For reasons I can’t name, you’ve been on my mind this morning.
I don’t know if I’ve ever talked to you about dance. I suppose it’s been present in our conversations in some way always, because to know me is to know my history with that art – spoken audibly or not, it’s evident in my every movement and action. I’ve been wrestling with my relationship with it for longer than I’ve consciously admitted. I was ready to give up my entire life, devote my entire existence to the service of an unforgiving beauty. Or, at least I thought so.
Instead, I found myself at twenty-five spirit-broken and scared…the people to whom I looked up were not who I wanted to become, the work to promote myself not the work I should have been doing. It felt wild and brave, but not wise or true.
And yet, I was terrified of leaving the physicality – would I know myself sans daily dance? Would I continue to be whole? I think it was C who asked me the first time I mentioned dance “how was it to leave something so physical to come back to school?” I didn’t have a conversational answer for her – a relationship wrought of weeping joy, laughing fear, humble wonder, and fleeting pride in which my whole self was enmeshed is not easily conveyed. I moved the conversation elsewhere.
It has now been over a year since I set foot in a ballet class, and six months since I last entered a dance studio. This weekend will mark the second birthday on which I have not danced in any formal way. Both of these numbers mark the longest period of time without either since I was five years old – twenty-two years ago. Am I still a dancer?
Not in the sense most conventional definitions require. Everything I do is part of a dance I am weaving forever – one that is enmeshed in my sense of self, instead of the other way around; as my friend A put it, “art” instead of “ART.” And I am still a mover – I still speak physically and am happiest when I can do so – on my own terms. I am deliciously sore from a ten-mile run and two-hour ultimate frisbee game yesterday; this coming weekend will mark the second birthday in a row where I have treated myself to a long, challenging trail race. I still wrestle with how different this looks, and with considering myself an everyday athlete and not a professional.
But the women by whom I find myself surrounded in this new iteration of my life – yourself included – are inhabitants of a life that I can feel myself enveloping, instead of being enveloped by a single facet of my existence and in its service only. There is, though hard to find in any work of passion, some balance there. It feels wise, brave, wild…and true.
And I’ll dance my way through it.