I have had a love hate relationship with dance over the last 20 years – I loved dance, but hated that I was constantly trying to conform to a perfect image and level that despite my efforts (and blood and sweat and tears and therapy) could never quite attain…
Now I still love dance but hate that I can’t keep up the way I used to and hate that I hated myself when I was so much better than now (still pretty sure this is someone’s hilarious karmic lesson on me). At the end of the day, I still love dance. I can tell when I haven’t had class available, when I’ve taken a break, it’s my stress reliever, my way to express passion, a way to connect with amazing individuals around the world, and now after all these years – and though I have shaped its role in my life into one that does not involve pink tights and generally ignores my lack of extensions – I want dance to be part of my life forever. It’s just who I am.
Even though I was MUCH quieter as a child, when I wanted to do something my mom would discuss it with me and make sure it was for the right reasons (i.e. no I could not quit everything to be a kick boxer because it was not actually doing Taebo as a profession), and if it was reasonable and I wanted it, I could do it. I never exactly wanted to be the same as everybody else. I either liked something and it made sense to me or it didn’t. Now that I am older and less quiet, my poor mother has to experience the full wrath of these opinions, but I am so grateful she fostered them.
I will never forget the first year my studio had its first Nutcracker. I had already performed with the tour of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s production in the battle scene and I was in awe of being on stage with the company members (not to mention rehearsal process, the costumes, back stage life, etc). Well I auditioned for my school’s production and got cast as a gum drop. Like literally walk on stage for three minutes in a big fluffy gum drop suit while the “preferred” dancers in my age group got to be mini sugar plum fairies. Mmmm how ’bout no. I wanted to go back and try out for Pittsburgh again – the wrath of my studio was probably upon me, but I was not into waddling in a gum drop costume (I’d like to note I have done a number of bizarre roles, but this was the only one I had in the show and it specifically hit me that our group was separated between favorites and well, gum drops). Long story short, I got to be The Oldest Grandchild in the Party Scene with Pittsburgh Ballet and the year after that I was a Polichinelle (the clown kids that run out from under the big skirt in act 2). I did eventually start doing the Nutcracker with my studio with a diverse number of roles (including crossing the stage with a fish head in a school of fish – yup tell me where the under the sea scene is the Nutcracker….), but having the chance to be a part of Pittsburgh’s production was the experience of a lifetime for my little 7-9 year old self. I wanted it, I clearly was able to land the part, and I had the support to say “screw the norm” and go for it!
When I make up my mind on doing something, it’s really hard to change it. But I often wonder if I didn’t have the confidence that my mom was behind those decisions all those years, would I have gone for it after all? It’s a tough world out there with a lot of people making you feel crazy for your decisions…and that brings me to why I started this post a lot of rambling ago.
This article had me thinking about how many times when I was younger I said I would never let my children dance. I said that because it was at the phase where the hate part of the relationship included constantly hating myself because of the environment I was in. I have since learned how many ways dance is good and can promote life in people. I think everyone should experience the joy in dance, and if I ever have kids I hope I can expose them to enough to waltz at their own weddings. But more importantly I’d want to help them follow whatever they are passionate about. Your children or friends or family might surprise you with what they want to pursue, but it is all part of the journey…this article is great because this mother just points out that nothing ever works out the way you probably planned it, but don’t squash someone’s dreams for it. No one deserves to have their passions squashed.
Thanks Mama 🙂