Some Extra Facts

There is so much more about the Clan Gunn to explore! We had crests and mottos and all of those lovely additions that made each clan so proud of their lineage and associations. Their plaid hung about them as they married, as they fought battles – it was used as their identity. The crest hung on walls and tapestries and reminded them of their ancestors and where they had come from – the hardships they had endured. So, here are some of those facts –

Motto: Aut pax aut bellum (Either peace or war)

Plant Badge: Juniper

Pipe Music: The Gunn’s Salute

Crest: Crest

Tartan: Ancient – gunn_ancient

Tartan: Modern – gunn_modern

Tartan: Weathered – gunn_weathered

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The Semester’s Lesson

So, it’s been a while! Nearly an entire semester of adventures to relay – trials and triumphs! Being a part of the most glorious production I have ever had the honor to be a part of: Epic. — And finding some pretty incredible people. It isn’t ballet, and it isn’t a studio – We are brothers and sisters and a family.

Each class is a struggle. I have to rush from the office to dawn tight, stretchy clothing (not to mention attempt to put my rather short hair up in some sort of cute but functional up-do) while leaving appropriate time to warm up and get all of the extra creaking and popping out of my joints. During which, I reorient my brain to go from the stresses of the day to focus on what is to come. Meanwhile, my fellow classmates are talking about their algebra test and how they had to wake up at 8:30 in the morning – all as they effortlessly pull their foot up over their head. There are so many chances for the enemy to put those pins in your gut that could cripple you. And class hasn’t even started!

But there are smiling faces with honest care about how your day is going. There are scriptures written on the mirrors which serve as a literal and metaphorical focal point for which you can spot. Prayer is said for any physical or emotional pain you may be going through. And tears are understood as a process by which we all can heal and grow.

My dancing, my mind and my spirituality has grown in being a part of this family. As I work through this summer and spend precious moments with those who are also involved in the studio, my life has grown richer than I could have ever imagined. Dance has become my ministry through which I can share the beauty and love of God and celebrate Him. It serves as proof in my own heart that we can come to know Him intimately through our relationships and time here and now on Earth.

PS – I finally landed a double. 😉

You Want Me To Do What?

In our Winter Performance, one of our leads (who is also a teacher) had to perform part of her dance as though she were blind. This meant she had to keep her eyes closed. Wait for it… Let it sink it… Yup, there you go. This also meant no spotting. Whoa! However, she also says that it helped her learn more about the placement and technique of her body by being completely engulfed by it. That’s an interesting thought.

She said that she learned so much about herself as a dancer that she decided to have us give it a go at barre and do a couple of routines with our eyes closed. Nothing outlandish. Just some of your standard warm ups. Plies to fondues, etc. I don’t need to explain to you that it was difficult. Your center gets thrown off, and you have to set your mind deep inside yourself to pull any sort of function out. Still, you are much more aware of turnout, placement and the likes.

Now, for various reasons, I have been struggling in center. Turns have been a nightmare. Turning in and hopping, just messy. After doing some blind barre work, my turns were smoother. I glided instead of hopped. It was fantastic! My center of gravity was much more on que that it had ever been before. Of course, that peaked the confidence, and things steamrolled from there. Since we are a faith based studio, it was shared that doing a blind barre was much like our faith in Christ. The barre is there. We feel it. We depend on it. It is the foundation of building strength to do center work. When we close our eyes and cannot see the barre, things get thrown off so much. Yet, we have to trust it to do its part and be the guide, so we may gain strength in Him.

Frustration and Reward

Things are finally starting to click. No, literally. That’s my hip you’re hearing! But figuratively as well… One class a week, my level dances with the company, and I have finally advanced enough where I can see individual movement and style between dancers – what makes one or another stronger in different areas. I count this as a blessing, because I can then begin to apply it to myself until I find my own unique style. It has also helped me in technique… or so I think, at least.

While I still am horribly poor at floor work and putting a string of French words into a fluid movement that might resemble a dance, I am beginning to feel the language of those movements back in my legs. It’s very exciting!

Over the last few months, the studio has been preparing for a performance called Metamorphosis. I like to describe it as being an expression of Christ’s gift of life flowing from one chapter of our lives to another with Him always by our side. It was given imagery in our dance (by our brilliant choreographers) as a caterpillar that has given in to the dark and unknowing cocoon so it can be broken down at a cellular level only to be made completely new as a beautiful butterfly with the gift of flight. Each dancer had this story in their heart, and each one was a little different. That is the beauty of the message, I feel.

For me, I had a chance to learn specific choreography and spend months working on every single movement. For a long while, no real change came from my practicing. It was really about memorizing! But over this last week and into the performance, something happened. Something clicked, and I felt like I could finally open my heart to the dance and express some of my personality. The dance became personal, and it was an expression of my many journeys and my particular journey with ballet. God gave me wings through this studio and those involved in it, and I had an opportunity to share it with the world. For that, I will forever be thankful.

The spring semester starts next week, and I am eager to jump back into it. No more back of the class. No more hesitation for questions. Time to spread those wings! Well… We’ll see how it goes. 😉

The Devil Wears Sansha

As you know, I’ve just begun the journey of pointe. Back in September I was fitted for my first pointe shoes in a very long time, and I was so very excited to get them and begin! Who was to be my new best friend? Sansha Debutantes.

After a month of breaking them in and building muscle, etc, I was still having tremendous trouble getting up on the box. I thought it was just me. Luckily, my teacher had feet very close to mine. After my teacher tried them and was having extreme difficulty getting on the box herself, I decided to change shoes.

Now, being where I am, the closest store for pointe is two hours north or 5.5 hours where I was fitted for the Sanshas. A bit of a trek, but necessary. My in-laws live in the 2 hour away location, and since we were going there for the holidays, it seems like it was meant to be!

We entered the shop, and my husband (who loves attention) decided to cry out, “Ballet isn’t a sport!” Boy, he learned quick that ballerinas are nothing to be trifled with. After he was threatened to be put in a tutu, I was refitted and given spacers this time, new toe pads and a brand new shoe: Bloch Jetstream. Not only that, but this time I was told that I am double jointed in my ankles, my suspension muscles need help and my alignment is off – which has caused my ever increasing shin splints and issues with fitting my heel in pointe shoes. (She was a ballet-nazi to be sure!)

This wonderful lady gave me her time in helping me get to know my new shoes, how sewing them differently might help in my issues stated above, and even gave me some pointers to help keep that dreadful smell down in the toe pads. — That’s some stinky stuff! Not to mention, she made my poor husband feel comfortable during this hour process. He used my “brick” shoes, as she called them, to thwart flies in her shop.

I was just so grateful for her help and wisdom in this process!

Studio News

My studio recently announced the theme for our winter performance: Metamorphosis. Being a student of literature, my mind immediately went to cockroaches and utter depression, but the enthusiasm in the studio leaders’ faces brought me back to reality. What was meant was a metamorphosis of spirit. (So much better.)

Allow me to backtrack a little. I’ve already shared that my studio is faith based, but I haven’t shared the story of the continual thrust of my spirit towards taking up ballet classes again. There were many things that stirred in my heart, but when a wonderful family from my church invited me to see their studio’s spring performance, I knew it was another instance of calling. So, I went.

The performance brought me to tears. The story was beautiful. The dancing was incredible, and the passion was explosive. It was the final straw on the back of this camel. I know God knew the personal struggles going on in my life that made me sad. Everyone has them, right? But He knew dance, and even more, this studio would bring my heart back to life and inspire that same passion that makes this life beautiful.

So, again, Metamorphosis: An expression of that change one goes through when they come to let Christ into their hearts. A physical and spiritual change. A very literal change. The leaders had a great way of illustrating it. It is like a caterpillar in a chrysalis becoming a butterfly. Changing from a crawling creature that fed on leaves to one that flies and feeds on the sweet nectar of flowers. This is the same when we become a being of Adam to one with Christ. His heart becomes one with ours, and we begin to bare His fruit.

While I know this change occurred in me when I allowed Christ into my heart, I can see it continuing as He leads me through life as He led me to this studio. I have been given wings through Him, and He is teaching me how to fly. I cannot wait to share that journey with the world through our performance. And if you get a chance, I would love for you to be there!

Right En Pointe

The epic moment is here! The both dreaded and highly anticipated first pointe class. What was the one most important (and most humbling) thing I learned? – To have even more respect for my fellow classmates at their incredible strength and ability.

I had to drive to a town two and a half hours away for work and then rush back to make the class. I got into town a little earlier than I thought I would, but I couldn’t wait with the excitement lingering. I headed to the studio to stretch and warm up an hour before class.

There should have been a little more stretching, but I was interrupted by an adorable little girl who insisted that I was a boy (I have a pixie cut) and wanted to share my theraband. Oh well. After two months of getting back into shape and pushing myself, my confidence was brimming to the hilt. I squeezed my feet in, strung up those ribbons and sauntered off.

Oh. My. Goodness. Dudes/Dudettes, I found new muscles that are hidden within muscles that are wrapped around other muscles – I mean, are you kidding me? But the feeling of lifting up and gathering the strength in places you formerly didn’t know you had in yourself – both mentally and physically – is exhaustingly exhilarating in the best of ways.

Needless to say, I will be soaking in an epsom salt bath with a shot of NaturalCalm chased by a tall glass of coconut water so I’m not cramping up in class tomorrow. Still, I am a respectful fan of the “pretty pink coffins” that my one teacher calls them, and I so very much look forward to what new abilities I will find in myself.

Dancing With Grace

Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night by an overpowering desire to find a song that you danced to in class? The medley is stuck in your head and your heart, and you have to find it and add it to your playlist for the next day. Well, it happened to me at about 2 am this morning.

I was talking about it with my husband this morning (who was in turn woken up by the brilliant glare of the computer screen — poor guy), and he gave me a rather stunning insight that I knew but has never occurred to me. We dance to these songs. Our bodies time with the music in the most intimate ways, and we bring the song into our souls in the studio. Whether it’s ballet, jazz, modern, etc – a bond is formed between the sound of the instruments and the movements of our bodies. I think that is a glorious and beautiful thing and a testimony to the amazing and heartfelt desire of God in creating us.

My ballet studio is faith based. We pray for strength of body and heart before each class, and we honor Him in all we do. I have never felt so at home as I do in that studio.

Frustration is inevitable. Especially when I’m trying to find my legs again (or body – to be honest). But the understanding that God created us with astounding ways to grow, heal, overcome, mend, love, and move is utterly and completely humbling. The mastering of a single technicality takes patience, focus and grace with ourselves. Watching my fellow classmates strive and achieve has allowed me to witness such beautiful wonder, and I am eternally grateful for that.

After some meditation on this, God has inspired me with an understanding of another dimension of His grace. He is always with us and always in our hearts. He is patient and loving in the same way we must be with ourselves in every aspect of dance. I have struggled with this – struggled with making my body achieve what I want it to – and when I take a breath, refocus my body and refocus my mind on knowing He is there with me, the results may not be perfection, but I have a happier heart. And it makes it all worth while.

Segue

My previous post was written in July when I went through a summer workshop as an introduction back into ballet. I must say, it was daunting. Not only is it not like riding a bike, muscles were awoken that I had long forgotten even existed. Flexibility was weak, plies feeble, arms were noodles in the wind. Forget battus, I could barely lift myself off the ground! But… it was an absolute blast. 🙂

It was such a blast that I signed up for a full fall schedule despite being the breadwinner in my family. Although I may only have a husband, dog and cat, time is limited. Still, if it wasn’t a challenge, where would the satisfaction of the push be? There is a sign that sits in the changing room in the studio that reads – “If ballet were easy, everyone would be doing it.” That about sums it up.

So, here we are a little over a month into the semester. I’m relearning the tricks! Coconut water after classes for rehydration. NaturalCalm for giving those sore muscles what they need to rejuvenate. Trigger point therapy. How to warm up and cool down properly. (All things I’ll be sharing about in the future!) Some of the most basic technique that equals the perfection each dancer strives for. Our bodies were created to be able to accomplish the tremendous feats dancers are given. We heal. We grow. We sustain. The beauty and passion that emanates in a performance comes from the heart, and that heart is grown in the community of a studio. In all ways, slowly but surely, I’m getting there. And it feels good.

Because of my age, my teachers placed me in the level below Company and Apprentices. (Just add to that pile of challenges, right?) Trust me, this was no compliment to my ability. Strictly age. With this comes what all ballerinas yearn for and dread — Pointe! Yay!

So, I was fitted for my first pointe shoes in over a decade. Granted, I was only en pointe for maybe two months previously. My feet have changed slightly since my last introduction, but those pearly pink beauties are ordered and on their way! I have never been so excited to murder my feet — and let you know all about it.

“I Dreamed A Dream”

Have you ever dreamed of something you had rather not admitted? As if acknowledging that it rested in your heart would cause instant failure, because there was no way you could ever accomplish such a feat?

I have. And it scares me to death. I am staring down the throat of the beast called Potential Failure, and still I find myself twirling gleefully upon its sharp right incisor. I do mean twirling in the literal sense, and there are little pink ballet slippers upon my feet. It is the art of dance I am after. Now, being a mostly grown woman of 24 years old who has not danced in nearly 8 years, it may look more like a strained flamingo in a strong wind, but that’s the deep, daunting blackness beneath me speaking.

Children are always signed up for various endeavors when in their parents care: soccer, riding lessons, t-ball, ballet. Parents hope and pray that these social activities instill some sort of character structure and strength with a bit of accountability in their childs’ lives. Ballet class was that for me. Not to mention, all of the other moms’ little girls were in the class, so there was a bit of social acceptance pressure on my mother as well. While I never hated dancing, it was the having to go to dance class that I found grueling and tiresome. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. Guess that was part of the accountability thing I had to learn. Still, I went. I learned as much as my stubborn self would allow, and I was always told that I had a gift for it. Everyone likes to hear that, right? Looking back, I wish I had seized that opportunity a little more and used those apparent talents to their most potential. Maybe I wouldn’t be in threat of making such a fool of myself now, and my desires would be a little less daunting.

Oops, there’s that pit I’m seeing again. I was petite once… and young and flexible. Well, I’m still petite, but I don’t have the figure of a 12 year old girl anymore. The flexibility has decreased in proportion to the love handle expansion. Yet, I find myself desiring to dance again and have signed up for classes. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just me, my living room and a personal DVD that could give me insightful instruction without having to actually watch me, but an actual class? I’m seriously considering joining a class of younger, better instructed students to begin my dream of learning ballet once more? It seems as though I’m lifting into that pirouette before I spot.

But you know, I’ll never know until I try, and I can’t try without a risk of failure. I think I’ll be saving the Facebook announcement until I’ve successfully survived my first class. Who knows, maybe that monster’s throat will turn out to merely be an audience filled auditorium and the tooth my pedestal of a stage.