I was thinking to myself tonight, 'Why am I taking dance classes?' and 'Why do I dance?'
I am having to fight impulses to go to every class and compare myself to others and to hope that someone thinks I am good and asks me to join their company. Cause that isn't going to happen, and I don't want it to. But old performer habits are hard to break. "I need to be discovered! What about me? I am good, too!" Blech. Go away, impulses. Let's leave that stress behind and start to move onward.
So why do I do it? Well, first of all, it is fun. It is hard as shit, but I love it, and I smile and laugh during class. I also do it because it is a great stress reliever. Fuzzy and I watch a lot of dance shows, and we always make fun of the times when they need to "dance it out." Well, now if I have a crappy day, I dance it out. It works. Thirdly, it is GREAT exercise. I mean, seriously. It is an hour and a half of concentrated muscle focus, ab work, strengthening, balance, form, technique, sweating, sweating and sweating.
But on my walk home tonight, I realized that I do it cause it is 100% for me. It is the time in my day when I can clear my head, focus on my body, and feed my heart, soul and spirit with the thing that I have done my whole life. It is done with my purest instrument, I don't have to share it, worry about anyone else, or worry that someone is going to take away the feeling that I get when I am dancing, working, and in the moment. It doesn't matter if I am not a professional, or even that good. I do it cause it is what I want to do.
I also am dancing right now because it takes me back to my youth. I started dancing when I was 4 years old, and I danced solid for 14 years. I had a lot of injuries towards the end of it, so I only took classes here and there in college and after I moved to Chicago. But it was my first love--the one thing I wanted to do more than any other. I wanted to be a professional dancer. As I kept hurting myself, I started to focus on comedy and theatre more and more (I mean, I always did that, too, and choir), and my focus shifted from dance to comedy and improv. Thank God it did, cause I met my husband that way, and he is the best thing I have in my life. But getting back to it and going to 2 classes a week just feels good, and the movement comes semi-naturally to me. My body can go Aaaaahhhhh.
Tonight in class, my teacher (who I take both jazz and hip hop with) said "Your body is changing." He's right--I can feel myself getting stronger and now after class, I feel good and functional, whereas back when I started, I would feel sick and miserable and could barely move afterwards. He then asked, "Are you taking a lot of classes?" I told him "just yours" (which in hindsight isn't true--I've been taking ballet, too. I didn't mean to slight Ann-Marie, but I was balancing and struggling and I didn't have a lot of oxygen going to my brain and it just didn't make it out. It is hard to have a conversation when your calves and feet are cramping and you are trying to balance.) and then he said "Ok, then. You are working it." In a class full of serious dancers, that was great to hear. When I left for the evening, he said "Work it, girl."
I take classes to work it out.
On a separate topic, a few months ago, I was walking home from class, when an adorable old man was walking his dog and heading my direction. It was stupidly cold and there was snow piled up a couple feet, and I was miserable walking home sweaty and cold. This man looks at me and says, "Beautiful weather, don't you think?" It made me smile and change the way I was thinking. I agreed with him and chit chatted for a moment before heading on home, smiling the whole way and thankful for experiencing the night.
Tonight, it is a warm and clear gorgeous night. I was walking home wearing only a light jacket, and it was unzipped. I see an old man and his dog walking my way.
"You see what kind of moon you have up there, don't you? It's a Lil Abner moon!"
I laughed and asked if he remembered talking to me before and reminded him that he said he loved the cold.
"Oh, yes," he said.
I asked if he liked the Spring weather, too, and he nodded.
"I like it all," he said.
We chatted for a moment about how I am a Southern girl from Mississippi, but that now that I have been here for 10 years, I don't know how much longer I can use that as an excuse for not liking the cold.
He went on to tell me that he's traveled the world, and he loves everywhere he's been and all types of weather. He told me that he traveled with his wife, who had cancer and wanted to see the world before she died. That's exactly what they did. He said he has the best memories of her and everywhere they went.
I shared with him that I lost my dad to cancer 2 years ago, so I feel the same way. I want to see the world while I still have time. He told me that is what I have to do.
We talked a little while longer about our neighborhood, Chicago architecture, San Antonio, meeting our spouses in Chicago, and of course, Daisy Mae and the Lil Abner Moon.
His name is Peter. His dog's name is Angel.
I can't wait to run into him again after class.