It’s true: Cheaty Monkey and I have been on a break. I may or may not have cheated on it just a little over at Today’s Parent; but, we have made amends and are back together, at least for today. It’s not like I have anything important to say here. Major events in the world and the fact that I haven’t written here for so long make personal blogging seem even more self-indulgent. But, there are one or two insignificant things to share here.
I’m ashamed to admit I’ve sent Joey, now 9, to four different dance studios. And back in June, unsatisfied with yet another dance recital, I bought tickets to my old dance studio‘s year-end show—just to prove that awesome, So You Think You Can Dance-calibre studios still exist. And man, did my old studio deliver. The kids were flying, toes were pointed, legs were high, chins lifted, knees straight. There were abs happening, biceps and those singular thigh muscles that only develop from working hard on your ballet turn-out. The choreography was as spectacular as it was then—in the 80s, 90s, golden age of that studio, when I was there.
Going to that show brought back one of the most creative and exciting times of my life. I was part of some of the most exquisite lyricals, most jaw-dropping tap, jazz and hip hop numbers, and I performed solos across the country. My mom was one of the original dance moms; and my teacher the original Abby Lee Miller.
I danced three days a week, all evening, not including rehearsals. My mad but amazing teachers advised us to sleep in the splits, go to tanning salons (which, thankfully, I didn’t do), and at 14 years old, I was instructed to lose 30 pounds, among other fun stuff. Later, I’d go on to take adult classes with the likes of Neve Campbell, I’d choose university over a job with a Canadian “Fly Girl” company, and I’d teach for a while until I turned fully to my next life, in the Ivory Tower of academia.
Kids in Joey’s dance classes struggle to do a single pirouette; but we were doing quadruple pirouettes at her age, switch splits, fouettes and fancy acrobatics.
I’ve tried, but I can’t give her the experience that shaped me big time. And I can’t bring back that experience. At all.
Even if I just wanted to watch some of my old solos, or the best dances we performed—to Janet Jackson, C&C Music Factory, The Wiz, Madonna—I’d have to resurrect someone’s old VHS player. It’s all just gone. *Poof.* Like a Snap Chat conversation.
The only place it exists for me is in my mind—intricate pieces of the choreography still, the music, the people.
To replace the dancing, I turned to the most A-type yoga I could find: authentic Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with David Robson, who is known for being hardcore, perhaps as hardcore as Abby Lee Miller, only ethical and, well, ripped! I sailed along through Primary and into very advance poses of Second Series. And then suddenly, I got injured—a pinched nerve, like a perpetual sword in my shoulder blade, my own fault—and what I see now as the exhilarating dance-like performance elements of the more advance poses was also gone for the time being.
And I’ve never felt so stuck.
In these last two weeks, in which I’ve been focused on healing, I’ve been learning to let it all go and just accept where I am—which is, in large part, a result of that golden age. My exciting, creative, traumatizing dancing years made me a serious high achiever and (notwithstanding a few years of not-letting-go of pregnancy weight) gave me the strong, healthy body I have today—indeed, my thigh muscles are those of a dancer, not of a yogi.
I didn’t realize I hadn’t really taken off those old dancing shoes until this crazy new phase of my life began, likely with a certain milestone birthday. Didn’t know what I needed was to walk, not away from who I used to be, but beyond it maybe—with a dancer’s poise, flexibility, grace and strong legs.
But hey, if you see me in da club (or, well, anywhere with dancing)? You may want to give me lots of space.