My body felt warm and relaxed after two hours dancing in the studio. Each week for the past 4 weeks I had come to open my body with new movement and to untangle the memories and definitions that constricted who I am when I dance. As I left the studio I touched the elevator down button and turned to my phone. A young blonde woman leaned against the wall smiling at me. “This may be strange but…” I looked up to see who was speaking. “Did you dance at Arlington Center for Dance?” she asked.
“Yes.” I answered simply, summing up ages 6 to 18 of professional ballet training 3 to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week in a small school 5 hours away in Virginia. “I know who you are,” she was beaming. I didn’t recognize her face but I started to open as if I had, knowing that she was aware of such a huge part of my life before I moved to NYC for dance.
Just 3 weeks prior I had called a Healing Circle for Dancers in this very studio after many burning converesations with dancers who had left the dance world and in some way left a part of themselves still in it. “You probably know my father more than you know me,” she gave me his name and then hers. Her father used to fly the scrims in and out during our tech rehearsals and performances. Yes, I believe I had heard the director calling his name for years. Here his daughter stood before me at the doorway to the dance studio.
“Are you dancing now?” I asked. She explained that she had left when she was 12. She “walked out,” her hands gestured a sweeping “X” across her body. “I mean I walked out completely.” She went on to say that she recently started social dance, swing, but it wasn’t “real dance.” Her eyes and tone suggested that I would agree, having shared the same strict definition of dance from our backgrounds. But I didn’t. I was so happy that she was opening a new relationship with dance 15 years later. “And now these crazy people,” she swung a hand toward the studio already filling with the next group of dancers, “actually convinced me to perform.” She looked undeniably happy.
She started to repeat again that she “walked out, I mean walked out” on dance. “Yes,” I nodded, “that’s very common. I’m so happy you are reconnecting to the part of you that loved dance before our studio defined it.” She had no idea the syncronicity of her seeing me in this studio at this time of the week where I come regularly to “walk back in” to dance, whole. “I’m so glad you said something to me,” I said as she turned to enter the studio.
I have always loved dance more than anything, even when someone else was describing what it was and what it wasn’t. But these days there is a phenomenal choreography of dancers dispursing for 10, 15 years, and then slowly turning to face back to the center. “Steve, can you fly the scrim in for the next scene? Raise the lights on stage right, we want to see their glowing faces.”