I was just your typical cute 3 year old with long arms and a nice head tilt.
I remember loving the tiny ballet slippers my mother had dyed gold for a recital.
My parents have a framed picture of my first recital in the living room.
10 years later I would be ashamed to dance.
I didn’t stop. I just hid it.
I danced in secret because I couldn’t not dance.
In my mid twenties I thought teaching aerobics would give me my dance fix. It didn’t.
Nia did. For almost 10 years it did. Recently I had an epiphany. I don’t have to be ashamed to dance.
I also don’t have to dance like anyone else.
I don’t have to dance according to someone else’s definition of dance or who can dance.
I don’t have to strap myself into a leotard and pink tights – a bit more like a circus act than a dressing experience.
I don’t have to take lessons.
I don’t have to speak French (though my father would argue!).
I don’t have to be a certain size. Or be a certain age.
I don’t have to remember patterns and sequences.
I don’t have to have a recital to wear a tu-tu!
I don’t have to have spine-splintering flexibility.
I can just dance.
No one needs to be ashamed to dance. Unless they choose to be.
Dance, for me, like perfume and spirituality is personal. All dance intrigues me, but not all dance connects.
A few Fridays ago, my adult “beginner” ballet class took wings and become an intermediate ballet class. I wasn’t ready. My mind understood, my brain was processing, but my brain-body connection was not ready to make all of the connections necessary to create (or produce) a logical movement statement.
I am learning a “new” language. A language I spoke at an earlier time in my life, but a language I stopped practicing to speak another that was less demanding in many ways.
Dance is a language and each style a dialect of its own.
I never imagined myself a performance dancer. I never imagined that I would dance with a company. I just wanted to dance. Going back into a ballet class has served me in a number of ways. Stepping back into that studio experience helped me to face and let go of the anxieties and disappointments of my childhood dance experience. And that allowed me get un-stuck. Entering the ballet studio, I no longer have to be the clumsy, painfully shy, overweight 13 year old frozen in time. Ballet is hard as hell and demanding, frequently elusive and heartbreakingly beautiful. I chose ballet because I’ve always loved it and because I wanted a new set of memories for ballet class.
It no longer matters what the angle of my turnout is in degrees. It no longer matters if my hair stays in place. I don’t hold my breath in horror when I miss a step, wishing only to disappear from the face of the earth. I giggle to myself or roll my eyes in the direction of my daughter (a better technical dancer by far) or when I do get frustrated, sigh and add it to my list of Take Home and Practice.
Dance, whether it has a title or is my own personal practice, offers a way to communicate in ways we simply do not have words for. Body Language at its clearest.
Dance belongs to all of us. It is the little extra perk that comes along with having movable joints!
Claim your gift.