After having surgery earlier this year, I can truly say I have come a long way and having a positive attitude and patience has helped me along my path to recovery.
When I saw the first specialist in December last year about my injury, he told me my career was over. I was devastated, and left the Doctors rooms in tears and feeling like my world had crumbled into a total heap. I was an absolute mess, thinking that I might never dance again, and might never be able to point my foot because he told me that after surgery my range of movement would be extremely limited. (due to the metal pin he was going to put through my ankle joint to stabilize the bones and ligaments!)
It just goes to show, that it pays to take some time to get second, and third opinions, and don’t rush into anything just because that’s what the first person said.
I found myself a Specialist who listened to me, who could understand what I needed out of my foot, and who didn’t just jump in all guns blazing to do a cool surgery because that’s what Surgeons like to do, they like to cut. Instead, she only operated on what she needed to first, to give me a chance at continuing my career.
God bless her, she did a fantastic job, and I find myself again dancing, performing and teaching, after a lot of hard work getting my foot to move. It’s still not as strong as it was, but it’s getting there, and now I am even back wearing a pair of pointe shoes! That for me was the ultimate goal, if I could get back en pointe, I could do anything!
Now, here I am rehearsing for 2 shows where I will be performing en pointe in December. I am choreographing a Lyrical which I will perform at the Thames Civic Centre for and with my dance students of the Dance Education Centre, and I am rehearsing to perform in an excerpt from Les Sylphides which is part of the Apollo Theatre Company production of 1920’s Cinderella. I’m also playing the role of the Fairy Godmother, it’s a Pantomime so I have a few lines to learn which is keeping me busy.
I am really enjoying feeling my feet back inside the familiar yet painful pointe shoes. It’s a lot of work, but I’m relishing the chance to push myself and feel my body getting stronger each week. I can definitely feel the huge difference between my feet. My right foot is super strong and bends the shoe to it’s will, to the point where I need to constantly change the right shoe over to the left foot and put a newer shoe on the right side again. The left foot I have to really concentrate hard on knowing where it is. I need to focus a lot on the alignment so that I don’t ‘fish’ both of my feet as I have a tendency to dance on my big toes. Turnout is a big issue – of course, it always is for every ballerina – I feel a decent amount of pain on the outside of my left ankle when I’m trying to turnout the foot while it is my supporting leg. This is the area of my ankle where the injury was very swollen, and still to this day is bigger around the entry site from the surgery, than on my right foot.
What I have found interesting, is that now I’m very nervous about performing Releves on my left foot. This side used to be my strong supporting side, and I was able to Releve repeatedly to do virtuosity steps such as Grand Fouette Releve en Tournant, and now I feel almost scared to pull that foot up onto pointe underneath me. I’m quite happy to Pose onto pointe and turn to the left, but the strong ‘snatch’ action of the Releve is going to take me some time to get confident with. I can feel the lack of power in my calf and the looseness of my ankle – I have naturally very flexible ankles, and without the strength I had previously developed to hold them tight, the left one now wobbles around like a bobble-head doll at the end of my leg. Not really ideal, ha ha.
So, now I have 3 weeks until I make my debut en pointe, firstly in Thames, and the following week in Auckland. The plan is to continue working hard, do some strengthening exercises each day alongside my Tracy Anderson workouts, and of course, run through the dances a lot to build up my stamina. That’s where the danger sets in, when I’m tired during the dance and I can feel lactic acid in my foot and lower leg. So that will take some determination and will power to keep pushing through, and the best medicine as I said before, is to just run the dance through, full-out, over and over again.
Fingers and Toes crossed, I hope I can do it!