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(Not So) Tiny Dancer

Friday, April 12, 2013

Once upon a time, about 150 pounds ago, I was a dancer. I met my best friend in dance class. I learned confidence and independence in dance class. I learned to express myself in dance class. I learned the power and the limitations of my body in dance class, and I learned that I could be graceful and beautiful.

My best friend now teaches at the high school we attended, and she heads the dance arts program there, which is where we met. Twice a year, her students perform in their end-of-course dance concert, and for as long as she's been teaching there, I've been stage managing her shows.

Twice a year she and I reunite in our dancing glory days re-enactment and tell a bunch of high school kids how to turn out and to point their toes and go over count after count after count with them. Twice a year, I get to enjoy the looks of surprise on the kids faces when they see that despite my current size, I can still do the splits and I can still do battements that go above my waist without skewing my hips. Twice a year, I experience this INCREDIBLE yearning to move and make art with my body. Twice a year, I fall completely in love with music as the visual and the sound come together and inevitably catch me completely off guard.

One of the pieces in the show this semester, which we're performing this weekend, is to Ingrid Michaelson's version of "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You." (I'll pause, while you go find it on You Tube, because maybe my ramblings will make a little more sense). The song itself is pretty, to be sure. But then I watch the dancers on stage - their spines moving and their bodies contracting as if they're BREATHING this song, and it just becomes so much more than the music alone. The movement is at times literal - acting out the lyrics of the song - and at times completely earthy modern dance movement, and it's just... incredible. I've seen the piece at least 20 times this week alone, and every single time we run the show, when we get to this piece, I get chills and I tear up.

You see, I think this piece has become - in my mind - my opus to dance. To my healthy body. To movement and music and love and life and I know I sound cheesy and hippie-ish and crunchy right now, but this is what dance does to me. It roots me, and it melts me.

And when I hear the slow, percussive piano notes ring out, and SEE the anticipation of the next note that you can so clearly hear in the song, my breath catches and my anticipation builds, and I want to be out there moving with the dancers. I want to be celebrating the things I love by throwing my whole body into them.

Every time I do one of these shows, I can't help falling in love with dance.


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
JENNIK2 4/18/2013 1:29PM

    Sounds beautiful! You should start dancing again, even if it's just in your living room.

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PRETTYPITHY 4/13/2013 3:35PM

    I'm passionate about dance. I do it every day. I was much larger when I started and am still not so tiny. But it makes me feel weightless. :)

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MOTHEPRO 4/12/2013 4:13PM

    Wow! It sounds beautiful!

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HIDDENRUNES 4/12/2013 1:23PM

    I loved this entry! I too was a dancer several years and many many pounds ago. I so know what you mean. I love the way bodies move in dance. It's still my favorite form of exercise, I feel so grounded yet airy and connected to my body. Love!

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SHINING_ON 4/12/2013 2:34AM

    Erin, I got goosebumps reading this. For a moment, I was breathing with you and with them. Once upon a time, oh so many moons ago, I too was a dancer. I remember it, even if I can't really do it any more.

Cherish your body. Love the skin you're in. It's the only one you have. Preserve your abilities. I wish I did. But rather than lament my losses, instead I'm just going to keep working back to where I once was. I used to have a dancer's body, but I didn't have a dancer's body image. One day, I'll have both.

Very beautifully written, friend. Just what I needed as I was waking up (yes, waking) after a brief nap for a full night of work in my final push to my PhD thesis proposal (next week!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh!). Thank you so much for sharing.

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DJ4HEALTH 4/12/2013 2:12AM

    It is great that you love dancing and you should do it at home because that is also a great way to lose weight too.

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PINKEUROGIRL 4/12/2013 12:56AM

    Sounds inspiring

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ADAPTOR 4/12/2013 12:48AM

    If you love dance, you should dance. Dance until you are so happy, you cry. Be a part of that breath.

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FLEMIDG 4/12/2013 12:47AM

    It is great that you get to spend time with the dancers and enjoying what you do. I can see how you would fall in love with dance.

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