Dance/Life Balance

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“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.
”Merce Cunningham

In many ways, this quote really helps explain one reason I continue this blog.  In a literal sense, it isn’t true because you do get little assorted trinkets – medals and ribbons and the like from various dance competitions. And there are certainly videos that can be reviewed again and again.  But in the larger sense, the quote is spot on.

And it illustrates a common problem I have and that is discussing dancing with the non-dancers in my life.  If you opened the door and gave me the chance, I could probably talk for hours about dancing and what it has done for me and how it makes me feel and on and on.  Those feelings are strong and run very deep within me.  But most people simply lack the ability to place those into any kind of context.  And that always makes the conversations a little one sided.  Plus, it is difficult for me to express in words what it actually feels like.  It is difficult for me to do it here but I think I have better success with writing than speaking.

I shouldn’t lump all dancers into the same category because people dance for different reasons.  It is fun, it is social, it is good exercise.  You can enjoy all those things without ever having dance reach in a grab a piece of your soul.  It was like Sunny telling me that I lit up on the dance floor and she could see it.  Dance is that light within me that burns bright and only rarely gets released to the outside world.  I can talk to you about the light but I can’t make you feel the intensity.

It is that “single fleeting moment when you feel alive” part that grabs me. It is why I describe dance as a high and why I feel a crash in the days after an event when the drug wears off.  That can seem a little sad if you think that you only truly feel alive on the dance floor which isn’t totally true.  But, in those moments of doing a solo, the world is full of bright lights and colors and all my senses just come alive.  In the aftermath, things do lose much of that glitter and the colors become more muted.  How do you explain that to someone without sounding like a babbling idiot?  I guess a lot of people have passions that burn brightly within them and that would be common ground and that might be the only way to get them to understand the real attraction I have for ballroom.

I get the “it looks like fun” comment many times from people who want to dance but haven’t managed to find the time or courage to cross the line into a studio.  And, of course, dancing is fun.  But it is also hard work.  It taxes your body.  It taxes your mind.  It can be an emotional meat grinder.  Got issues with self-confidence or certain parts of your body you don’t like?  Yeah, dancing will make you face those head on whether you want to or not.  You continue to have to walk through fire to toughen yourself for what dancing demands because, when it is a passion and you want to be the best, it will demand a lot!  And I mean a whole freaking lot.  Dance wants everything!  It wants you – mind, body and soul.  And you have to be willing to give it all – which is always a struggle.

I’ll also get the comments about cost because this isn’t cheap.  I wish it was more affordable and there are ways to do it on a budget but it often means compromises and frustration.  Many of my more practical friends would simply scoff at the cost and wonder how I could shell out that much money.  It would be scary to total up how much I’ve spent over the years and what I could have done with it.  Those people would say “Is it worth it?”  Well, how does one put a price on an experience.  How much is it worth to have those fleeting moments when your life gets super charged?  I can’t make them actually feel what I feel so they will never truly understand that you can’t put a price on it and it is worth it.  (Of course, you could probably make an analogy here to a junkie doing whatever he can to score his next fix because he needs the high, and that wouldn’t actually be that far off)

And, I’ve said this before but I like repeating myself, so I’ll say it again.  Dance has just unlocked parts of me that had been closed off for a long time.  Those feelings and emotions can’t stay bottled up or I’d probably explode.  I know that this is a one way method of communication for the most part but I also know from reading some of the other dance blogs that you get it.  I can ramble on like this and there will be places where you just nod to yourself and go “yep, totally get it”.  That’s good enough for me.



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