Welcoming Back an Old Friend
I'm a dancer. Well, that used to be true anyway. Throughout my performing life I was always put into the dancer group. I was often placed front and center, made dance captain, I even delved into choreography for a little while. I was never the best of the best when it came to technique or skill, but I was great at retaining choreography and I danced from my heart 100% of the time. Dancing lifted me up; it freed me. I loved it.
If you watched me in dance class today, you would never imagine any of this. That's because six years ago I got injured. I was doing a jump in dance class and landed wrong, and in an instant my "dancer" status slipped away. I felt a snap in my foot like a giant rubber band tearing. I felt my foot bend backward beneath me, and the pain reverberate through my body. I was on the floor.
I laid there and heard the room grow silent. I'm still not sure if everyone actually stopped talking and the music was turned off, or if the world around me just disappeared. All I knew was that I was in excruciating pain and that my life as a dancer might be over.
Fast-forward 6 years. My foot is completely healed and has been for some time. Somehow, though, I still don't know what to say when asked in auditions if I'm a dancer. After the year of recovery I was scared to try again. I knew if I re-injured myself that would really be the end. And besides that, I was so nervous to get up in front of people and dance after a year away from training. Over the years I'd drop into a class or two, and I was called on to dance for shows every now and then, but I had replaced the joy it brought me with fear and insecurity.
Last week I decided to put my ego aside and start fresh. I found a great, unpretentious and relaxed studio in my neighborhood and went to every class that fit into my schedule. Some have been too advanced for me, and I look silly next to the pros. Some have been so easy that they remind me of my first classes as a child. And others still have been just the right amount of challenge.
I suppose I look like a beginner now, and my choreography retention rate is very low at this point, but none of that matters to me. What matters is that I'm getting re-acquainted with my old friend. It's going to be a slow and bumpy road back, but I'm very excited about the challenge. My hope is that, in a few months when I'm asked about my dancing skills in an audition, I can smile proudly and say without hesitation "yes, I'm a dancer!".
This picture was taken at my wedding during our "first dance",and it is the only time since my injury that I felt that same joy from dancing. But maybe that's because I had just gotten married, and all the champagne...