I think it is quite possible I had some kind of breakdown during my dance class this evening. Here is what happened, to begin a little background is in order to put the whole situation in context. I attended a class Tuesday night where all was well right up until dance politics reared its ugly head and segregation began. I as per usual it seems was relegated to the back row, left standing and place holding for the dancers who would enter the stage after the scene was prepared by my comrades and I for them. This instantly left me feeling disheartened, insulted and sad. This favoritism and unequal distribution of roles and ‘spots’ (a dance term for your position on the stage) removed all joy from dancing that night and I continued with the last unenthused and uninterested.
I was not alone in feeling this way and so today my friend and I met for lunch and reflected upon the matter, possibly in a borderline gossipy manner. This evening I attended another class. This time with a different choreographer and style. My spirits were high, I went into the class excited, clean slate and all. I completed the warm up, participated fully, giving my all and pushing myself, enjoying the class.
Here lies the turning point in my story. It is at this point in the choreographing process when the skeleton of the dance has been created that people need to be given spots in order to space the dance. Instantly I was on edge. As the choreographer began placing people in position, slowly calling names, allocating spots, I stepped to the edge of the room allowing for the others to find their places and give room for the dancers to take their stage and anticipating the inevitable. One by one each dancers name was called and as we arrived at the final three dancers I knew once again I would be last. It was right then that I began upset. There was a sudden hit of emotion that over came me, unexpected and powerful, a culmination of current events and past experiences. I looked on as my peers stood poised and ready, spread out in a perfect pattern on the floor. Myself and my two fellow forgotten dancers were left at the side, clearly an inconvenience. The choreographer paced and looked, trying to picture where to slot the final dancers in. Then I was alone, the others taking their corners. I stood, watched and waited.
It hit me so suddenly, this feeling of being unwanted, unworthy. I was finally squeezed into the number, in the back line, outside corner, a location all to familiar to me. I hadn’t realized how acutely this seemingly innocent action effected me. As I walked to my spot I burst into hysterical laughter. I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t tell you where it came from but I just laughed a side splitting, buckled, no holds back over kind of a laugh. The room turned to me genuinely confused and that spurred on me even more. I had no explanation for my laughter, what could I say. I calmed myself, took my place and felt very sad indeed. I may have been laughing but I was also swelling with tears. I am writing this because it took me so by surprise, this overwhelming emotion. I also feel the need though to stress that something wonderful happened.
As I stood and waited for the music to begin. I had a realization. It was so profound to me as not only was I in a state of heightened emotion and charged awareness but I was also in tune with a part of myself I often suppress. The part of me that was a very committed full time dancer. I had a moment tonight, standing in that class, in my spot, waiting to dance where I felt so different to the dancer I used to be. Stronger, more certain. I used to be so afraid, so intensely eager to please that I would destroy myself and be so unbelievably hard on myself. Clearly this self inflicted pressure was left bottled and tonight the cork finally blew. I am glad though, the timing was right. Tonight I stood there and I knew who I was. I told myself that showing them tears was doing a disservice to myself. I am better than that, I am more than the tall girl they see, I don’t deserve to be put in the back constantly because I am physically different. I am a good dancer, I enjoy what I do and no matter where I am put I will shine because I know I am worth more than what I am dealt. I accepted the situation, I smiled and I chose not to hold a grudge, not to be disheartened and lose motivation in the class or slack in my attempts at the routine. I decided to show them who I am through my actions and my professionalism. I danced and although I was of course still sad and hurting I did enjoy myself. That is why I go to class to bring joy into my day.
This was such a small thing, a very quick interaction but it meant a lot to me, most people won’t understand this situation specifically but the emotion I felt is very relatable. It was feeling of being different, of not having a place and not being recognized. It is a feeling of no matter how hard you try it is never good enough, you are never seen. I feel relieved this happened tonight and also proud of the internal monologue I had at the time. I like the person I am and I will continue to dance because it makes me happy. I felt what I felt and it was intense but it also showed me more of who I am and for that I am grateful. I may now be seen as not only the tall girl but also as the crazy laughing person but what does it matter? I walked home from class satisfied with the work I’d done, tired and moving at a slow pace from exertion and thought to myself ‘I need to smile’. It wasn’t that serious a situation, it was cathartic. Life I short, I did enjoy my evening, despite it all and now I will learn from what I felt. I was very exposed tonight, my emotions laid bear. The honesty of the whole experience felt good and I felt a more free person as a result, uninhibited and determined more than ever to make the most of the gifts and time I have, who cares what confused on lookers think. I will live my life how I choose and smile as much as possible. So I twirled my umbrella, sang out loud as I made my way home dancing in the rain.