Imagine the feeling you have when the sun hits your cheeks, warming them on a particularly brisk morning walk. Now, call to mind the burst of juicy goodness when you bite into that perfect summer ripe peach, its initial tartness smacking your tastebuds awake just in time to give way to the glorious sweetness of the nectar. Finally, recall a time when you felt like you were flying, whether you were on the drop of a roller coaster, airborne from nailing that rad sledding jump you built with your siblings or sticking your head out of the back seat window on a country road drive.
My life in dance encapsulates all those feelings and manages to reproduce them in limitless combinations. But what happens when life beyond the stage becomes incredibly unpredictable, as it inscrutably has as of late? What becomes of our post-lockdown commitment and vigor towards a better system when, after the curtain falls on our first performances back, we feel the sting of a world that just wants to snap back to “normal”? I know that I am not the same person I was in 2020, and I certainly am thankful for the growth. But I won’t lie that the sunburn blisters hurt, as much as the sweet-sounding yet empty lip service that touts change is hard to swallow.
As you may know, experiencing the life-affirming zest of adrenaline is one of my preferred states of being. But that adrenaline can also induce the most sensational fear. Fear that perhaps change is not what gatekeepers want. Fear that, perhaps, all we have individually done is not enough. Fear that with every minor shutdown, time keeps ticking away. Will it run out for me and my career?
At the end of the day when I weigh all the fantastically wonderful and the incredibly putrid aspects of our world, the scale in my mind tips toward hope. I am, after all, an unabashed romantic. My life, our lives as artists, has always embraced the wildness of the unpredictable.
I’m thankful for my discipline, honed from my very first ballet class. And I turn to dance now, and most likely will again and again until the very last moment my vessel will allow me to, because that’s one way, through pent-up social anxiety and PTSD, I am able to reconnect to the experience of living. The practice of dance has saved my life many times over. Sharing my gift with audiences has heightened and expanded its healing reach. My relationship with dance has taught me more about life and being present than I ever imagined it would. And as I enter the next chapter of my artistic exploration, I’m certain dance and its lessons will be right there with me.
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