Wednesday, November 28, 2007

reclaiming my former self

That title sounds all deep and dramatic doesn't it? I doubt this post will actually live up to that impression, but I can suck you in with the deep and dramatic title, right?

I used to be a dancer. For most of my life, dancing took up a major chunk of my time. From the ages of 2 to 18 I defined myself as a dancer. For several years there I even thought that's what I would be "when I grew up". But at some point my extremely balanced and practical self won out, and I realized the crazy lifestyle that would entail wasn't for me. But dancing remained a huge part of me.

My favorite was always ballet, although I did tap and jazz as well. But I loved ballet's grace and discipline and strength. I loved using my body to tell a story. I loved feeling so connected to my body. I loved the feeling of defying my body's natural tendencies by stretching it higher and further. Of almost defying gravity by lifting and jumping and standing on my toes.

Then about halfway through my senior year of high school, I needed a break. I had injured my foot the spring before and gotten a bit out of shape, and then I just couldn't seem to get excited about it again. I stopped taking classes. And I haven't taken a ballet class since.

In college, I took a few ballroom classes here and there. I flirted with the idea of taking other dance classes, but I never made room in my schedule. And here I am, 6 years after I quit dance, dreaming of dancing again. Do you know what else? All these years I have dragged my dance stuff around with me. I still have my pointe shoes and ballet slippers and jazz and tap shoes. I still have leotards and tights and cozy dance sweaters. They are all in a bag that I have kept with me for six years. Because in my body, I am still a dancer. I've just been ignoring it. But I really do miss dancing. I'm sad that I let it go for so long. I feel like I've lost a part of who I am, even though I know it's still in there somewhere.

So can I still do it? How far have I regressed? Will my body remember what it was once able to do so easily? I have looked into taking an adult class around here. But it's expensive, and I'm not sure that I'm ready for people to see my body in a leotard and tights again! So I'm going to try to get a feel for my dancer's body again. How? With a little dvd called New York City Ballet: The Complete Workout, Vol. 1 and 2. I have requested it for Christmas. Do I expect to miraculously reclaim my 17-year-old dancer's body? No. But I'm hoping to feel strong and limber again by doing some plies and arabesques in my living room. And heavens knows I need to exercise more! It's a start, right?

Do you have dreams of reclaiming your former self?


  1. I used to be quite the gymnist and in my head I can still do those round-offs and hand-springs - I even tried them a few years ago and did okay. You go for it - reclaim that dancing you love. Take care. Kellan

  2. i think more often i have dreams of becoming something i pretended (and wanted desperately) to be but never really was...

    if that even makes sense.

  3. ah, yes. for me it's music. there was a point in time where i practiced piano for four hours every day and had three hour long lessons with a teacher who only took one, MAYBE two students a year, depending on their auditions...and then i went to college, and barely touched a piano since.

    but guess what? i'm getting a piano sometime in the next week or so. hopefully this will make a difference (despite the fact that my mom bought me a top-of-the-line-fits-in-any-tiny-apartment keyboard when i graduated that i really haven't done much with...)

  4. For me its two things - swimming and music. I used to be a pretty dedicated competitive swimmer, but since I've moved out I've probably only gone to a pool a dozen times in the last 3.5 years? I always want/think it would be great if I started swimming again regularly, but a) I can never find the money and b) I'm just plain scared that I've forgotten how to swim properly and now look like a regular adult swimmer (this isn't nice to admit but we did tend to scoff at them *blush*!!)

    and 2) is my music - I started playing the violin at age 4 and continued until age 11 or 12, and then off and on from then until age 16. Since my violin (which i paid for out of my own paycheck) and really nice, expensive hardcase (which was a christmas gift from my brother) was stolen from me, I haven't really made it a priority to find the money required to replace it and start taking lessons again. I miss it alot sometimes - I mean, for 12 years of my life I had something to go to whenever I felt like expressing/challeging/learning something new, etc etc., and I just don't have that outlet anymore. Another thing I would love to pick up again when I have the financial freedom to do so. *sigh*

  5. Its never too late! NOW is the time. Do not be afraid...this is the challenge you've been waiting for. Best of luck.

  6. i've done that New York City Ballet Workout before...that's a good {hard} workout. you go girl!

  7. Doesn't everyone have illusions of grandeur? I sure do; there's too many to list!

    You should totally go for it now, as in tomorrow. As soon as the babies come it'll be a lot harder to get in shape!!

  8. Thanks for the support, friends!

  9. I love that photo!! Good for you for going after it. What a neat workout idea-sounds like it was made for you since you're looking for a way to get back into it. I can't wait to read about your dance progress in a few months!!

  10. Oooh, ballet. I've always loved the look of ballet.

    I've most definitely had dreams of reclaiming my former self. This year it happens often that I daydream about my "old" life and how completely different it was.

    It's sad when you let something slide and then years later realize how much you miss it.
    I hope you have a good experience with ballet.

  11. OK this is so funny because first of all, we had the same life from age 2-18, and second of all, my sister (also a ballet dancer in a former life) just told me about that dvd (she picked it up at a garage sale) and I'm dying to try it, too! I'm horribly out of shape and a lot of ways to exercise are totally uninteresting and unmotivating to me. We'll have to chat about how our ballet workout is going!

  12. Anne, I'm with you! I get so bored during a lot of exercising. I really like the dvd so far. I've only done the first volume but it was excellent. I'm excited to try the volume 2 now.

  13. I am Ariana's sister in law. I love wedding pictures so I decided to check out your blog.
    I was touched by this post. Almost to tears lol.
    I used to be an artist. I can relate to devoting your life to something until it somewhat defines you. I started drawing and painting at age 10. From then on, I took every art class I could get my hands on. When I got to high school, I took the most challenging classes I could including AP classes. I entered many contests, won many contests, and was very competative with the best in the state of Texas. I was president of National Art Honors Society at my HS for two years. My senior year I came one point from winning state. I also started working as an artist my senior year painting murals, faux painting, trumploi (sp?), etc. I worked as an artist in Texas and California for three years. Then I just stopped. I really haven't done much since then. I now have two little kids and often long for my inner artist. Sometimes so much that it hurts.

    Sorry to be so random. I feel safe actually saying those things because I don't know you. I am pretty sure most people I know now don't know about that...but it used to be who I was.

    By the way, I'm also a red head, LDS, got pregnant with my first after I had been married 9 months.

  14. Jenna... I hope you come back and read this. Thank you for sharing all that with me. I appreciate it. I think the great thing is, you are still an artist! It's just been a little dormant perhaps. But I have no doubts you can still do it. Those things are in are souls. My mom is also an artist and she didn't do much of anything for years while we were all little. And then one day she went out and bought all new supplies and just started painting again. It really is possible to reclaim. Start with something little. My little ballet dvd's pale in comparison to taking a real class and dancing in front of people, but at least it's something.

    And thanks for coming over to my blog! That's so fun that we have so much in common. Feel free to email me if you ever feel like chatting more:

  15. Thanks Katrina :) I have a private blog. I'll send you an invite.