My first voluntary exposure to partner dancing came almost two years ago, in December of 2008, but I didn’t consider myself a dancer until the following March, when I attended my first dance exchange, Steel City Blues Festival. That weekend was when I realised completely that I was going to be dancing for as long as I am physically able and “dancer” became part of my identity.
At the time of Steel City 2009, I was a “baby dancer;” completely green, having had three nights of dancing prior to being diagnosed with appendicitis and having my appendix removed February 16, a mere five weeks before the exchange I was already committed to. Still in pain from the incisions made in my core to remove my diseased organ, I carpooled with two friends to Pittsburgh, PA and participated in two days of workshops and three nights of dancing. We closed out the late night dances every night, leaving between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning.
Appendectomy aside, it was the most physically intense weekend of my life (to that point). My calves felt like they were made of wood, and each morning when I woke up, I had to remember how to move my body in a walking motion. It was glorious. I could not have been happier.
In the year and half since that exchange, I have done a lot of things. I’ve attended several dozen exchange weekends, I’ve attended countless beginner workshops, and worked one-on-one with a number of instructors and in small groups that offer honest critique. My dancing has improved enormously, and my physical ability has transformed me to a different person. Dancing is part of my every day, and I love it.
(It’s important to me that I remember that dancing is not the ONLY thing that is a part of me. The time I spend with my family, with my friends, attending local events, and reading on my own is just as valuable to me as the time I spend dancing. I know a lot of dancers who are surprised when they realise that I have non-dancer friends. Often, when the subject comes up, they get a lost sort of look on their face and say, a little dazedly, “I had non-dancer friends, once, too….” This is usually followed by a moment as they try to resurrect the part of them that remembers life before dancing. While I love that dancing is so much at the forefront of my life, I have no intention of giving up nights making dinner with friends, afternoons curled up in my favorite reading chair, or trips downtown for ice cream with my little brother or sister.)
The point of this blog, aside from indulging my narcissistic side, is to allow my friends and family, particularly those who do not dance, to follow where I go, figuratively and physically, as I continue to dance.