As some of you may know, I’ve danced for about eighteen years of my life. For a 25 year old, that’s a huge part of my life that’s for the most part gone now. I still do a random pirouette here and there around the house and dance around any open space I can find but I don’t take classes anymore. Right now I think I’ve found it in myself to finally accept that I am most likely never going to be a dancer. I know some of you may say “umm duhh Carla” but there’s something addictive about dance that always keeps that hope alive in you.
When I was 16 I stopped dancing for a year. Between being sick a lot and stress from exams I needed a break and it was good for me. It gave me a chance to see how much I really missed it, and I really did. The year after when I started back dancing it was just one class a week, a jazz class, to get back in the swing of it. That made two years of no ballet classes and it was KILLING me. I would watch what would’ve been my class and seriously wish I could jump in with them. When I finally did start back ballet classes, it took me that full year to feel confident enough to do an exam the following year and it was my highest exam mark ever. During that time not thinking about exams I was really only dancing for my own enjoyment and basically told myself that whatever they saw was what they would get. I became somewhat selfish with my dancing which turned into me getting some positive feedback that I wasn’t really used to.
After I did that ballet exam, Grade 7 RAD, something changed. I started hearing “classical” in some of my feedback which I wasn’t used to hearing. I was always known as the free movement type of dancer and I really liked the change, so much so that it became my new reason to dance. Once that started the joy I felt from dancing dimmed a little. Ballet became frustrating and I felt like I was fighting with my body. My feet weren’t doing what I wanted them to and flexibility was becoming difficult. That lead to my lowest exam score ever and I knew then that even though I loved to dance, it wasn’t going to be my profession. Somehow once I accepted this a boat load of pressure was off of me and I was able to enjoy ballet and dance again. There were no more expectations of what I should be doing or comparing myself to others as much as before. I was able to say my goodbye to that level of dancing on my own terms and with the greatest of memories. There wasn’t so much of a sadness but just being grateful for how I was able to walk away from it.
After going to New York I took a class here and there but what I found was I was trying to get back to the old dancer me instead of just dancing for the fun of it so I stopped taking classes. At times it just felt unhealthy to work through a class like that but more than that it was frustrating and I didn’t want to go back into ballet frustrated. I wanted my memory of ballet to be a good one. For exercise I dove into pilates since it was the closest I could find to working the same muscles as ballet did and its been great. I’m not the same size as before which took a lot of getting used to but nothing is going to be the same as dancing 5 to 6 days a week. I also found that I’m actually quite good at teaching a little bit of ballet technique, at least to my cousin. Through helping her I found that my turnout was still there in full force (thank you God!) and I was really making a difference in her dancing technique. In those moments of watching her improve I felt that same joy I used to feel when I was dancing.
As anyone else would, I still get those moments when I really miss it but I now do so many other things that I know that it wouldn’t be the same and I guess it shouldn’t be. So for now and for my sanity, I say goodbye to dancing, not dance.