After a week of consuming projects and too little sleep, I joined my mother and sister at the Capitol Theatre for Ballet West's Sleeping Beauty (oh, irony). The night before, some friends and I saw our university's stellar dance team perform for the third year in a row. I grew up in that dance world. I forget that, and when I remember I almost don't believe it. I hear that world criticized a lot--the resulting body image issues, the materialism, the politics. And I did experience plenty of confusion and disappointment when I was a dancer; sometimes I think those fears and doubts may always be a part of me.
But I will always be grateful for dance. It taught me grace and silence. It taught me that I can work, even through pain. It taught me that I can achieve and I can be the best sometimes.
Dance taught me about my body too, but I didn't know it until now. Is that weird, that I didn't recognize my own body when I moved it like that everyday for thirteen years? I know that our bodies are miracles, they really are. We breathe and we memorize. We twist our ankles and pop our knees. Then, we heal and do it again. We stay up until 2 a.m. finishing portfolios and speed-reading novels, and in the morning our bodies pull something from somewhere and make it to class alive and alert. That is amazing.
But more, I know that our bodies are beautiful. Dancing is beautiful because the air reaches your very fingertips and you press your feet through wooden shoes into the floor, really feeling the floor, and let your neck pull as high as it will go. And your arms are so long you may just loose them and the music plays in your spine and your spleen and your spirit. Dancing is beautiful because your body knows, maybe more than any other part of you, how it is to be human. Your body offers movement and rhythm to your soul. I think that's why my body screams at the ballet--because pulling shoulders and battered toes are liberating, creative, and honest.