Soul searching

by Henrik on April 11, 2012

If you are a regular reader of Tights and Tiaras (and know that i love you!), you have probably noticed it is has been quiet around here for a while now. I know I’m letting you guys down, and I’m sorry. The list of reasons is long. I promise, I won’t rant, I won’t excuse myself further or complain, but allow me to explain a little.

An anatomical picture of the knee, with the meniscus highlighted

The meniscus is the "bumper" in the knee softening the pressure between the tibia and the femur bone when moving.

It all started when I in December suffered an injury to my knee during a performance. A bad landing, a stabbing pain, and there I was. My right meniscus had given up, was shattered to pieces, and parts of it needed to be surgically removed. A light injury, the doctor said, “you’ll be back on your legs in a couple of weeks”. I wish it would have been so.  A couple of weeks later my knee was  swollen and stiff, and the results of the physiotherapy still had to present themselves. It wasn’t the doc’s fault, though, the surgery went well and all – my knee just turned out to be in worse shape than what they thought in advance.

Fast forward two months. My leg is developing (and developpé’ing :) ), I’m doing classes, jumping even. Training with a therapist daily, strengthening, swimming, eating all sorts of pills. Pills for the pain, pills for the cartilage, pills for the swelling… I wasn’t eating pills for my mood, but after a big set-back in the beginning of March, I might have needed some. The knee started hurting again, but now differently. The jumps I had been able to perform a week earlier now felt like someone put an axe to my patella, and mentally, I was loosing it – set-backs are horrible.

My boss, the director of the ballet company, didn’t exactly help to soothe my mood, either. By mid March, he told me he is unable to prolong my contract for the next season, and that I would need to find a new job to continue dancing. The audition “season” for dancers is from about christmas to approximately the end of February, I was late already, and my knee is nowhere ready for the stress a series of auditions produce.

.

I have been through rounds and rounds in my head the last months, weighing my options, searching my feelings. I’ve been up and down, optimistic and on the edge of breakdown. Smiled, and cried – I did, I’ve cried at several occasions – not a typical thing for me to do, it’s been years since I last cried. The ballet studio has been the one set point in my life for as long as I remember. But all dancers know the time will come when things will change, and I think my time might be closing in. But it’s not because of the injury, nor the situation it has put me in. These are all things that easily can be fixed. Injuries heal (however slowly…), and there’s always auditions. The question is, can I still go at it with the same energy? Do I still have the fire, the urge I need to keep ‘breaking in’ my body daily, mentally prepare to present myself as good as I possibly can, shape a role, a feeling, a movement?! Can I keep making the sacrifices, knowing the scale never really ‘equals out’? I’m afraid I might not. I will write more about this, dear readers, explain to you, and perhaps, myself, what I mean behind these somewhat abstract words, but I wanted to tell you all, I haven’t forgotten about you. It’s hard to keep writing blog posts when your life is so drastically changing at the same time. I didn’t want to keep presenting you “factual” posts without any personal substance, but I couldn’t get myself to formulate my feelings into words, either. One need to identify feelings before it’s possible to write about them, and that’s been a hard process.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I’m leaving the blog, or dance, for that matter. I’m just adapting. Broadening my perspectives. If you stay with me, I’ll take you guys with me on the road – it’s amazing, what opportunities opens ahead once the ostrich pulls his head out of the sand. Thank you for your patience, dear readers. Thank you for your loyalty, your comments and your support. I don’t think you realize what a support it actually is.

Until next time, keep dancing! Keep expressing yourselves, keep enjoying yourselves. Keep dancing. I will as well!

.

Ta-Ta!
H

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff April 11, 2012 at 8:44 am

No worries! I am glad to hear you are recovering and taking time for yourself. Stay well and take care!

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Henrik April 11, 2012 at 9:01 am

Thanks, Jeff! :)

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Seven of Nine Davids April 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

“Can I keep making the sacrifices, knowing the scale never really ‘equals out’?” – Yeah, I wonder about this a lot. Do you mean that you never really get back what you put into it? Like it doesn’t offer any kind of security? Could you please explain that sentence in more detail.

I personally know ballet dancers who have to work 2 jobs to get by. I am not talking the biggest stars of the large ballet companies. I am talking core members and dancers in smaller companies.

They are practicing hours and hours, even on weekdays to perfect every bit of choreography for the upcoming performances. And that is an extremely physical and mental effort. But then they also have to go put in another 30 hours a week working at Starbucks and are on their feet during that time. And … everyone they run into expects them to talk about dance 24 / 7.

So, they have to be doing all of this because they get a lot back from it in spiritual and social ways that they just couldn’t get from working in a non-performance arts job. But yeah, they are only one injury away from ONLY working at Starbucks.

By the way. I just mentioned your Ballet Crash e-book to someone and told them how it is inspiring me to put together ideas for my own dance / fitness related e-book.

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Henrik April 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Hi Dave, and thanks for your reply.
Yes, I do mean sort of what you mention, that it doesn’t give back what I put in, put in very simple terms. I will, however, explain this more in a later post – I just need to explain it to myself, first… :)
Thank you for mentioning my e-book, I appreciate you spreading the word. And let me know if that dance-fitness-book of yours get done, I’d be very interested in reading it! :)
Cheers,
H

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Ying April 11, 2012 at 11:06 am

It’s a very difficult time for a dancer. Hope things go well with you. Greeting from Taipei. Give you my best wishes.

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Henrik April 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Thank you for your kind wishes, Ying!

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Iina April 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

Big life changes don’t ever happen without some degree of pain – hang in there, you’re still very young, don’t think about giving up a yet! You’ve had such a big misfortune now, it’s only natural to question whether you’ll have the energy to carry on with the hard realities of a professional dancer’s career. It’s probably a very healthy thing to do anyway. It really seems to be a very demanding profession indeed! But you will heal, you will have your energies back – then it’s time to re-evaluate what you want and set up new goals for yourself. Give yourself time..

I’m sorry to hear about your contract with the company – I tend to think there’s some reason for everything that happens in life, I’m sure you will have lots of other opportunities and whatever they may be I’m sure they will be happy ones!

Wishing you lots of courage and a positive trusting state of mind!

Iina

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EG April 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

I am so sorry to hear all these somewhat horrible things have happened to you and I sure hope you find a way – really your way – soon! Remember everything happens for a reason – usually because there is something bigger and better awaiting you, even if it doesnt seem to be that way right now! Stay strong and let your body heal fully!

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Alys Swan-Jackson April 11, 2012 at 11:21 am

So glad the injury is healing. Nevertheless it is devastating to lose your job. Keep strong! Don’t give up. You have a gift. Share it with the world. Best, Alys

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Four-Eyed Ballerina April 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I had wondered where you went. Whatever you decide I am sure you will be successful at what you do!

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Lola Schoen April 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

i’m also glad to read about your recovery, although i wished you a much faster and smoother one. so did you i guess. “soul searching” is really good chosen. you are a dancer and will probably forever be one, but perhaps there’s something more to discover and now life gives you the chance to search for it. it’s crazy, but two years or even one and a half year ago, if someone told me my life would be like this now, i would not have believed him. whatever will be and whatever comes i wish you all the best and a speedy completely recovery! also i wish you confidence and strength of mind to get through rough and hard times. i hope life will deliver you several opportunities to choose from and i hope you will always have the chance to keep up with what you love.

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Henrik April 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Dear Lola,

Thank you for your words. Yes, you are right, I will forever remain a dancer. But I feel now it’s time to develop further, widen my horizons and look for new opportunities – although I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for, yet. But who knows, maybe it isn’t even what I’m looking for thats important, rather the looking itself?! The Soul Searching headline wasn’t chosen randomly, I’m glad you understand it. Thank you for your kind wishes, and your support. And hang around T&T also in the future, I’ll keep you guys updated on whatever I find on my way :)
Cheers, H

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MaryLou April 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm

A dancer IS a dancer forever, whatever will happen to him. It’s all in the heart. :)
Good luck for your life!

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Henrik April 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Thank you MaryLou, for your kind wish! And yes, you are right ;)

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MaryLou April 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I know because even if i’m only a recreational dancer (and with knee issues – so I can understand your situation well :( ), that works for me too! ;)

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Terrry April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Thanks for the update, Henrik.

Being injured is not for sissies, for sure.
It often takes so long to come back, sometimes much longer than planned.

Most dancers have had this happen to them at some point or other.

So sorry about your contract. Bummer. (the saying, “adding insult to injury” jumps to mind)

I hope you find your way.
As someone above wrote, you are still very young, and all is not lost.

You are very wise to search your soul, though.
A dancer’s career is always short, so it is smart to think through things now and then, anyway.

Take care.
.T.

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Susan Kelley April 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Dear Hendrik,
Ten years ago my son, a principal at HNB suffered a terrible and crippling and career ending injury (not his fault!) onstage. Your knee may well return to normal … Do not give up. At that time, If you cannot or do not wish to perform any more, there are many opportunities to work in the field and to pass on the art which will always be yours – always! I am praying for you.
Susan

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Henrik April 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Thank you Susan! I’m sorry to hear about your son, accidents are terrible. But it is a part of our job, or at least, a risk we are taking… Thanks for your kind wishes

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J April 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I had wondered what had happened. I wish you a full recovery. I also wish that your future in dancing or another calling is as satisfying as your past. I am looking forward to hearing about your journey.

I was sorry to read that your injury was worse than anticipated and that you contract is ending. I would not feel like blogging either. I can say from personal experience that having people to talk to is helpful.

Take care and best wishes.

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Henrik April 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Hi J!
Thanks for your kind wishes. H

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Romain April 12, 2012 at 8:26 am

Thanks for sharing this Henrik !
Wish you luck for the future and really hope that you will find something that moves you and is related to dancing.
Will follow your blog and new adventures ;)

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Henrik April 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

:) Thank you, Romain!

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Lorry April 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I am so sorry to hear that things have not been going as well as hoped. And you are surely due your time to contemplate your situation privately for as long as you need. But I know most certainly that you will be alright, Henrik, because you are an amazing, strong, awesome person! Whatever path you go down, you will not only be okay, you will be wonderful because you don’t know how to give less than 100%! You already know that things aren’t always easy and life is not always fair, but you also already know that you have what you need in your heart, mind, and spirit to deal with your challenges and to move forward. Keep believing in yourself, you have lots of people, including me, who believe in you!

♡ Lorry

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Henrik April 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Thank you Lorry!
Your words are very kind, and inspiring! I will try to live up to your description of me – I wish you right :) Thank you for rooting for me, it means a lot! :) H

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Jack Hawn April 20, 2012 at 3:58 am

Henrik-

I am so saddened to hear this!!! I am 14 years old male and am going to be PreProfessional at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre starting in the fall, I simply can’t imagine the emotional pain of your situation, I’d be completely devastated and I applaud you for keeping your cool. I know you’ll work something out, and I’m excited to follow you on this journey. Id ask one favor though, do you have any, any tips at all for me in working towards a professional career? I don’t care what, I figure you’d understand that the smallest stuff helps.

Best of Luck and thanks for the help, if you feel like it!

Jack

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Henrik April 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Hi Jack,

Thanks for your support! I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about professional dancing as well as I can – and if I can’t, I’ll find someone who does. :) Drop me a line on Henrik@Tightsandtiaras.com, and we’ll take it from there :)
Who knows, maybe I can use your questions in a future post as well – I’m sure there are more people out there with similar thoughts!
Hang in there, keep working hard, and hope to ‘see’ you around the blog also in the future!
Oh, and check out this post: http://www.tightsandtiaras.com/2011/01/can-i-become-a-ballet-dancer/
Cheers,
H

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Luke Jennings April 20, 2012 at 8:39 am

Henrik, your courage is moving, as is your ability to look outwards and concern yourself with other people at such a hard time for yourself. My question is: are you confident you’re in the hands of the best possible practitioner?

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Henrik April 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Luke, thank you for your kind words.
Yes, I do have full trust in the practitioners that are treating me. The post-surgery problems I have experienced with my knee dates back to my quite severe surgery at 6-8 years old, and is not much anyone can do about anymore.. One may say I could have received better follow-up and physiotherapy back then, but it is just too late to start complaining about that now…
That said, I don’t think there will be any problems regenerating my knees ability back to 100%, it’s constantly getting better. The question is rather – am I willing to continue risking further pain and possibly surgeries down the road? I do plan on intensively using my knees for a long time still…
But I am a dancer, and will forever remain a dancer – regardless of how life develops :)
Thank you for your concern and your comment!
H

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Istvan April 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

I am really sorry to hear what’s going on. Thank you for sharing with us, it must be a very hard thing writing about it while you are still in pain – physically and emotionally. I can’t emphasize more than people before me that a dancer remains a dancer because it’s in the heart, and once you pass through this very hard time it remains with you inside even if you do something else, and gives you strength and energy for whatever you do!
I wish you all the best and hope you find the best way to go on very soon! I enjoy reading your posts again and again. You may not realize but your blog has helped Im sure not only me but other readers in one or another way and I am really grateful for it, and definitely looking forward to more when you are ready to write!
Wish you a successful ‘soul searching’!

Istvan

Istvan

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Henrik April 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Dear István,
Thank you for your very kind words. You are right indeed about remaining a dancer regardless of how life develops, and I do plan on sticking with my passion. The question is how I will continue relating to dance, but I’m sure it will work out. I have lots of plans, and even more dreams :)
I’m glad to hear you find inspiration in Tights and Tiaras, after all, that is the reason I’m writing the blog. Thank you for your patience with me, and hope to ‘see’ you around the blog also in the future!
H

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E'Monique April 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Henrik, I hope you find what your longing or desire is. I feel that desires propel us forward toward our dreams, how realistic or “unrealistic” (as pessimists call them) they are. You should keep focusing on getting better for you. It really does suck that the company director let you go… It’s not easy – as one can only imagine. I’m a sixteen-year-old African-American and an aspiring ballerina (it’s a going to be a bumpy road from here in Miami to New York City but I’m willing to fight those battles when the time comes). I’ve heard stories of great dancers reaching the other side of their peak – their downfall. I rarely get to hear the side of the story where they become great once again… even GREATER! I’m hoping that, with time, I will hear marvelous stories of awesomeness. I love you, Henrik! Thanks for everything! God bless :3

– Emomo :P

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Henrik April 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Dear E’Monique,
Thank you for your comment. As I wrote already in some of the other comments, my situation is not really about my job or the current state of my knee – the knee will heal, and there are other jobs. The question I need to answer, and why the post is called “soul searching”, is whether I am willing to go “back into the branches” once again after recovering, knowing that it may well cause more pain, other injuries, down the road..
It’s not a question whether I’ll dance or not, but I do want to figure out just how to do it, how I can use my body and develop myself further in a way that is good both for my mind, my heart, but also my body.
Glad to hear you are “rooting” for me, and I wish you all the best in your career! Being african-american doesn’t have to become a “problem” in your career at all! It’s 2012 – and although I know it has not always been so, I believe the world, even the ballet world, now appreciate all kinds of dancers, from all backgrounds and colors! Practice, work hard, and enjoy what you do, and you’ll reach your goals – even if your final goals, as mine, may turn out different from your original ones :) Time will tell – I wish you all the best!
H

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Imogen May 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Dear Henrik,

I’m so sorry to hear what a dreadful time you’ve been having – and full of respect for your courage in facing up to the implications of an injury so young. It takes courage too to be able to talk about this so publicly. I will be thinking of you; may your soul-searchings be fruitful – as I am sure they will, given your strength and maturity of character – and may you still have many years of dancing ahead. Maybe things will change a little – maybe they will change a lot – your mind is open and meanwhile you are still recovering, which is one big step on the path.

Just one more thing; anyone as good with words as you are must surely be able to consider the possibilities of an eventual second career being one involving educating or communicating in some way.

Good luck! Take Courage! Your heart is bigger than your woes and your strength is bigger still…

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Franco L! June 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Henrik… I just found your blog and fell in love with it! As everyone one keeps saying, dancers remain dancers their whole life! You will see that a lot more opportunities will come for you!

I would have definitely loved to have the courage and bravery you had to pursue your dream, I am sure you are a role model for others like me. I consider myself an amateur dancer, sometime a frustrated one, but reading to your whole adventure gives me hope. Although I think I am old enough to pursue a career in dancing I will dance my heart out as often as I can…

My best wishes for you, from Nicaragua!

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Henrik June 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Hi Franco, and thank you for your nice comment! :)
I’m glad to hear my blog inspires you. Do dance your heart out, it’s great, isn’t it? :) Cheers,
H

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Maria June 7, 2012 at 12:24 am

Henrik, if you dance as good as you write your posts, i’m sure you will find a new job in a minute :D I love your blog!!
I’m sorry for my english, i’m from Portugal.

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Roger June 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Henrik,

I am OK with you giving up dance because you think it is time. But do not let the injury or the loss of your job make that decision for you. I have not taken a dance class yet (Tuesday the 2nd of July will be my first) but I have lived life. And in life you have to make sure you live life on your terms. Re-evaluaitng your life is normal, but make sure the decision you make is the right one for you. FOR YOU!!! Not anyone else but yourself.

Only you know if your heart isn’t in it to dance anymore. You knew a long time ago that the that you don’t get out what you put in. That was the life you chose and from the sounds of it it has paid off for you. You are a professional dancer. You are what most of us aspire to be. We live through you.

So take the time to heal. Take the time to re-evaluate your life. But make sure whatever decision you make is one you can live with for the rest of your life.

I do sincerely wish you the best.

Roger

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Henrik July 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

You are right, the most important part of my decision is not because of the reasons I listed in the beginning, it is a choice I am making myself. But – and again, you are right – I need time to decide finally where to take the next step. Thank you for your kind wishes and good advice.
H

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Dancing Branflake July 2, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Sending you love. Hope you are well, my friend.

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Henrik July 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Thank you! :) I’m well, thank you! I’ll try to be a bit more active on Twitter now that I’m home and getting some routine back in my life. But now, my phone doesn’t want to work, so I’m without the constant link to the world – kind of annoying, kind of fantastic… :) Thank you for your wishes, I appreciate it! And how are you? :)
Hugs, H

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Monica W February 21, 2013 at 7:34 am

Just came across your website and wanted to wish you a smooth recovery. I really like your lighthearted yet informative posts. Hope you return to the world of ballet and blogging soon! Cheers!

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