Are you a dancer? Were you a dancer in a past life? Are you the mum or dad of a dancer?
Then you will completely get what I am about to explain.
Those conversations…..you know the ones. The ones where your colleague at work talks about dancers as prissy girly girls who float around, waving their arms and standing on their toes. The ones where your sport loving, jogger wearing, competitive friend tells you that you should pull back on your daughter’s dance so that she can be involved in a more ‘team’ based sport….you know, learn some life skills.
The ones where you just bite your tongue and smile, because it’s really not worth the argument. The ones where you just smile inwardly because as a dancer, an ex dancer or a parent of a dancer…..you know better.
You’ve seen the dedication. You’ve seen the commitment. And you’ve seen the obsession.
It’s hard to explain to people…...the huge part of your person that being a dancer is.
But as I’ve watched my 13 year old daughter, who also happens to be one of these obsessed dance types, recover from surgery and abstain from dance for six months, I have come to realise….even more than my ex dancer, never quite made it, dance loving self realises…..just how much more than a choice, dance is.
When you are a dancer, it is part of who you are. A part of what makes you, you.
The first three months were not too bad. Those first three months, when we didn’t quite realise just how serious her injury (which ironically enough, was not caused by dance), was. Then came the multiple appointments. Physio, GP, back to physio, back to GP, first surgeon, second surgeon, third surgeon…..discussions about different surgery possibilities. A number of extremely scary scenarios presented to us, the final choice by surgeon number 3 four months later…...and then lengthy recovery……
And you know what was the worst for her?
Not knowing when she could dance again.
She cried once for all of about 5 minutes when they finally decided on surgery…..but other than that, not being able to be given a timeframe on when she could dance again was absolute hell for her.
And then tonight, I saw a photo. A photo of the night I gave in and let her take part in a dance photo shoot. 4 physio pre-approved positions that she could do and take part in the photo shoot. On the beach, with all of her dance friends (and the possibility of some beautiful shots of my girl), how could I say no!
And the photo that I just saw summed it all up.
There was one friend to start with. With her head back and her hair whipping across her face, her body exuding the pure freedom that dance allows. No limits, no inhibitions, no judgment…..just a bunch of dancers on the beach and my daughter’s beautiful friend expressing herself with the freedom of a dancer.
Intensity & Emotion
Another…...her strong gaze emanating the emotion and determination that every dancer works with. Dance is not just a skill. It is not a competition, or a performance. It is an art. And the hard work and commitment that each of these amazing girls displays is shown in the eyes, the strength and the placement of this dancer. It’s not about the costumes, or the make up or the concerts…..it’s about the emotion, and the portrayal and the intensity.
And then comes my girl…...my girl who has not been allowed to do so much as a tendu for 6 months. Who has gone and watched every dance class that she cannot do, because she would rather watch her friends dance when she can’t, than not have dance in her life at all. The simple pose, the beautifully placed arms…...but the smile and the pure joy as she was allowed, even if it was just for an hour, to be a dancer again. Those few hours when this huge part of who she is was allowed to step back into her life. It has been like a huge part of my girl is missing for 6 months….and in this one photo, I realised just how huge that missing part has been.
Dance is not just a hobby. It is not just something that these girls do for fitness. Whether it becomes a career or not. Whether it continues after school or not. The freedom, the emotion and the pure joy that a dancer gets from dance……
That’s what it is all about.
Photo credit -
little glimpses photography