Dance

Choosing Life

In a year long quest to be more open, honest, authentic, real, and other words of the like; I’m sharing something that I haven’t really discussed or care to talk about. Quite often I get asked why I’m not dancing professionally or why did I not follow up on those goals I set for myself after I graduated college. It’s a difficult question. One I loathe because it has taken me years to come to grip with the reasons and the direction my life took instead. For years I dealt with jealousy when I saw friends live out my dreams and do what I always wanted. I had thoughts of “I am more talented, yet here I am not dancing and they are getting all the attention” or “everyone thought I’d be the one dancing in a company not them”. There were also some other darker thoughts but I don’t feel like going down that road…

 

There are a few answers to this question of why I am not dancing professionally. It’s definitely not for a lack of trying. Honestly, I tried too hard. I gave my heart and soul to dance. It was all I wanted (that and to be skinnier and the most fit dancer in my college company). These are my most used answers-all valid and true:

 

*I suffered performance anxiety in every audition. Every time I auditioned I crumbled. I could not handle the pressure.
*I met my soon to be husband. I fell in love and sometimes when you love someone you change your own path. I wanted him to be successful and followed him encouraging him along the way.
*God’s plan for me changed.

 

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Pic by Katie Norrell

 

Then there is the answer that I don’t answer with very often. I don’t use this answer unless I am completely comfortable with someone or like now. I do feel embarrassed and ashamed of this answer. I feel that people won’t really understand or grasp it. Do you want to know the true answer to why I’m not dancing in a company?

 

I’d be dead.

 

That is not an over exaggeration. If I would have been one of the few to make it in a company I know I couldn’t handle the stress of the grueling schedule, accompanying lifestyle, and standing up to my own perfectionistic tendencies let alone the standards of a company. My dream, along with my addictions and eating disorders, would have killed me.

 

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Performing with the Moonlight Minx Parade Jan 2018. Photo by RAW Tulsa

 

I took me years to come to grips with that final reason and to be OK with choosing recovery. I know that sounds cliche, but to those who don’t know what it’s like, sometimes you think your pre-recovered life is better. It’s screwed up thinking but addicts are not known for their logic. I would try and hide this. Then I’d be dancing or performing in other endeavors and people would constantly ask my why I’m not doing more. I wasn’t comfortable telling people I chose life over my dream. I still live in the past knowing that I could’ve been more. I still sometimes see myself as that young dancer who was on top of the world–who had people loving her when she danced, who wanted to create pieces on her. That young dancer who would’ve been happily dancing in the corps because dance is life and my dream would have come true.

 

However in the deepest parts of me I know that to be dancing and performing to that high caliber you need more than talent. You need to be mentally healthy and physically en pointe. At the time I didn’t have healthy coping mechanisms. I had the passion, the drive, the ambition, the talent–but abusing laxatives, compulsive exercising, and restricting caloric intake negates any of the former. I was coping with the fact that I felt inadequate about my technique/talent. In a world where there is always someone better than you, it can be difficult to stay confident. I was coping with loneliness and the isolation. I was suppressing my anger and emotions from an abusive relationship.  Pretty much I was a hot freakin’ mess.

 

While I may not have danced in a company I did dance professionally for a few years. I became a dance teacher. I was a cabaret dancer/burlesque performer. I performed in local companies on occasion. Now I just take class when I can while pursuing my passion of teaching yoga, wellness, and trying to bring dance conditioning to OKC (my way of contributing to the dance world). I am also happily married with the best furbaby on the planet. I’m living in a big(ger) city. I have some fantastic friends. Things I would have missed out on if my life was what my college self wanted. So am I sad that one part of my life is “over”? Yes. But I am happy that I chose life.

 

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Photo by Matias Cortez

Back to the Mat of Things

The beauty of life and yoga is the fluidity of it. Life is always moving, forward, circular, constantly, never stagnant. Yoga is the same way. Yoga follows you wherever the current takes you. It helps you maintain the flow and keeps you from drowning in the waters of life. What else is great about yoga is that there are many limbs and facets to yoga that one can always practice it. If you follow me, take my classes, or know a little about my opinion on yoga; you know I always talk about the non asana limbs of yoga. While asana is great and much needed it shouldn’t be the only thing we focus on. Until recently, I never really understood how much asana is needed, especially in my life.

This past month has been a whirlwind. Talk about the never stagnant waters of life. May was the month of dance, dance, dance, new blog adventure (check out auminthearts.com), writing, yoga, and more dance. All this combined made for one tornadoesque month. There was so much going on that I didn’t get to practice much yoga…asana. I was trying to act mindfully, eat well, breathe, BUT, my asana practice was lacking. Which showed me how much that one limb of yoga influences the other seven limbs.

Without practicing asana it was hard for me to be still. Without practicing asana I couldn’t work out that excess and anxious energy to focus on my many tasks at hand. Without the asana I didn’t fully catch my breath or know where it was. Without asana my eating disorder thoughts began to arise because I wasn’t “working out”, “moving my body” enough to eat (even though I was dancing up a storm). Then there was myyoga-1146277_1920 physical body…it hurt. My hips were always stiff which interfered with my dancing. My knee pain was worse. The un-rounding of the shoulders I’ve been working on and opening the thoracic spine work started to go away.  My back was achy and not mobile, which again impairs dance performance. Everything sucked!

I didn’t want life to suck. I didn’t want my body suck. My dancing sure as hell couldn’t suck and neither could my new blog! So I made sure I put asana back in forefront of my day to day happenings. I woke up earlier. I did small sessions of yoga throughout the day. On the weekends I did restorative yoga. If I had five extra minutes I was in a yoga pose, be it a down dog or splaying on my new yoga wheel. And guess what? This ebbing and flowing river that was May began to be calm, or maybe I was just steadier. All because of my asana practice!

How does your asana practice influence your life? What do you notice if you don’t practice enough of the physical yoga? Can you practice too much physical yoga? Now onto June! Keep swimming in the yoga waters…

 

 

Performance Anxiety

anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortuneearnest but tense desire; eagerness; psychiatric tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder. (dictionary.com).

performance anxiety: Performing anxiety, stage fright Psychology A ‘flight-or-fight’ reaction in an anxious person carrying out an activity in public–eg, entertaining, public speaking–or in front of others, as in sexual activity, for fear of poor performance Clinical Tachycardia, ↑ BP, ↑ respiration, ↑ muscle tone. (medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com).

 

Today let’s talk a little about performance anxiety and how it can affect one’s life for a matter of moments, weeks, or days. There are many different types of performance anxieties. Anything can interfere with one’s performance: death in the family, family stress, self-doubt, self-esteem issues, body image, negative or traumatic experiences, personal relationships, pressure to perform to one’s capability, failure, or financial stress (Weiberg and Gould, 83). Any type of of athlete or performer (theatre, dance, and musician) will experience performance anxiety. It can be something simple as a brief moment of doubt, to a couple of days leading up to the performance with doubts or any of the above circumstances. How one copes with the stress is whether or not it falls into two categories: event importance and uncertainty. Event importance is just what it sounds like, how important the event is to the individual (is it a big show, is a talent scout there, etc…). Uncertainty is when you go after someone who is just as good, or two teams who are equally matched playing against one another.

Some individuals are hardier than others due to their own trait anxiety and self-esteem.  Trait anxiety is “a personality factor that predisposes a person to view competition and social evaluation as more or less threatening. A highly trait-anxious person perceives competition as more threatening and anxiety provoking than a lower trait-anxious person does” (Weinberg and Gould, 85). For example I am a highly trait-anxious individual. I may be extremely competitive, but I start to doubt my own abilities and I get so determined to win that when I start to fail my perfectionism takes over and I crumble. Also, when I am putting a lot of effort or know someone is coming to a show, I put so much onto it that I become anxious and the doubts and fears creep into my head.

I have been asked quite a few times if I get stage freight. I always reply “No”. Which is the truth. I am not scared of performing or being on stage. Actually, I enjoy it. The stage feels like home. I love it when people look at me. I love to share my passion for dance/art with others. I love the compliments after the show (I had a dance instructor that one time said, all dancers are selfish because we like the praise at the end of a show). It makes me feel good about myself and my talent.

BUT…..

I do have performance anxiety mainly in the form of social physique anxiety. Social physique anxiety is when people become anxious when others observe their physiques. Can I say, “Hello dance costumes!”? All dancers can relate to this. We either have awesome costumes or really really horrendous costumes; which in the modern dance world it is known as a unitard (and Lord forbid if it is white). In Latin dancing, costumes are usually skimpy or revealing. Ballet class has leotards and tights. Other times costumes are just made out of horrible fabric that has no right to be on a person’s body. With me, any costume, flattering or not, is a bad costume. I recently wore an all black costume and thought I looked fat in it. Anytime I have a performance coming up I stress out. I am always worried I look bigger than everyone. That I don’t look muscular enough, that I am ugly, or that people will think I don’t look good. On top of that I am worried about my technique and performance ability. Usually the week of a performance I am spun like a top. And now I am trying to navigate the world of eating disorder recovery with the world of stage performance. Making sure I fuel myself properly before, during, and after the show. Recently I have started to take up pole fitness (pole dance), and I sometimes get social physique anxiety there due to having to wear short shorts and sports bras or tight fitting shirts. I get anxious because I think the instructor will see cellulite or fat, but yet, I know she doesn’t care. She encourages people of all sizes to embrace themselves and pole dance. I am hoping that through poling I take up that attitude and help conquer this.

I do use some therapy tools while I am battling this though. I tend to use lots of imagery and talk out scenarios in my head. I imagine myself doing the performance piece exactly as I do it in rehearsal, even better. I see myself on the stage; feel the warmth of the lights, catching the energy of the audience, seeing myself looking beautiful in my costume, executing the steps with flawless technique on my given ability. Believe it or not it works! I also try to go over in my head words I hear my other half say, “You have disordered thinking. So how you see yourself is not what others will see. Others will see you like you want to see you but can’t.”

I make it through the performances. I enjoy them. Each performance I am in I use as a tool. As a learning experience. A test; a little pop quiz on how well I can handle the high pressure situation. I may not get an A, but I am not failing at it anymore. I can now enjoy all aspects of performing and actually live in the moment; which before, I wasn’t always present on the stage and it was a fleeting moment. Now it is a fleeting moment that I can remember and feel.

 

Reference:

Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 5th Edition. Weinberg, Robert S. & Gould, Daniel.

I’m a woman, W-O-M-A-N…

March is Women’s History Month so I want to share some of my favorite female role models, inspiring women, with you today. It is hard to really pin down my favorites or those who have made an impact on my life/lives of other females.  Sometimes making a list brings out the worst of the perfectionist in me because I always feel like I am excluding someone or missing out, maybe even offending someone. So I am not going to worry about it. I will stick with ten women and that will help me stay on track.

The following women below all have one or more of these qualities: strength, beauty, class, humanitarianism, fights for rights, artistic, pioneers in their field of work, hard working, religious, bravery, a champion, and can serve as a role model.

1) Audrey Hepburn

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“The beauty in a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart; the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring and that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”

2) Maya Angelou

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If you have not noticed from previous entries, especially:  https://imageoftheheart.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/when-you-dont-know-what-to-say-let-maya-angelou-do-the-speaking/

3) Loretta Lynn

3) June Carter Cash

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Fun fact:   June learned to play autoharp by her mother Maybelle Carter.  The Carter’s are from VA.

4) Condoleeza Rice

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Fun fact: She is the ONLY female who belongs to Augusta. Which is an all male golf club that holds the Masters Tournament.

5) Gloria Steinem

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6) Isadora Duncan

7) Pina Bausch

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Check out my previous entry on Pina here to learn more about her and see some of her work:

https://imageoftheheart.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/dance-dance-or-we-all-are-lost/

8) Rachel Carson

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” Silent Spring

9) Michelle Kwan

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Who didn’t want to be her in the 90s? I had the necklace and all the books. Kwan was the reason I took up figure skating in elementary school.

10) Oprah Winfrey

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Burnout and Overtraining

Give me a few moments to indulge my sport science and exercise science background. It isn’t everyday I get to thoroughly use my college degree and I share the wonderful information I learned there. So on I go….

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Overtrain (overtrained, overtraining): “a sudden decline in performance and physiological function that cannot be remedied by a few days or reduced training, rest, or dietary manipulation…also called overtraining syndrome. It is subjective and identifiable only after the individual’s performance and physiological function have suffered. Due to the highly individualization of overtraining syndrome, it is difficult for athletes, trainers, and coaches to recognize overtraining.  Some of the symptoms include,  but not limited to: loss of muscular strength, lack of coordination, extreme fatigue, inability to work at full capacity, change in appetite, weight loss, sleep disturbances (lack of sleep, trouble resting/going to sleep), irritability, restlessness, anxiety, decrease immunity, lack of motivation, decrease mental coordination and concentration, lack of appreciation of things once found enjoyable.” (Wilmore, Jack et. al, Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 301-302).  Any type of athlete be it strength or endurance can be subjected to overtraining.

On a similar but different note we have burnout,

Burnout as defined by Gould and Whitley in 2009: “it is a physical, emotional, and social withdrawal from a formerly enjoyable sport activity. This withdrawal is characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced sense of accomplishments, and sport devaluation. Moreover, a burnout occurs as a result of chronic stress (a perceived or actual imbalance between what is expected of an athlete physically, psychologically, and socially and his or her response capabilities) and motivational orientations and changes in an athlete…the following are some some characteristics of burnout: physical and emotional exhaustion, depression, feelings of low accomplishment, low self esteem, depersonalization.” (Gould, Daniel et. al, Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 495-496).

You may be thinking, “what does this have to do with anything?” or “I thought this was an eating disorder recovery blog and we are talking about sport psychology?”. There is a method to my madness. If you didn’t know because you haven’t read previous entries, I am a dancer. I also suffered and in recovery from not only an eating disorder, but exercise addiction.  Dancers are athletes. We train long and hard. When in college it was everyday for hours, especially in performance season. And if you have experienced run through’s and late tech nights, you can relate. On top of this rigorous schedule, I also have found myself battling exercise addiction. As an individual addicted to exercise, I never let myself rest.  This has caught up to me more than once and that is what I want to write about today. My experiences in being overtrained and burnt out.  Especially because at this present moment I am experiencing burn out.

While I was pursuing my undergraduate in Exercise Science, these two topics were of big discussion. There was a point early in my college career that when we were studying the aforementioned topics I realized that I was overtrained. “So this is why I can’t sleep at night and I feel like shit” I would think to myself. Yet, hearing all the factual evidence, I did nothing to remedy it. I also thought, “this doesn’t apply to me” or “I am too strong for overtraining”. What a fool I was. What a slave to Melvin (my ED) and my exercise addiction I was. During this point in time I was doing the following: dance technique classes 3 hrs/wk, rehearsals 5-10 hrs/wk, taught 3 group fitness classes/wk, run anywhere from 3-5 miles/wk, and weight lift (modeled after bodybuilding high volume training) about two hours  3 days/wk. No rest days. I went 7 days a week. Some days I would run, lift, and then dance. Crazy I know. Looking back on it I honestly don’t know how I did that.  And to top it off, I barely consumed 1,500 calories. That would be a high intake day. Yes, again, I don’t know how I did that.

That was my schedule for about the first two years of college till I got anterior knee pain syndrome and some other overuse injuries. I had to stop running all together, which I still miss to this day, running was the only thing that could allow me to fully decompress and escape my negative thoughts. There were moments I couldn’t dance due to my injuries. Despite the injuries, I kept going and going and going (like the Energizer Bunny, in case you missed the reference).

The whole time I kept this routine I had the symptoms of overtraining. I couldn’t rest at night, I had to sleep with the TV on to calm myself. I always was in a fog. I never had enough energy to be my very best or at least pay attention. There were moments I couldn’t concentrate at the task at hand. There would be moments I couldn’t execute the simplest exercises be it dance or lifting. My body ached all the time. I was just tired.  Yet I never did much about it. Even with injuries and removing stuff from my workout routine, an addict will find a way around it. And I did.  All of this eventually led me to burnout. But I never realized I was affected by burnout until now.

I am a performance artist. I love performing. Get me up on stage and I am home. I am free from my ED and I get the attention that I crave. I had a dance instructor say all dancers are selfish because when we perform it is always about us and how good we did we want to hear. He had a very true point. But yet, even through all the compliments and scouting, it was never enough. Well it was enough, but Melvin and my obsession with perfection always thought otherwise. Other athletes can relate, I’m sure. When you are in season it is go time. Long practices, for me rehearsals, no days off. Even weekends see your face more than others. And with every game, for me, performance, you give so much of yourself away that it just wears you out. Thank God for adrenaline, because honestly, with an ED and doing two shows a day I don’t know how I made it through some performances. It can be rough, and this is when I get burnt out. But once a show has closed and I take time for myself, my burn out disappears. Only when do I get in “show mode” does it come back.

Every time I am in “show mode” I get so tired and worn out that I can’t differentiate between my dysthymia (short bouts of depression) and burnout tendencies. It wasn’t till Saturday night after rehearsals for Nutcracker that while talking to my husband I realized I am burned out. And that I hadn’t “felt this way since college”. He pointed out that all those times I get burnt out. He was right. I get tired, fatigued. I end up hating rehearsing and performing. I am unhappy. I put myself under so much stress. Especially this performance because I am a rehearsal director, soloist, and ballet isn’t my first medium (I am a modern, contemporary dancer first) so I have to work that much harder. It is a lot of pressure, and I already have issues with perfectionism.  Every performance I have been in I fall into this rut. I want to quit the show, I can’t wait for it to be over. I hate everybody and everything. I get preoccupied with food and costumes (though I am trying super hard to eat enough and tell myself “I will look good in my costume”). THIS, NOT MY PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS IS WHY I THINK THE LORD DIDN’T PUT ME IN COMPANY WORK. How can I be in a professional company when I am prone to overuse injuries and burnout? I am sure if I wasn’t in recovery and didn’t care, I would not have known any difference and a company gig could possibly await me. But, I am in recovery and I do care.

Hopefully, I can learn from this experience as well as past ones to help me avoid burnout in the future. I am already avoiding overtraining, now to just avoid burnout. I believe this may be a future therapy topic….

 

References:

Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Daniel Gould and Robert Weinberg

Physiology of Sport and Exercise, Jack H. Wilmore

 

 

Am I A Hypocrite? Little Girls: Love yourselves, though I don’t always love myself…

I am a dance teacher. I love sharing my love and passion for dance with younger girls. It fulfills me to see young girls and young women gain self confidence or fall in love with dance/physical activity. It helps keep them from a sedentary lifestyle. Physiologically speaking, dance increases endorphin’s which helps elevate happiness/decrease depression, dance helps with muscle mass and fat mass.  Also one learns how to stay physically active throughout their life.  Dance  also keeps at risk kids off the street. Dance is a productive, proactive activity. Most importantly, dance gives dancers an outlet for self expression. When they have a rough day at school they can fuel their barre exercises. Tough time with a boyfriend/girlfriend?  Pour it out on the floor during choreography. Need a moment to get away from it all? All day rehearsals are the safe place.

As a dancer who has struggled with disordered eating and exercise addiction, these actions/mind sets can cause interesting emotions in my own dance life. There are moments I am triggered by smaller dancers (who are my size but a teenager), or more athletic looking ones. There are times I get frustrated with my abilities because I cannot pick up the choreography on the first go around.  There are also times I am gentle with myself and over ride my negative thoughts. I may not have killer extension, but I have stage presence. I even use dance as therapy. I made a solo about my eating disorder. I love dance. I can’t imagine not dancing. But, sometimes I have to step back. While in college I got to a point where I had to take a hiatus from dance because it was damaging to myself. When it was time, I came back to what fueled me. This time, I use my recovery tools and have a new message to the girls I instruct. My message is: there is no such thing as a perfect dancer body. Love yourself. Love your body, and it will love your dance. This isn’t an easy message due to the nature of dance. As one goes on with dance, especially onto the college or professional level, the “look” or pressure to be a certain way greatly increases.  Certain companies like a specific body type. Or if you audition for a show, you might not get a part because you have red hair, not brown. Or blonde hair not red. As a dancer who is 5″1, I always put 5″2 because that extra inch makes me more desirable. Ask any performer, there is something on their resume they lie about; whether it be weight, height, they may even color their hair, or where colored contacts. Hopefully as the increase awareness of eating disorders and body image issues get more attention in the dance community, the pressure of a certain look can decrease. The up and coming dance educators, choreographers,  and directors need to focus on technique, passion, and ability. Highlight more about the dancer than just what is on the surface.

Already this Nutcracker season, I have been confronted more with supporting these young girls and developing my mission statement than in previous settings. One of the girls I have the honor of directing mentioned her body is too muscular. She said she was “bigger than a normal dancer”.  I told her she is beautiful. She dances great, and it is because of her muscle she can dance beautifully. I expressed that she doesn’t need to change a thing about her body. It is the only one she has. Another time I saw a girl checking out her stomach in the mirror while comparing herself to another girl. How sad. She does what I do in my bedroom. I wanted to go up and say, “Stop it! Don’t even begin to go down this road! Don’t end up like me.” But I didn’t. What would have happened if I did? I hope she doesn’t start down the road of self deprivation.

At a previous school where I was taking class, I heard a teacher out right compared two girls’ bodies during barre. I was outraged. These two girls were apples and oranges. You can’t compare apples and oranges. The only thing they have in common is that they are fruit. The only thing these two dancers had in common was that they were dancers. Both were strong movers. One was very much an ectomorph (tall, narrow, lanky, slim). The other dancer was mesomorphic (medium built, athletic, ability to gain muscle easily). When comparing the girls, the instructor made it sound as if the mesomorphic girl was less of a dancer during that exercise compared to her counterpart. Automatically all sorts of things popped into my head as I am doing fondue’s and ron de jambe’s at the barre.  For one, the mesomorphic girl could go home and start down the road of eating disordered behavior. She could begin to hate her body and resent the fact that she is seen as “less than” for dance. Resentment against that other dancer could occur. The list goes on and on. As dance educators, we are suppose to instruct young girls in technique.Teach technique sound in kinesiology and physiology. Get past the whole body ideal. Every body is different. God made each of us one way. There is nothing we can change about ourselves anatomically (to the instructor who tried to get my feet to stop pronating, I AM A PRONATOR. LOOK AT MY X RAYS!). All we can do as dancers is strengthen our muscles to help aid our muscular imbalances, work on correct technique, listen, and keep on dancing.

One a similar but different note, I have encountered the evil downfall of most dancers/artists in general: Perfection. As a perfectionist who is trying to give up perfectionist tendencies, I spot these kids who are perfectionists in the making. In choreography class, they keep revising their phrase. They sport frustration on their faces. They will tell me they won’t perform their piece because they don’t want to be made fun of or it isn’t quite right. In rehearsal it is the kids that go above and beyond like Buzz Lightyear and  their technique begins to diminish because nothing is going right.  Perfection and dance go together like peanut butter and jelly. It is a hard wall to break in the dance community. I know in the height of my college dance career nothing was ever good enough. I could have had the best performance but something was always off. It ruined everything! I never got to revel in the full joy of performing. Now I see kids demonstrating those same behaviors, I cautiously say, “This is a positive environment. Your creations are wonderful because they are you. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect. Perfection isn’t real. Honesty and truth are real.”

I try to be an example of what uber perfectionism can do to you. I am very open about my overtly controlled college life. How everything was planned. Everything I did had to be perfect. Nothing was out of line. It is no way to live. It is easier for me to be honest and real about my turn from perfectionism.  But ask me about who I feel about my body image and my answer won’t be as honest.

I say all this to these kids and yet I feel as if I am a hypocrite. I tell these young ladies to love who they are. To embrace their body and all that comes with it. Yet, I struggle EVERYDAY with my own body image. I hardly feel fit enough, or muscular enough. Or even dancer-y enough.  Even though my wise self knows the difference; Melvin (my ED from my previous post), jumps on my negative thought train.  I make sure I eat in front of them, so I practice what I preach even though sometimes the last thing I want to do is eat. Everyone tells me how beautiful I am, but yet, a part of me still doesn’t believe it.I just say “Thank You” and go one. Some days I feel more beautiful or fit than others and that is a big improvement. I even am proud of my accomplishments in dance most days.  All of this and it has been two years of recovery! I just always hope that these young women don’t think I am a hypocrite. I hope they see me as a story of inspiration. A story of triumph, and a story of love. That if I, and countless others can overcome this disease, that they can too. Or better yet, they can take mine and others words of wisdom and live an ED free life.

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“Dance, dance or we all are lost”

The other day my husband and I got our weekly Netflix movie. This time it was a movie I picked, Pina. I finally was able to land a copy of the documentary/movie about the famous and influential modern dance choreographer, Pina Bausch. I am sure my husband wasn’t as thrilled as I was, but being the best husband ever, he sat down and watched it with me.  It was great to share Pina with him. While he has been exposed to a lot of dance, he did after all marry a dancer, he hadn’t seen anything as gutsy, eccentric, and edgy as the work of Pina Bausch.

Pina Bausch had a flair for drama, but yet, had a way to reach into your soul with the most simplest gestures. She could even move you with her costuming, use of props, or music contrast. Bausch gave new meaning to the word dance theater.  She  used water on stage, covered the stage with dirt, had people dance with eyes closed. Bausch even did site specific pieces (dance performance at a particular site, usually outdoors). Her work even had humor. She did it all.

While watching that movie, it made me realize why I love modern dance. In modern dance anything goes.  As long as you do it with conviction, zeal, and thoughtfulness, you can create a piece that has meaning.  Modern dance gives you no boundaries. It supports open mindedness in movement. It even encourages different ways of thinking about traditional technique, movement, and conventions.

In modern dance, I am free. Compared to classical ballet where I feel as if I have to stay inside this “classical box”; in modern dance, I get to play. I can take my ballet technique and add something extra. I can roll around on the floor, dance with no music… anything is possible.

This is why I love movies like Pina. It sheds a different light on modern dance. Modern dance is viewed as being “very out there”, “I won’t understand it”, or my favorite, “is it the same as interpretive dance?”. But when someone watches work as that is as emotional and as Pina Bausch’s work, it moves you from the inside out. Modern dance is no longer “out there”. It is relate able. Understandable. Modern dance is you. Modern dance is me. Bausch does what every choreographer no matter the genre wants to accomplish: the moving and stirring of the soul.

 

Rite of Spring

New meaning to living on the edge…

Trailer for the movie

A reel of some of her last work before her death

Find out more about Pina and Tanztheater here: http://www.pina-bausch.de/en/pina_bausch/index.php

 

 

P.S. I am in the process of growing out my hair as long her dancers. The love of my life thinks I will cut it off before it gets that long as I always do. But I really want hair that long….