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Mindful Mondays: How Dance Saved My Life

Monday, May 30, 2016

Jack Hartin Photography - not my image - all rights to Jack
May 30, 2016

Hello Hello Hello!

This week is the week of yet another dance performance for my studio, but it's also the first time I won't be dancing in it. As I graduated last year I am strictly faculty this year and to be honest, I'm having a hard time dealing with that.



Since I stopped dancing as a student at my studio I have only done one other performance back in November and it was amazing, but it wasn't enough. I used to perform all the time and I was in the best shape of my life and now I am just a teacher. Now don't get me wrong, I love my job. The feeling I get when I see my little munchkins killing their dance is the best feeling in the world. Although the feeling one gets when they have a standing ovation after a solo or a grand performance, well that is what I live for. To quote the incredible Rachel Berry, "I'm like Tinkerbell, I need applause to live!" Maybe not quite to that extent, but there are times when I feel that way. I didn't know how much I loved performing until about a year ago that I realized that graduating would limit my opportunities.

Recently I have been re-watching Glee and I realized how many times I could have been on stage, but turned it down. I am ever so grateful for the three years of dancing I got at my studio, I just want more. I am not in school as you know, so where do I go to get these jobs? I don't want to be a background dancer for some pop singer. I guess I would feel like a prop rather than a performer. Everyone remembers the singer, not the dancers. I guess you could say Broadway is the dream, I mean isn't it every dancers dream? Grand theaters make me feel at home. Every time I walk out on a stage I feel calm and happy. I don't like being the center of attention in my day to day life. I wear bland clothing and just try to blend in, but it changes when I'm on stage.

As a dancer, just like an actor, when I dance I get to become someone else. I feel as if I am stronger and braver and all that anxiety and depression is on lock-down, even for just a moment. When I was in middle school I was never happy. I never wanted to do anything or do homework. It was pretty horrible, to be honest. Then in eight grade, I was offered a scholarship to join a local dance clinic. Because of that, I started performing and learning more and more. I was a fast learner and people really thought I could make it as a dancer. I did to.

Come May of that year, I get injured. Now I know all dancers get bruises and sprained ankles as it's part of the job. Yet, sometimes there are the bad injuries. The ones you can't just rub tiger-balm on and go on next act. These are the ones that keep you on the couch for weeks and the first one, you never forget it.

I manged to fracture my hip and tear part of the ligament. I was on crutches for six weeks and could barley shower without crying out in pain. For the next year every time I thought about dancing, I would hear that sickening sound in my head of the fracture or remember falling to the floor in shock. It scared me to even think about dancing. I was fully healed by about August of that year. Then in the fall, I met my studio's director and I joined. I only took hip hop as I was so afraid of dancing again, technically.

That June, I watched the advanced jazz class and I almost cried. It's what I wanted to do and I was still so afraid to even try. I auditioned for my High School's dance team a week later and got injured during try outs and couldn't do much of anything. I didn't make it and was devastated. My director then asked me to join the dance company. I honesty still don't know what she saw in me to ask me to audition, but it was the best decision I had ever made. I stopped hating myself, I made friends, I found what I loved and kept up with it.

Fast forward to today. I am not dancing as much as I would like and I am slowly succumbing to my depression and anxiety once again. Yet, I know that I will wake up and get everything back together. Without dance and performing, I don't think I would be alive today. I was so broken and it gave me something to live for. If you want to do something you love, do it now, don't wait because one day those opportunities, will slowly fade away.

Stay Mindful

- Haley

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