Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The History of Dance (as it pertains to my life)

So. In a previous life I danced. When I define myself, to myself, I am still a dancer. Though it has been over 7 years since I've done it with any regularity, it feels so essentially a part of me.

I am not a professional dancer. I am not a highly trained or even a highly skilled dancer. But it's who I am, it's what I do.

When I was a child, being shuffled between divorced parents' homes, I wished I could take dance lessons. This is what we did instead:

(My sister would kill me if she knew I was posting this, since her leotard is completely worn and see-thru. Since this is relatively anonymous I'm doing it anyway. I think it's adorable, myself. I am the shrimpy one in the middle, wearing the Star Trek shirt (yes, I am as baffled as you are!).)

We were always putting on performances: plays, dance routines, roller skating shows. I guess that's what you do when your family consists of enough girls for a decent corps de ballet and little parental involvement... There were several brief periods of formal training in my childhood, paid for mostly by services traded by my mom with one of her friends. Swimming lessons for others traded for dancing lessons for us; piano lessons for others traded for sewing lessons for us; you get the gist. I remember my mom teaching a music/movement class (and brief piano lessons for me), and I remember learning tap from someone else. I did get about 5 summers of real gymnastics classes in the university summer camps. Within those classes I had a weekly (monthly? I can't remember.) ballet class. We also learned contradancing as we got older, because it was something my mom loved to do and we did it with her. But for the most part, my childhood dance experience was amateur at best.

My sophomore year of high school, we moved from a rural farming community in the great plains to a sleepy bedroom community in the mountain west. My new high school was over twice the size of my old high school (in population), and included one less year of students (9-12 grades for my old school; 10-12 for the new). The new school offered three dance classes and even had a dance company (not just drill team and cheerleaders!). I saw the dance company perform at assemblies, games, pep rallies. I was amazed and dreamed of joining them. I enrolled myself in a beginning modern dance class. As part of the class, we choreographed and performed a dance in the spring concert. Some of my classmates were already in the company, and some others of us decided to audition. By some strange miracle, I passed through the first round of auditions and into the second, and then by an even bigger miracle, I actually made it into the company.

I danced with my high school's company for my remaining two years of high school. I performed in hundreds of dances and at dozens of venues. I traveled to New York City and Los Angeles. I took classes from members of some of the most famous companies in the country. It was truly the best part of my adolescence.

In college, I continued. I pursued a modern dance minor (which I fell just a few classes short of getting, because I couldn't fit two of the requisite classes into my work+school schedule). I also branched out and took several ballet classes, a few jazz classes, a tap class, a folk dance class, and a ballroom dance class. When I graduated from college in 2003, I felt like I was at my best as a dancer.

I continued with a few community classes of ballet and jazz and even belly dancing, I returned to perform at my old high school once, and I even taught the youth in my area a dance which they performed for tens of thousands of people in commemoration of a special local event.

And then I stopped. I got pregnant, I had a baby, I had another baby, and I just never quite found my way back to dancing.

Until now. I'm doing it again and I am still a dancer and I feel so good.

This year marks my high school dance company's twentieth year (and my former dance teacher's twentieth year as company director), and she is having as many as her alumni as possible come back and dance in a few alumni pieces.

I am out of shape and out of practice, but I am loving every minute of it.


Tiffany said...

That's so cool!!! It is so much fun to find your way back!! I enjoyed reading about your journey! I've found my way back to Rollerblading...and the joy!!!

diane26 said...

Yay for you! I always begged for ballet lessons when I was younger sadly though we were short on funds.

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