Rekindling my Love for Dance with a Yogic Philosophy
There was a time in my life when the way that dance was happening in my life was not conducive to my overall wellness. I was in college as a dance major. College for me was anxiety, depression, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. Although I loved spending hours every day in the studio, it wasn't a good fit for me. I could not sit through my other classes, that I had no interest in. I needed to be moving. I would daydream about driving away and starting an epic adventure by myself. About flying to other countries and soaking everything in. My dance classes were fun, but often stressful. In the dance world, there is a huge pressure to be perfect. To be skinny, to have a nice turn out, to turn effortlessly on your toes, and perform movements that are not always anatomically correct. There was always a fear of not being thin enough, not picking up on choreography quick enough, and not executing movements perfectly. I dropped out as yoga was weaving its way back into my life.
I got to spend an amazing few years learning, traveling, teaching yoga, exploring. I wouldn't change it for anything. But I wasn't really dancing. I missed it. I'm a mover. Movement for me is therapy. Movement therapy allows me to release, feel, express, create, accept, work through, heal... Now that I've experienced these things, learned and grew, I view dance differently. Although it is a beautiful art form, it is not only
art. It is not only about the end result. It's about the process. It's about all that's happening with your mind-body-soul while you're dancing.
My goal when going to college for dance was to someday open a dance studio. At the time of dropping out, I very depressingly assumed that I was also dropping my dream of opening a studio. As someone who has loads of passion but not A+ technique, I felt I needed college to achieve that goal. What I really needed, and what I found, was my missing piece- the yogic philosophy. Ahimsa (non-harming), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness/ non-jealousy), Brahmacharya (preserving/maintaining vitality). These are all ideas that are interwoven into dance for me now. Non-harming; moving in a way that works with my natural alignment, and not using hateful self-talk. Truthfulness; how is my movement being honest? Is this particular movement a truthful expression, or simply a go-to? Asteya; Creating authentic choreography, not stealing it from someone else. Non-jealousy; being happy and proud of someone who is doing well rather than being jealous. Vitality; Eating good foods, taking care of yourself mentally/emotionally, physically, spiritually. Remembering that your overall well being comes first.
Finally, dance worked it's way back into my life. I was on a trip to Canada to teach at the beautiful Yoga Vieux Montreal. At night, the studio is Milan Pole Dance, and I jumped on the opportunity to take a class. Although it was my first pole dancing class, I felt at home to be dancing again. I decided then that I needed to incorporate dance back into my life, in whatever form. I came home and started taking various non-traditional classes- pole dance, lyra, aerial barre, and improv. The aerial arts classes were challenging but fun and playful- something so important. The improv teacher came from a post-modern background, and her class was everything I loved lumped into one. We explored ourselves, our space, we connected with others without using words, we created. This year I also choreographed and performed to a poem that I'd been meaning to choreograph to for years. Now, when I flow at home, I use breathe work while I dance, I combine dance and yoga to flow freely, and move intuitively. Finally, dance is a peaceful piece of my life.
Now I'm still planning on opening a studio, but with an entirely different mindset. The goal is to open a yoga and dance studio, with yogic philosophy and modern dance as a backbone. I've let go of a personal deadline to open the studio by 25. I'd rather take more time growing as a teacher, mover, and person, and let it unfold when it's meant to. I'm grateful that life took me on this weird journey to get to where I am now- exactly where I was before, while simultaneously entirely different. I can't wait to someday create a studio-home for others to move freely.
Video is the piece I choreographed and performed at a benefit show in January 2017, to a poem called OCD by Neil Hilborn.