I facilitated a zine making workshop yesterday with a group of rad eight-year olds at Girls Rock Camp, and the project was called “I am, I believe”. One of the campers asked herself aloud “What am I?” then she turned to face me and repeated the question; what am I?
I couldn’t answer for her but for myself I can say the following: I am brown. I am a girl. I am forever dancing in my soul, mind, heart, and physical being until my body has worn itself down. Last year, I experience a kind of emotional bankruptcy that some people never recover from. I sat in my group therapy class wondering if I’d be like this, sad and anxious, forever. The fear of those feelings being my permanent disposition, I decided to take suggestions and one of those suggestions was to take a dance class. For the last ten years I’ve taken dance off and on, but made excuses as to why I couldn’t afford to continue dancing because of time, money, and the way my thighs look stuffed in spandex. Left with little options as to how to get out of my spiritually crippling emotional state I took a drop-in dance class at a local studio and prayed for immediate relief.
Then I had to get realistic. Maybe dance wouldn’t relieve me of my woes immediately, maybe I was going to really suck and this whole thing would be over before it started. As I mimicked stretching like the other dancers (I was so self-conscience thinking everyone was looking at me, I considered announcing to class that I was lost and not to follow me) when I remember to breathe. I reminded myself that I was here to get better on the inside and not the outside. I would not be good. I would not be graceful. I would not look like the girl in the front line with perfect point and a skinny waist. I will fumble. I would sweat buckets and be a disgusting mess. I will forget steps. I will be imperfect in every way. So I came up with a little mantra that went like this; I will dance. I will dance without judgement of myself. I will dance without judgement of everyone else. I will dance because it brings me joy.
Dance has indeed brought me joy. A year later, I am a dancer. I’m a dancer because I say I am. Also, I still fumble, sweat buckets with mascara running under my eyes, look like a stuffed sausage in spandex shorts, and forget choreography at every class. I have a full-time life with work, a boyfriend, family, friends, as well as volunteering at a youth program for girls. Instead of looking at my life as working full-time and dancing, I am a full-time dancer that has to work.
In a year, I’ve had one informal performance, one performance in a showcase, and last night I attended my very first audition for a company. I intend to use this platform as a diary, sound board, spirit animal, and place to talk about all things that make dance greatness. Come with me and remember not to follow me because I’m lost too. Oh yeah, I got a position in the company.