Midnight Musings

Published by Erica on

I’ve often wondered what others see when they see me dance. Do I look goofy? Do I look elegant? Do I look like I’m embodying the dance I’m doing, or do I just look like a body doing a set of dictated movements? 

I’ve often wondered this, especially as I’ve gotten older and done so many different styles of dance. At some point in college I realized – quite vividly – that the dancer in my mind’s eye is WAY better than the physical one I actually am in real life. I think I became resigned to that fact many years ago. And honestly, that’s okay. I like to think it’s my spirit dancing, and one day I’ll have the body that won’t limit all that glorious movement. 

As the years have progressed, I’ve become more limited. Time marches on, and the machine that is the body must be maintained more rigorously over time to keep all the range of motion and fluidity that once came so easily. No wonder professional dancers phase out young. I’m not even that good, but even I can recognize that there are natural limits, or at least increasing prices to pay to keep the limits at bay. 

As a senior in high school, I wrenched out my knee cap. Anyone who has had knee issues knows that knee cap problems are just as rough and painful as knee joint problems. It’s never gone away. It doesn’t have as much “spring” in it. It doesn’t bend as far as I would like. And it tends to feel funky when it does. That injury happened ten years ago in October. 

I’ve rolled both ankles a few times, though surprisingly less than one might imagine for a dancer. In 2009 I turned my left ankle quite severely. I managed to hobble around, although I did go get x-rays. Then in May I sprained my right ankle. Very badly. All my grown up body weight landed on it, and only it, from a lift in the air. I couldn’t walk for three days. It was swollen for almost two months. It still hurts on occasion, still is a bit more swollen than it should be, and still has some distinct reduction in range of motion. 

I miss being a whole, physically capable dancer. I suppose I could have always worked harder and maintained more of my ballet skills and flexibility, achieved greater precision and technique in my feet, and developed better stamina and stage presence. I feel like I’ve matured mentally and become a better and better dancer as I’ve aged, but in some respects I’ve lost ground too. I may be able to characterize and portray better,  but only so far as my increased physical limitations will allow. 

I realize I’m not some decrepit old lady. I realize that I still perform on a dance team and will most likely find many more ways to continue dancing. But today I found out I didn’t make an audition, which in past years I have made. I know they are changing direction and drastically reducing their cast size from previous years. I know there is really no sane or healthy way that I could have done that, clogging, and fulfilled my calling without sacrificing something. Given some of my past struggles with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s surely for the best for me to have a little downtime. But then perhaps I hid those and you didn’t know I had struggles. 

I love to dance. I’m sad tonight that a door is shut. I know many  more doors and windows will be open to me still. I want to dance forever. I’ve danced longer than many people, and I’m impressed with the women I dance with now who have been at it even longer than I have! Perhaps I will be like them, if I can get my aging brain to hang on to choreography like it used to. If I can get my body to do what it’s supposed to. If I can have a stage to fill with beautiful movement, with lights and music. For the love of dance…

1 Comment

Sarah Jensen · September 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm

This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing! I am sorry for the sadness you may have felt with that audition, but I know great opportunities will come your way with your willingness to share that beautiful gift. I just have to say, you are a gorgeous dancer!!!! You always are beautiful when you dance, and when you aren't dancing. I was always a little sad that I didn't try more types of dancing. I only did clogging, which I love very much. However, it isn't in my area where I live. I can teach. But I have taken this time to try to develop in other ways, and great blessings have come from it. I am learning that people are there that need MY help, and only the help that I can render them at the time that we have met. I have learned that my fingers can learn to play the piano if I will allow them to. I have learned that I have other passions. I hope to dance my whole life too. But when I am not physically dancing, I hope to keep the motto to "just keep dancing" and enjoy this beautiful journey of life. I love and miss you!

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