Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dance - Part 1

I guess if I'm ever going to recover (as they put it in OA), I have to face the D word... Dance.

At 67 years old and somewhere around 190 pounds, I still have a dancer inside me... All my life... a dancer in me with no outlet, an inner dancer who has only rarely been public, an overweight, sometimes obese, girl/woman hiding a lithe and passionate dancer inside.

I just watched episode 2 of So You Think You Can Dance, which makes me feel my feelings, with tears of joy. I've loved this program and watched every episode since it began. Even my husband, who does not dance and has not ever danced, has developed an interest in seeing young dancers working with excellent choreographers to learn and perform different styles of dance.

What is it about dance? Movement... the body speaking the heart's truth when the mouth is only mute?

As a child my parents took me to The Ballet Russes. Seeing the beautiful grace and electric energy of these dancers at about 4+ years old is still a vivid memory. I felt myself transported into their bodies, my heart into theirs. I wanted to be a dancer, a ballet dancer.

I poured over the performance program and a ballet picture book, practicing the positions in my bedroom with the door closed. My brother and I made crepe paper ballet costumes for the kids in our neighborhood. We showed them how to dance and staged a show for our families on the sidewalk in front of our house.

When I was 8, I finally persuaded my parents to enroll me in ballet lessons. Here is a poem I wrote 15 years ago about those lessons...
You Were Wrong, Mr. Andahazi

I call you back, Mr. Andahazi,
Mr. Russian ballet master,
with spindly legs
and equally spindly heart.
I call you back and place you
in front of a child
who will speak to you now.
You talked to my parents
in my presence
as though I wasn’t there
as though I were
the family puppy –
Look at those feet!
She’s gonna be a big one!

Well, maybe you’re a hot-shot
Russian ballet master, but
you were dead wrong about me.
It wasn’t a waste, Mr. Andahazi,
of my parent’s money
to pay for my dance lessons.

You could see only
the future, the lights,
the stage, the barely fleshed
skeletons of delicate women
held high over the heads
of small men, like you.
Paying money today
to realize an outcome
so many years down the road.
She’s going to be too big
and too tall
, you said,
a waste of your money,
no man will be able
to dance with her
, you said,
take her away,
off with her head.

I pity you, Mr. Andahazi.
You did not see the pure joy
in my heart. You did not
notice or feel or enjoy
the radiance of my love
for those weekly lessons
right there in your studio.

Little girls, you know,
take words like yours
to heart and turn them
into demons which can
prevent us from knowing
our worth and following our bliss.
I wonder if you care?
It doesn’t matter anymore.
You were wrong.
I have always been a dancer.
That is all I have to say.
I call you back, Mr. Andahazi,
Mr. Russian ballet master
with spindly legs
and equally spindly heart.
I call you back and place you
over there, against the wall
to witness the dancer
you tried to squelch
to watch her twirl gracefully
around the dance floor
like Isadora’s scarves
floating and waving in the breeze.
I call you back to notice,
to comprehend your lack of power
over us, the child and me.
You will stand there
and watch me dancing,
behold my pleasure, my delight,
time after time after time.
But I do not see you.
I do not recognize you.
I do not even remember you.
You are not here anymore.
At that time, I thought I'd banished the demons. But tonight, watching my favorite dance show, I felt them tugging on me again. There's more... more dance and self-image and weight stuff... I hope to deal with it in another post or two...


  1. I know that several bloggers dance around their houses. They get joy out of exercising that way. Dance for yourself:)

    I have not watched this week yet but did you see last week with the girl who was "overweight" but typical dancer standards. It tugged at my heartstrings.

  2. I was a big fan of season 1 of ' So you think you can dance ' show, and just have not had time to watch it this season. I plan to watch it on on demand on our cable. I found it very inspiring last season.

    Your experience with ballet lessons was very touching . I knowo what's it's like to be
    'weighed, measured, and found wanting'. I've also known that I was much more than that assessment.

    I love dancing. I've always loved going dancing, though I was never comfortable dancing with someone. All the pressure- if a guy would ask me to dance or if the guy that asked me to dance was doing it as a joke (happened). I prefer to dance with friends in a group or just on my own. It's been a while since I went to a club to dance.

    I have found my inner dancer though through zumba classes at the gym. At my previous gym they were fun, easy to learn and do little dance routines. My new gym 's Zumba class. OMG! Belly dancing, hip hop, salsa ..and the teachers are real dancers. It brings out the inner dancer. It meets all my needs and joy that I liked about going out to clubs without the drama and self conciousness.

    I know you live on an island, but I encourage you to find a way to dance. A yoga or pilates or dance class. Finding who YOU really are-your higher self--makes food obsession so much less important.

  3. I love to dance! I can bust a move while working in the kitchen.

    I understand the demons in our heads. They are mostly the people in our past who squelched us in some way. Don't let Mr. A-what's-his-name's criticism stick with you and make you feel like you can't dance.

    Get in that kitchen with me and bust a move! C'mon... rock down...

  4. I am reminded, having found you here, that we all have stories that shape who we become. We all have experiences that defined the filters of how we interpret people and events. And I am reminded again to meet my fellow human beings with openness and love.

    This is a powerful, powerful blog Peacefulbird. And I have walked beside you as you've taken me through your life. I have felt your pain and willed for your happiness.

    What I admire most, is that through every humiliation or have embraced the gifts of faith and hope...your belief that joy IS possible has kept your soul burning bright.

    I am overwhelmed with joy for you because I can see how you are re-writing the events of your life. You have replaced the filter that life's events helped you to build with a new filter of love and light. And your new history will change your life.

    It is beautiful to witness your newfound love for your grandmother...and for dance.

    Oh, you are dancing, dear Robin. I have never doubted that...just somedays you choose cement blocks for shoes and forget to bring your ballet slippers to life.

    Sometimes I forget my party hat...and instead wear a sack over my head. But the party hat is my true self.

    Your most recent bjp is transformational made more so by the fact that this blog exists. There is a great spirit moving and I see it the more I read your words here.

    I'll be back.

    Much love and happiness and joy,

  5. i have been taking belly dance classes. which i never thought i would do. but it's the only "sport" where a woman is supposed to look like a woman AND it has good costumes! (after being thin all my life i have gained 40 pounds recently and am self conscious and unused to my new body but as one of my fellow belly dancers reminds me the best belly dancers are usually the larger women.

  6. I love your poem. I can feel your pain and anger. I can relate as I had a teacher in sixth grade that put down my art work and it took decades for me to find that artist/child again.

    I also follow "So You Think You Can Dance." I am always amazed at their talent.


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