Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A Way of Life


I groan and complain about having to go every week, but I really do love to dance. Sometimes it is incredibly hard. Injuries are abound (trust me, I know), and some days your body just feels so heavy that all you can do is keep glancing at the clock hoping it's time to go home and crawl into bed.

No matter what anyone says to me, I will hold fast to the fact that dance is a sport. Seriously. I'd love to see the people who insist it isn't do what we do every week. With the way I eat, if I didn't dance, I would weigh about 300 kilograms. But I don't, I'm built like a bean pole and at least three quarters of my build has to be attributed to the 16 years of my life I have spent dancing.

My parents put me in dance the year I turned 3. It wasn't for any special reason - like how most gymnasts were put into gymnastics because of their extraordinary energy. They just thought I would like it. And I did!

I'm now almost 19, and I have really come into my own with my dancing. I'm not the most coordinated, I don't have rock hard abs like some of the girls in my class (I'm working on it though), I'm actually rather lanky and look really awkward if I don't take special care with my technique (standing at almost 5'9, I'm telling you, it takes a LOT of work), but there is something totally liberating about dancing.

I currently learn the styles of jazz, tap, hip-hop, and acrobats. Out of the four, acrobats is definitely my favourite. I was gifted with a naturally elastic back, which means I can manage all sorts of fun little tricks that lots of the other girls can't.

Dance comes with a price though. I have sacrificed the ability to go a day without feeling an ache somewhere. I have this awesome ability to injure myself. It's actually become a bit of a running gag at dancing. Sharon (the teacher) is just used to it now. Over the years, I have accumulated many bruises, sore spots, and other weird little injuries. As I got older, however, I started becoming more aware of what I'd actually done. This is the running tally at the moment.

  • Subluxated my left shoulder doing a backflip. I have been told by my doctor that when I did that, I actually partially tore my rotator cuff (he can see the scar tissue on my x-ray), but because my shoulder was just achy and I still had full range of motion afterwards, I never got it checked out. To this day, I don't trust my shoulder doing certain things but I cope rather well.
  • Sprained my ankle doing an aerial cartwheel because I came down so short and low that I severely overflexed my ankle when I hit the floor and tore the ligament. Again, even though I was limping, I didn't get that checked. I iced it, and walked it off. I had had many short landings before that gave my ankle a bit of a jolt, and assumed I'd done it again. I do see an osteopath who has gradually reinjured the scarred ligament and helped me heal it correctly. No, I'm not reckless. I actually have a reasonably high pain tolerance. I have to when you read the next point.
  • Developed neuritis which radiates from underneath my left shoulder blade and down my back. This was caused by an invisible virus which did nothing but give me EXCRUCIATING back pain in January last year. I thought it was bad posture causing it because when the pain started, I literally couldn't straighten my back up all the way, but I still had to go to work. There is nothing they can do to actually get rid of this, but it's ok because it doesn't flare up too often. If I get stressed out, upset, or don't watch my posture properly, it starts to flare up. All I can do is manage my pain with painkillers when I have a flare.
  • Punched the floor (intentionally) during a contemporary dance and gave myself a blackened wrist for a week. That hurt.
  • About two weeks ago, during a tap routine, I misplaced a movement and hit myself in the bony part of my big toe joint with the metal plate of the tap shoe. Since then, my foot has had a bit of a stabbing pain during certain movements, but tonight when I landed a leap, there was this agonising shot of pain through my foot, so there may be a slight fracture in my foot that I will definitely get checked out if my foot gets any worse by tomorrow.
So...dance is not all pretty costumes and well executed movements. It's a shit ton of sore muscles, sweat, hard work, and determination.

I never fully understood how emotion can fuel dance until the other day. I had a bit of a...I don't know. Let's just call it heartbreaking, moment on Sunday. I wasn't exactly angry, maybe a tiny bit pissed off, but I was mostly numb. 

Come Monday, I was feeling weird. Like...pissed off but in the most energising way ever. All I wanted to do was dance. So when I got home and my mum left to take my sisters to dancing, I turned on the cover of 'Chandelier' by PVRIS and absolutely danced my heart out.

I can safely say I have NEVER danced like that in my life. I improvised an entire contemporary/lyrical routine and it was the most emotional dance I have ever done. And I would gladly go for it again.

Dance can be a life saver. For me, it's a part of my life. Since I was 3 years old, I have danced. Even when I quit dance for good to move into the future, I will always call myself a dancer.