THE SEQUEL: MY ADVANCED II EXAMINATION
****Warning… this is a very long read, so go grab a snack and a drink, get cozy, and please enjoy!
P.S. If you don’t want to read this long post (because I do realize that people do have better things to do), scroll all the way down for the Vlog!
So, I took my Advanced II exam nearly a week ago. Honestly speaking, it was one of the most exciting, disappointing, fun, interesting, and aggravating experiences I’ve had in dance.
Starting from the beginning, I walked in confidently. The examiner was so kind and so sweet, and the pianist who played for me was the pianist I had from my graded exams! (Intermediate Foundation and the levels after are called vocational exams) I love my pianist… she’s one of the nicest, fiercest, determined person I know. Having her there in my exam was an honor and a gift.
Barre was good. I kept it simple and as my teachers advised, I didn’t over-decorate the movements. I added bits of personality when I felt the music speak to me.
Center Work was also very good and quite honestly went better than I expected it to go. I tried interacting with the examiner, inviting her into the world I was imagining. I also included the pianist, and when I made eye contact with her, she would smile back. I have to say that this portion was so much fun and I genuinely enjoyed it.
Pointe Work was when things began to fall to pieces. If you guys watched my Mock Exam Vlog, you would know that the shoes I’ve been wearing for the past three years were discontinued, so I had to switch to a completely different brand and a completely different shoe.
I noticed my struggle at rises. Rises! The easiest exercise in the entire exam was one of my worst struggles. My left shoe would buckle backwards, forcing me from the tips of my toes to the ball of my foot. Keep in mind, this was only on my left foot and my left shoe. Continuing to the next and last barre exercise, I again had a tremendous struggle. I chose to keep my shoulders open, stomach as tight as possible, chin up, and smiled. I straightened my legs as hard as I could, feeling like my calves and hamstrings and quads were about to snap.
After barre, the examiner graciously asked what was wrong with my shoes. I told her what had happened, and she even (so kindly and compassionately, might I add) asked if I had another pair of pointe shoes in my dance bag. Very unfortunately, I did not, but the show must go on.
It was the first enchainment that I realized going onto pointe was even dangerous, as I rolled my ankle on the first echappé. I took a deep breath, and on my right leg which had a shoe still intact, I balanced for long, having to go from pointe on my right foot to demi pointe on my left. I had to show her that I could dance on pointe. I chose to do everything I could, and doing everything on demi pointe was not an option for me.
I knew third enchainment was going to be difficult. As the examiner graciously offered me long breaks, I turned to the back wall and whispered, “should I give up? Should I just concede and do everything on demi pointe? I can’t even turn properly.” I immediately heard “don’t give up.”
I’d like to say the ghost of Mr. Pegler appeared, smiling kindly and seemed to whisper, “It’s in the past.” I took a deep breath and looked up to the uncovered window. I happened to be in the perfect position to see four words: “Always Fight. Never Settle.” I chuckle quietly and decided that I would do everything I could to keep going. Third enchainment I knew was poorly done, as I couldn’t hop on pointe, releve, or fouette.
For the turning sequence, I went from pointe on my right foot to demi pointe on my left foot and continued the turns, and closing my legs together and gripping my muscles as hard as I could, I turned on one foot, giving the illusion that I was doing the correct step.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, it wasn’t the correct step. In fact, I’m not even sure if it’s an existing step.
I played with the music, giving the movements character and making the upper body simple, elegant, and dramatic when necessary. I did my best to be in time with the music, and I included the examiner and pianist in the performance. When the exam was finished, I walked out with confidence.
Walking out of the exam, I surprisingly didn’t feel like ripping off my shoes and throwing them as hard as I could across the studio. I was calm, collected, and although very disappointed, I felt somehow optimistic. Honestly though, I’m on a tipping point— I have a 50/50 chance of failing the exam. And honestly, I’m at peace with that.
I posted this on my private FB the next morning:
“I never do this, but I want to say how proud of myself I am. Yesterday’s exam did not quite go as planned, but something great came of it. I come from a family of fighters. We don’t give up. Yesterday, I realized what it means to be strong. It’s not hiding your feelings or sweeping them under a rug. It’s embracing them and learning that you don’t have to face them on your own. I love how I can whisper the name of Jesus and he will take the burden of frustration and negativity away. Even if I flunk the exam, I know that I’m not a failure, because I believe that I passed with flying colors by not letting the things the went wrong hinder me. I’m incredibly proud of myself. And I want to thank everyone who has been beside me in this process. ❤️”
I want to say thank you to all of you who read and watch my content, for those of you who message me and call me with words of encouragement. I’m so thankful for the support I get from everyone who views my content.
I also want to say thank you to my very patient parents and siblings for being so supportive through this process as well. Thank you to my Mom & Dad for all the driving you did (and still do!) for me, for supporting me and encouraging me and pushing me to become not only a better dancer or performer, but a better person in the process. Thank you to Eric & Jess & Zoey for coming over to watch the little siblings each week and also supporting, encouraging, and pushing me to be who I am destined to be! Thank you also to my mentor for praying for me constantly and for encouraging me to be a better version of myself. I love you family with all my heart.
And of course, special thank you to my teachers Ms. Jana, Ms. Andrea and Mr. Pegler for all the time and effort you have poured into me. I am truly honored to have such amazing people as mentors and inspirations and to constantly learn something from all of you.
Thank you to my friend Renée for constantly telling me to chill out and making me laugh whenever I’m with her. You inspire me so much and I’m so blessed to have you as one of my closest friends. Thanks for looking out for me! I missed sharing a towel with you 😉
And thank you to my LABA family for supporting me as well: the teachers & my friends. I love you all.
I know this was a really long blogpost, so if you’ve read the whole thing, leave me a comment telling me you have, because that would mean a whole ton to me.
Cheers to more adventures, cheers to the future.
Always Fight. Never Settle.
Sung Eun Rose
Click here if you want to see last year’s examination Vlog!