and light, this tug-of-war to keep your thoughts as happy ones. But being your own cheerleader can be hard in a world so depreciating. Mental health struggles abound and sometimes it feels really good to just give in.
But instead I’ll choose the light. I’ll bask in the goodness of ballet. I’ll cherish the jitters and enjoy the glow of being a fiancé and soon-to-be-homeowner (eeeep, stay tuned!). I’ll pierce the sky with my winged daggers, cutting through clouds until I reach the sun.
Will you join me?
photos by Samantha Wong.