I spent most of my life training in *different forms of dance, and while it definitely left me with great posture, musicality, and turned out feet, I’m not going to the club anytime soon to whip out a quasi-fabulous routine that ends in a lift. I will, however, ride piggyback if we go on a long walk.
My dancing days are mostly behind me, and my current go-to moves consist of “the gas pump,” “top heavy robot,” “swat the fly,” “finger disco” and “fall down a flight of steps.” So, things are decidedly less elegant than they used to be. But dance did bless me in many ways.
Like drumming, tap dance teaches you to hear what lies between the notes, the rhythm beneath the melody. There are even times when, miraculously, tap enables you to hear music where there is none at all, and you can compose to the sound of creaky floorboards and dripping faucets. Plus it postpones frostbite in your feet – a useful skill at bus stops on cold days.
My personality is very un-ballet. I’m 30% awkward panda, 30% unidentifiable rage, 35% bubbles, and 5% mashed potatoes. Yet, ballet was probably my favorite style. Ballerinas dance through serious pain. It’s a battlefield, and behind tulle skirts and pink satin are blisters and broken bones, all in the effort to appear totally effortless – to suffer and be strong. If I didn’t have that mindset, I would have given up a long time ago. It’s not easy. Neither is wearing tights and a leotard after eating a Big Mac.
If I hadn’t practiced contemporary dance, I wouldn’t be a writer. Contemporary tells a story through movement and music. To the observer, a writer is silent and still, but inside their head is tempo and a choreographed routine – one that gets scrapped again and again to achieve the right balance.
Jazz usually involves a lot of floor work, and you get banged up. After a while, it gave me a borderline weird obsession with my bruises. They became badges. I think because of that, I tend to collect bruises and harbor pride in ***old injuries, because they are proof of risks taken and goals achieved.
Finally, dance blessed me with one last thing…incomparable baby photos.
*I also Scottish danced for years. I quit because we were going to perform to a bagpipe version of Shania Twain’s Man, I Feel Like a Woman. It felt like a line I didn’t want to cross.
**Years of awkward dressing rooms and quick changes also taught me how to get naked without getting naked. Meaning, if necessary, I can change my entire outfit in public without getting arrested for indecent exposure.
***Less fortunate things dance gave me: Bunions, a bum hip that pops in and out of place, and knees that snap like a doo-wop group.