February 3, 2009

Well…I’m working my way back after being away from the studio for over seven months (I had a baby girl in June!). Though the time passed quickly, I had been slowly morphing into a different person. 

Those of you who have been sidelined for a long time with an injury must know how I feel. My body has changed (for obvious reasons): my muscles are weak, I cramp easily, my sense of balance is a bit off, and my feet work as well as dead floppy fish. But despite these challenges, I am grateful for the ability to just MOVE!

With a huge belly, I couldn’t quite access the right muscles for ballet. I loved being pregnant but I missed the feeling of flying across the floor, losing myself in the music, devouring space, and testing my body’s limits. I realize now that I took for granted the physicality that used to come easy – I hadn’t appreciated my ability to control a landing or to do a simple series of releves on one leg. That old cliché is true: you don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone! Now, as I try to rebuild my technique, my expectations have changed. Instead of striving for unattainable perfection and driving myself crazy with self-criticism, I’ve rediscovered the simple joy of dancing. I’ve rediscovered my love for expressive movement. My instrument might be rusty and soft but my desire to enjoy myself has never been stronger. 

I am sharing all of this with you because I believe that a dance career is too short to sweat the small stuff. Learn from my experience…live in the moment. Be kind to yourself. This week I returned to the stage in Twyla Tharp’s “Push Comes to Shove,” a difficult, fun-loving piece that mocks traditional ballet and reflects my current mindset – work hard but keep a sense of humor. Dance like no one is watching. Love what you do. Never lose the excitement you felt as a baby beginner. Have fun. After all, isn’t that why we all started dancing in the first place?!