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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sharing the Art, Moving in Joy

    I used to think that I danced because I had to. Because it was me. Like I owed it to Past Sarah to keep dragging myself to classes and auditions, hanging on to shreds of hope that my dream of making a living from dancing would come true. Some of my training environments (and personal mindsets) caused me to focus so much on the ends that I often lost sight of the value of the means. As I  struggled to find my "niche" (or, as Eric Matthews might say, my "niece") as a dancer for so many years, all with the goal of getting a job to validate all my years of hard work, I kept hitting dead ends.I tried shove myself into dancer categories--from ballerina, to theatre dancer, to modern dancer--thinking one of these techniques would be "The One." I had no problem finding my soulmate at age eighteen, but figuring out what kind of dancer I was felt beyond my grasp. 
 Over the past few months, it's grown clearer and clearer that to be a successful dancer I have to stop trying to make myself, and my career, fit some idealized mold I've created for myself. I have to let myself be me.
   And I am a ballet dancer.
     A contemporary ballet dancer, but a ballet dancer in some weird, completely messed up fashion. It feels good to admit that to myself. After some really horrible psychological breakdowns related to ballet and the anxiety I felt (until recently) whenever I took class or put on a pair of pointe shoes, I became afraid of what would happen to me mentally, if I pursued a ballet career, even in the contemporary realm. But I'm not a scared fourteen year old anymore and I'm ready to conquer my self-doubt. I can't fail, because I've already succeeded, in some respect. I succeed just by growing as a person and a dancer, by sharing the art, and moving in joy.
   Since joining In-Sight Dance Company just a couple of months ago, I've learned so much about real artistry and the power of dance. I aim, more and more, to make my dancing not about any kind of selfish goal, but about communication, outreach, joy, and even worship. The commitment and sense of community present in the company completely shattered all of my preconceptions about "real" dance companies. I expected the competitiveness and occasional hostility I've experienced in other performing arenas, but instead found a welcoming, supportive, completely dedicated group of artists. I am so blessed to be a part of such a worthwhile and amazing company, and our performances this weekend reminded me that sharing our love of dance with others--if only for a few moments in time--makes all the pain, stress, and fear worthwhile.

   Man, when did I get so serious and artist-y? Please don't let me write any more of these introspective dance-related posts, unless they're dripping with satire.


  1. How wonderful that you've rediscovered the joy of dance, Sarah, and that you are now a part of this amazing dance company! As a neo-Aristotelian, I'll note that genuine self-love (in Aristotle's sense in his discussion of character friendship) is precisely what allows for joy and harmonious connectedness with others through the activities one loves. So there need not be any conflict between self-concern and other-regard.... It's interesting that you "move in joy" exactly when you let yourself be you.

    And please do be serious and artist-y rather than satirical; your sincerity and moral earnestness suit you well!

  2. Though I think you're good at writing satire, I very much enjoy these kinds of posts as well. I'm glad you've discovered these things- ultimately life is about serving God and finding happiness and the more you know about yourself, the easier that is.