Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dance ~ Part 3 (the end, for now)

Yes, my childhood/youth dance card was tarnished and bleak. But later, in my 40s and 50s, the dancer in me left hibernation and found a pathway through folk dance and later recreational ballroom dancing.

It wasn't always easy... I recall taking workshops where the teachers rotated the dancers. It seemed that each time I rotated to a new partner, I saw on his face a look that said, "Oh no, here we go... She's a big one... She won't be a good partner... She must weigh twice as much as me... Maybe I should take a break right now..." Some did take a break. Some discovered that I can dance. Some even sought me out later as a partner. I learned to take the bad with the good, stick with it, keep smiling and above all, enjoy the dance.

For several years, I performed with a Hungarian folk dance group, eventually becoming one of the group's primary choreographers. Performing was tough. The first time on stage, my knees were shaking so much that my dear partner literally had to hold me up. Eventually, I came to enjoy performing very much.

During those two decades, I formed romantic attachments to two different men who were dancers, one which lasted 13 years. He was a big guy, overweight like me. He was/is a great dancer and always in demand as a partner. Guys can be overweight, sweaty, choreography-impaired, humorless, you name it... If they're willing to try, they will always have a dance partner. For us gals, it's a bit more difficult. When I started ballroom dancing, I got used to asking men to dance with me, which was a bit tough on the ego, but which got me on the dance floor.

I look back on those 20 years of dance as a primary focus in my life and am thankful for the courage and serendipitous circumstances that helped me to take baby steps out of hibernation. That phase of my life ended when I met my husband (who will not/does not dance) and moved to an island where there really isn't any venue for dancing. It's OK. I'm willing to trade dance for my marriage... and I still dance by myself sometimes, especially in my studio.

Going back to the start of Part 1, I wrote: "I guess if I'm ever going to recover (as they put it in OA), I have to face the D word... Dance." I've told the stories. Now what is it I need to face?

I think it's my bitterness and anger about what happened and about being overweight and large. Perhaps a 10-things list is in order. OK... Ten Things I'm Willing to Forgive and Leave Behind:
  1. I forgive you, Mr. Andahazi, Mr. Russian ballet master. You taught me body carriage and how to move in time to music. I'm sure you did not intend to harm me when you told my parents I was not suited to ballet. You were right... I am not.
  2. I forgive you, Mom and Dad. You did not understand how important it was to me that you see our modern dance performance. You tried to make it up to me later by traveling all the way across the country to see me perform folk dance on several occasions. You were kind and attentive to my needs in countless ways.
  3. I forgive you, stage helpers, for the mix-up about our costumes.
  4. I forgive you, Mrs. Kane, for pushing me back on stage. Although I was humiliated at the time, it was the right thing to do. Maybe it's partly the reason why I was able to perform later in life. So thank you!
  5. I forgive myself for holding this anger and shame inside for all these years.
  6. I forgive myself for all the years I overate and binged, especially for how doing so continually hampered me from blossoming as a dancer.
  7. I forgive myself for any erroneous assumptions I may have made regarding male dance teachers, choreographers and partners. I assumed the worst, that they all dreaded working with me. I admit it's possible that some of them didn't have any negative feelings at all.
  8. I forgive those men who have a preference for dancing with small, attractive women even if they aren't really very good dancers.
  9. I forgive myself for hibernating, shyness and holding back.
  10. I forgive myself for limiting my own potential in dance by holding onto shame, fear and resentments from the past.

Ooooh, that felt good!!!! Now I can let the subject of dance rest for a while. The only other thing to do is to put my word-arms around Little Peacefulbird, hug her tightly, rock her gently and tell her I understand how wounded she was and how proud I am of her for allowing dance to emerge again and even flourish after many years of hiding.


  1. This is an amazing end to the story. Or a new beginning to the new dance chapter:)

  2. Oh, how your words have helped me. The pureness of your artwork, the honesty of your words, your courageous openness and your ability to nuture the little girl inside has renewed my spirit. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I'm glad you got a chance to reah a pinnacle of success with dancing, but I do hope you'll continue to dance for yourself.

  4. There is much I have to say about these last 3 posts, but the words have not come to me yet. Instead, on this rainy Sunday afternoon, I put on my 2 CDs of Rufus Wainwright performing the entire concert that Judy Garland sang in Carnegie Hall in 1961 (and he performed it in the same hall that she did). For over an hour, I sang along with the CD and danced and danced and danced. Who cares what the neighbors thought.

  5. Here's a {{{{hug}}}} for peacefulbird from me. :)

  6. Yay, you! I'm glad you overcame those feelings of having to hide, and I'm happy you still dance for yourself. You have a great strength in you to be able to give so much forgiveness.


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