When Jess asked me to write about my transition from dancer to pedestrian (pronounced “pedestrain” by a former American director of ours who had an inexplicable and unplaceable European-ish accent…), I was a little nervous that I would have trouble being balanced in my approach.
For starters, one of the most common responses I get when someone finds out I used to be a “ballerina” is “Awww, are you sad that you don’t dance anymore?”
So, disclaimer: for the most part, and I’m being brutally honest here, I don’t really miss it that much. Let me explain.
Things I Definitely Do Not Miss:
1. Being constantly concerned about what I look like in the mirror. (“I need to lose 20 lbs!”, “My hips are so wide…I wonder if there is procedure where they can just shave down the bone a little bit..?!”)
Because now, it’s more like this:
2. Being poor.
However, I am glad that I got to experience that level of broke-ness, because now I get to enjoy…:
3. Being told what to do every literal step of the way.
Even now, I think I struggle with making small decisions, like where I am going to go eat:
4. Having some part of my body always in pain. (sore, twisted, pulled, strained, blistered, ingrown, bruised, etc.)
5. Not having a life outside of dance (even all my friends were dancers):
But before I get too cynical…(probably too late), there are some things I do miss:
1. Being flexible. My current situation:
2. Being coordinated. The other day I tried to do an en dehors pirouette from 4th in the kitchen…result:
After I stopped dancing, I did a complete 180, and nowadays, I am an attorney. While I don’t dance anymore, I still love to watch it. I had one too many glasses of wine last week, and somehow found myself with an Amazon cart full of: ABT’s Le Corsaire, Jiri Kylian’s Black and White Ballets, Royal Ballet’s La Bayadere, and Mats Ek’s Sleeping Beauty.
I go to dance performances as often as I can. Recently: Ballet Arizona’s Napoli (Meh.) and Nederlands Dans Theatre (OMFG. Soooooo good. So good. No seriously do everything you can to see them live.)
The biggest thing I’ve learned in my transition is that being a dancer does not have to be your all-consuming identity. I will always love and appreciate dance. The moment I realized that my world would not come to an end if I quit dancing, I was free. Free to love other parts of myself, and free to love the beauty of dance as a spectator without a chip on my shoulder. That is certainly not to say that my journey is universal or anyone else’s truth but my own. (My relationship with dance was probably more unhealthy than others’ experiences.) I am glad that I got to experience the life of a dancer, but I am not sad that it is over. I am perfectly content watching all you crazy kids out there dance your asses off.