Rediscovering My Passion
One of my earliest memories is dancing in my living room to a cassette tape of the Footloose soundtrack. I still have the lyrics memorized, a thing I discovered last month as I absent-mindedly sang along to my brother’s high school choir concert.
My connection to music and movement was with me practically from birth. While my mother had a passion for singing and creating music through guitar and piano, I had a passion for moving to music. Loving dance was always easy for me, but finding an outlet was more difficult. While my parents would have loved to indulge my passion for dance with training, unfortunately they lacked the resources. Perhaps this made me appreciate dance even more as I saw my little sister detest dance after taking ballet.
Aside from getting groovy in the living room, swing dancing was the first partner dance that I learned. When I was 11, my dad took me to a Merrie Miss daddy-daughter sock hop. Before we went, he taught me the basic swing step and some simple lifts (I was 11 and he’s a big guy, so throwing me around was no problem). At the dance I felt like the star! All the other girls wanted to dance like my dad and I were dancing. To this day, that is one of my fondest memories of my dad. Later, in high school I found a group of friends who were also into swing dancing. We loved to practice Lindy-Hop, west coast, country swing, and especially the lifts. At BYU I continued to do partner dancing, both swing and ballroom.
My only real dance training was at BYU where I took as many ballroom classes as I could. My love for ballroom dancing did not turn into my landing a spot on a competitive team, although I auditioned three times. This disappointment was a blow to my confidence as well. In retrospect, I think this is why I didn’t seek an outlet for dancing after I got married and moved away.
Fast forward a decade. I’m married, frumpy, with three kids. I see reality TV dancing shows and feel sad that part of my life is over. I think, “Girls in dance classes are young, I am not. I should put my children in dance classes, not take them.”
So when my cousins invited me to go to a dance club last year, I took them up on it. And I found my nirvana. The loud music, flashing lights, dancing. I was in my element. I danced, really danced, for hours. Admittedly, I looked out of place. You may know that people at dance clubs just bump and grind or bop around a little bit. They don’t really dance. But I didn’t care. I was re-discovering the dancer inside me. Because, for the last ten years or so I haven’t danced.
After that, I decided that dancing was part of who I am and I needed to embrace it. One day I went to the gym during an off-peak hour and snuck into the group fitness room with my ipod and armband. I turned on music only I could hear and began spinning, turning, an leaping across the room. As I moved in front of the mirrors like it was my own private studio. Suddenly an hour was gone and I was dripping with sweat. I felt ALIVE. The feeling was addictive. I started going back again and again.
Next I found a co-op dance class at a local studio. The women in the class were all trained dancers and they took turns teaching an advanced routine to the class. It was way beyond my ability, but I kept going week after week. Finally I volunteered to teach a latin dance. As I choreographed my song, I struggled to overcome my anxiety about performing. Even though I loved to dance, and was pretty good, I still felt inadequate because I hadn’t had the same training as the other women in my class. In the end, the dance went really well. It wasn’t as complicated as the other dances, but it was a great cardio workout.
Which leads me to my present relationship with dance. Shortly thereafter I discovered a type of dance-fitness class that combines simple moves from hip-hop, latin, and other international dance (even a little swing!) into an hour-long cardio workout. I enjoyed the party atmosphere of these classes with high energy from a room full of dancers.
A few months after I started attending these classes, I decided to get trained to teach them. While that step was exciting, the possibilities were also scary. How could I teach a dance class without a long history of dance training? My self-confidence lagged behind my enthusiasm as I completed the certification to become an instructor.
When I auditioned to teach at a fitness club, I was incredibly nervous. I don’t remember ever having been that nervous. It seems so silly, but I was on a stage, with a class watching and following me, my image projected onto screens around the entire facility. It was quite terrifying.
Getting through that audition was a gift from God. I found myself using the same coping mechanism that got me through AP tests in high school. I just imagined myself at the end of my audition and found the strength to get me through.
After a successful audition, I started teaching classes at the fitness club and now I teach 5 times a week. It’s a wonderful outlet for my creativity, as I get to choose my own music and choreograph my own dances.
But, most of all, it’s an outlet for my long-lost passion. When I dance, a little bit of me comes alive. It’s a powerful and wonderful part of my life and I am so glad that I overcame my fear long enough to achieve my goal of integrating dancing into my life and the lives of others.