Friday, August 6, 2010
Dancing to a different (heart) beat
Over the past few weeks, emails have flooded my inbox regarding my dance journey. What began as a friendly challenge to get fit, cure writer's block and tap into a different kind of creative energy has morphed into something bigger, something more intimate than I ever imagined possible.
And to be truthful, it's overwhelming.
Of the hundreds (thank you!) of emails, many people have expressed gratitude for inspiring them to step outside of their comfort zones. And a larger contingent have congratulated me on my courage.
I didn't feel very brave last night.
J'Adore Dance cultivates a safe, inspirational and fun place to learn. Women (and the occasional guy) of all shapes and sizes can sweat it out on the dance floor, without fear of being judged. The writer in me can't help but observe the various commitment levels of my dancing peers - the women who flail their arms with abandon, the girls who hold back, the dancers who feel the beat, and those of us who are reminded weekly of our two left feet.
Everyone is not watching me. But I am - and sometimes, I can't get past that image in the mirror. The frumpier, uncoordinated Dawn.
Last night was one of those nights.
An hour before the first of two classes, I sat at my kitchen table mediating a conversation between the angel and devil on each of my shoulders.
Tell Jessica you had to work late.
No, that would be lying and you respect her too much for that.
Tell her you don't have the energy to try Old School Hip Hop.
But you made a commitment.
Pretend you lost track of time.
And then that's all you'll think about all night. Why put yourself through that?
In the end, the angel won - but not with a clear victory. En route to class, I got caught in a traffic jam and considered turning around. As the clock ticked closer to start time, I worried I wouldn't make it there before someone slipped into my coveted back-row spot. And just when the devil on my shoulder had given me one more excuse to just go home, I called Sue and asked her to talk me through my fears.
If you've read my dance posts then you know this: I always have fun. I love being surrounded by inspirational women, and instructors who are committed to helping me grow as a dancer, but also as a person. And selfishly, I've enjoyed reconnecting with Jessica, and can't help but be proud of the life she has built for herself by following her passion, chasing that dream.
And yet, every morning, I wake with a bubble of insecurity. As the day progresses, that bubble expands, sometimes into anticipation and excitement, but often with fear. Most days I can quash it, remind myself that this journey I'm on is helping me in so many ways. But last night, that bubble grew until it almost choked me with dread.
Jessica often asks us at the end of class to focus on the one thing we did well - and forget the rest. Last night, I focussed on surviving. (If that sounds dramatic, join me next session...)
Old School Fit Hop is hard. Jessica choreographed a routine that was like interval training. Instead of weights, we did the Roger Rabbit, and the Running Man, and criss-crossed to Ice Ice Baby. (Do you remember Vanilla Ice?) I loved the music, and even rejoiced in learning some of the steps. But for some reason, the bubble in my chest never truly went away and by the time we finished class, hot and sweaty and gasping for air, I considered going home instead of pushing through Naughty Hotties.
But there was Jessica, with her pep talk and brilliant smile, listening while I lamented about a crappy, emotional day. She did not judge when I said my breakfast, lunch and dinner consisted of pizza. And she didn't flinch when I confessed to going home after Salsa Burn and eating a bowl of ice cream. How could I not stay?
EROTICA didn't make an appearance at Naughty Hotties. Though the Lady Marmalade chair dance is absolutely fun - and sexy if you understand the concepts - it was definitely ME struggling through those steps and insecurities. The mirrors felt stifling, and my alter ego never came out of hiding. I worried about breaking the chair, or falling on my ass, or, as always, looking ridiculous and definitely unsexy. Feelings I never actually shook.
I'm leaving for holidays tonight, which means missing a whole week of dance. There's a piece of me that is saddened. But there's this other piece that is a bit relieved. I'm going to Christina Lake, where there are trails for me to hike, a massive body of water for me to swim, and a path I love to run. These fitness activities are familiar to me. I know the mechanics of running and have been swimming Christina Lake since I was a kid. For a few days, I'll be in my comfort zone and I admit I'm looking forward to it.
Don't get me wrong - I'll jump right back into dance the week I return.
Because I've made a commitment to this, and because in honesty, I can see the difference. My body feels stronger and leaner, more energized. But more than that, so does my mind. My most recent pages have been crisp and well crafted. Ideas are flowing and I don't dread that blank screen. Dancing has helped re-open that creative gate when other tactics have failed. I can't quit. Not now.
I owe it to myself to complete this journey.
The Book In My Bag Today: Ink Exchange, Melissa Marr