Crossing One Big Thing Off My Bucket List

If you’re a cowboy and you’re dragging a guy behind your horse, I bet it would really make you mad if you looked back and the guy was reading a magazine.”- Jack Handy

I say, depends on the Magazine. If you are in St. Louis, you should try to find/buy/steal the October issue of St. Louis Magazine. Why? For the feature on the upcoming ‘New Dance Horizons’ showcase which has a picture of guess who? Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company! Just in case you don’t have this Rag-mag at your general disposal, enjoy basking in the warm glow of the company’s internet image and feature via this site and this link.

Pretty exciting stuff- even if I am giving weird side-eye in the photo. I have to admit, while I’m a fan of St. Louis Magazine, it’s not the publication I’ve been wishing to find myself in since my pre-teen years. That glossy-papered dream belongs to Dance Magazine. I remember being eleven years old and leafing through the huge stack of this publication that sat on the side table near the back studio at Alexandra School of Ballet , especially after lunch during our summer intensive. My first year with the Junior Company, I wasn’t particularly good at making friends and while most of my fellow young dancers socialized, I ate in a huge hurry, planted myself in front of the studio door and would escape into the binding- a transformed world of costumes and theatres and debuts. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, people really grow up to become dancers. I am going to be one of them and some day, I’m going to prove it to everyone by being in this magazine”. Maybe it’s silly, but I’ve even saved the pages, articles, and covers that I’ve had autographed- such as this one from 1997 with Illiana Lopez from Miami City Ballet 

I apologize for the ridiculous photoshop job, I had to contrast it this much to make the signature- which has begun to fade over the past ten years- show

I hero-worshipped the dancers in these pages but more than wanting to be them, I wanted that strange public validation for myself. I used to dream about what pose I’d make as the photographer snapped away, what dazzling costume I’d wear, how I’d send copies to all of my friends and relatives.

The October Issue of Dance Magazine has made my youthful fantasy come true. In it you will find a wonderful article written by my friend and fellow dance teacher- Alice Bloch– describing the New Horizons show with a picture of Common Thread dancers in action. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have envisioned in any fantasy that I’d be facing the back, in a strange ‘in-between Horton lateral T and a la second’ pose, or wearing normal warm-ups. Wait, did I say normal? That leotard is velvet, brown, and covered in sparkles. There is really nothing normal about that kind of daywear. In fact, there’s nothing normal about this dream, or the fact that it actually came true.

 My eleven year old self is checking off this ‘to-do’ on my life list with pride, even if the aging me is laughing a little at her. More than the idea of success or fame, having your picture in Dance Magazine meant to me that you had transformed from ‘average person’- or ‘occasionally lonely midwestern girl’ to DANCER- something separate, special, and much more glamorous. The magazine, while lovely and yes I’ll be buying a bunch of them, is a nice reminder of a fact that I already know; a symbol beyond my own physical body that I can point to and say, yes I am a dancer. But none of us really need the paper to prove it to ourselves; it’s an intrinsic knowledge that the bones, the heart can recognize. And good thing too, since I’m facing the wrong way in my all-important picture and I’m willing to bet even my aunts and uncles wouldn’t recognize me from my butt. It’s odd how the feeling of knowing that a life goal has been accomplished can change even if the dream is still the same- I’m still hoping to grow up and be a dancer (in no particular order).

Please let me in your club!

Keep dreaming and doing until those dreams come true. And then keep going- xo, Jess

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