I shouldn't be a dancer
Like really, who let me do this?
Standing at 5'10 and a number of pounds that any dance company would turn their nose up at, it certainly is a strange career I've been drawn to.
Despite my battles with mental health and a cycle of half-baked interests that never seemed to stick, dance was always my constant happiness. I knew that even if I wasn’t going to be good enough to dance professionally, I wanted to devote my life to dance in any way I could.
I'll be a senior in college next year, attending school for a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography and a minor in Business Administration. Though, I'd rather say I'm majoring in Trying to Be Good at Dance with a minor in Crying.
It's hard. I stress frequently about having to tell people I’m a dance major. I don’t exactly look like a dance major; I’m too tall, not the ideal body type either. I worry what people think when I tell them, what they will think when they look me up and down before and after they find out my major. Then, after that, comes the immediate demand for my whole career plan. What can you even do with that? Do you want to dance professionally? What are you going to do after college if you don’t dance professionally? I feel as though I have a teleprompter behind my eyes, my tried and true answers to assuage the fears that even strangers seem to have about my future. I wish there was an easy way to make people understand dance, and why we love it enough to make it our life work.
Overall, being a dance major has not been the sunshine and rainbows that outsiders expect. Dance majors don’t have to sit in classrooms and memorize equations and stay up until the crack of dawn studying, why should they complain? In reality, our struggles are different from other students but just as prevalent. The study of dance is an unforgiving discipline. Dance hurts. Mentally and physically. People in the industry are cruel. I've been called fat, too tall, told to quit, told I don't "match" other girls. Physically, I've had ankle surgery, sprains, bruises, torn cartilage, dislocated SI joint, bruised toenails, the works.
I make it sound awful. It is. But at the same time, dancing feels like breath in my lungs. It feels like life and joy and beauty and art flowing through me, and when I get to go onstage and share my work with others.... nothing compares. I can't imagine life without it.
I can’t say I’m loving every second of it, or that every struggle I’ve faced even had a silver lining. I can say that my passion is unshaken and no matter what happens I am grateful to dance, grateful to create, and grateful to grow. There is no one way to classify dance, as its forms are infinite across cultures and history. However, if pressed to boil the broad concept of dance down to the bare essentials, I would say that humans use dance to honor life. Humans use dance to create, to express emotion, to entertain, to celebrate religion and culture- all important pillars of our lives can be expressed through dance, even death. Not only that, dance is a physical celebration of movement and human ability, the things we can achieve with effort and passion. All dance, from tribal dance to Graham, is in some way an embodiment of human experience. I want to share that with others, I want to keep going. I want to devote my life wholly to moving and creating and loving the world through the lens of art.