An Open Letter to Dance

Dear Dance,

Thank you for saving my life. We’ve had a love/hate relationship since I was little. There were moments that I thought I was over you and didn’t need you anymore, and then there were times that I needed you to survive. You’ve introduced me to people who would change my life, to music that will forever move me and to artists that I will love forever. The love between me and you is epic.

I’m not the conventional dancer. Calling myself a dancer is probably an insult to real dancers. I was enrolled in ballet, tap and jazz when I was three and hated it. Like many things in my childhood, I quit and never looked back. I was done with you and thought I had kicked you out of my life forever. But you had other plans. I didn’t even realize that dance had always been with me until I was about sixteen. Watching the Mickey Mouse Club when I was nine and learning the hip hop routines in front of the TV was a normal activity. Watching Janet Jackson’s 1997 Velvet Rope tour and learning almost every dance was nothing, until one day I woke up and realized that dance was what I wanted to do. My basement became my studio. Everyday I would stand in front of the TV and sweat. Press pause, rewind, play and repeat to learn each step and turn and then burst in to tears if I couldn’t get it right away. But I always got it, it might have taken a while but I always learned the moves. To this day, I can do routines I learned when I was ten years old. Choreography to me is like riding a bike, I never forget.

At seventeen, I went back to you. I signed up for a hip hop class and for the next three years, I was fully immersed in the community. Class became my life at a time when I needed it the most. It gave me something to look forward to, teachers to look up to and a standard of dance to aspire for and work hard to achieve. But when I say you saved my life, it was during my first year of university and I was struggling. Everyday was so hard. But then I start this class with a teacher who inspired my heart and made every single class a memory.

Every dance class since has paled in comparison. But my love for you has remained. Because of you, I have taken classes from famous choreographers, met dancers who have danced for Justin Timberlake and dancers from So You Think You Can Dance. Because of you I am a fan of Janet Jackson for life, her music, live shows and choreography have brought endless amounts of happiness in my life. Because of you, I consider myself a slave to the rhythm. There are certain songs that I listen to and cannot for the life of me stay still. Along with seeing dance, I hear it. Every move has a sound to it. As Jennifer Lopez once said, if a song can move me in some way, then I’ll like it.

Now that I’m grown and have in some ways moved on, you will always be a part of my life. I don’t go to class every week, I’ll never dance in a music video or make top ten on SYTYCD, I can barely lift my leg in the air but I feel every bit the dancer.

So thank you dance, for pulling me out of dark times, giving me something to do on boring Sunday afternoons and bringing joy in to my life. I’ll never, ever forget you.

Love,
Amanda

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