In November 2009 I attended my last professional dance class. Over the past few days, as the previous decade came to a close and we welcomed the new one, I realized - I haven’t danced in a decade. I never thought it would be so long.
10 years without dancing... The realization hit me. If I was asked to live without dance when I was 20, I would have answered that it’s simply impossible. Dancing was everything. My entire life revolved around dancing.
But then things changed. Real life set in, and so did my injuries. Dancing became uncomfortably laborious and my dreams seemed to drift further away. So in a swift and seemingly rational resolve, I stopped my professional dance training and went down the more conventional route of getting a degree. I promised I would still dance for fun. But how could I just dance for fun? How could such a significant part of my life be demoted to just fun? Instead, I moved on and didn’t look back. But as the saying goes - things are easier said than done.
Every dancer knows how tricky it is to leave Dance. It is like leaving a part of yourself behind. Like denying your soul of its first true love. So while my body was not dancing, I was still dancing in my mind. I still imagined choreographies to every song I heard. I still had dreams of endless pirouettes and weightless jumps which felt like flying. My dynamic inner world was sharply contrasted by a motionless outer world. Because in the world of design, standing or sitting at a work table is the main activity. So I continued pushing through and dedicated a collection to dance instead.
But it didn’t help. At some point standing still became more painful than the discomfort of dancing with injuries. My body was still fighting and was restless. Someone suggested I tried yoga. Yoga helped, immensely. Through yoga, I learned how to breathe; an idea that is horribly ignored in dance training. I learned that my body is communicating with me, that I should stop fighting it and kindly listen to it (another idea horribly ignored in dance training). Through yoga, I finally reconciled with my body. Through yoga, my body grew quiet. I still didn’t dance though.
Last September, I was asked last minute to fill in for a dancer in a photoshoot. Wanting to help out, I reluctantly agreed. I felt like a fraud; I didn’t dance for ten years… how could I expect my body to properly move and perform?
This photograph arrived in my inbox a few days later. When I saw it, I finally realized - my body didn’t forget. I was the one who forgot. And this entire time, my body was just trying to wake me up and make me remember. Sure, I still see many imperfections and my body was sore for days later. But I no longer care, because I danced. I have reclaimed my wings, and my heart is souring free to the sky. So next week, when I step back into the dance studio, I will no longer search for improvement in the mirror, but I will focus on the feeling of motion in my body. This decade I will dance.
I normally don’t share things from my personal life easily. But 10 years without dance have taught me three important things: First, there are parts of ourselves that we can never deny. Second, the information we need to find them is communicated everywhere if we learn to stop, listen, and look for it. We can begin by listening to our own selves through our bodies, and when we are lost in translation, stories can help. And third, when I don’t dance, I like sharing stories. Good stories make us stop and listen. Stories can always be used to help us reclaim the lost parts of ourselves. We instinctively find ways to relate to a story, and if we focus our attention on the point of relation we can discover valuable information. When I stop to listen (or read) I notice that I have been moved by many stories shared by my friends throughout the years. Stories are always around. So if a story can help someone with finding a key to a lost part of themselves, sharing it would always be worthwhile.