Falling Down

Up until the end of Grade Eleven, I had very little experience with modern dance. I’d taken one term of modern classes, and I’d found the technique interesting but slightly uncomfortable. And then I went to Walnut Hill…and everything changed.

This technique was completely different —it flowed. It was all about breath and weight and swinging the body like a pendulum. And it felt completely right on my body. I can’t express in words how much I adored (STILL adore) this style. I took every class I could get…and 13 years later, I still remember half the warmup exercises.

This is the only real example photo I have…but you can kind of see the swing and get a sense of the release, I think.


I have a great memory of a modern class where we were doing a difficult combination across the floor. I threw myself into the final turn…and fell on my butt. I got up, bright red, and looking at the teacher in desperate apology for “failing.” She smiled at me, turned to the class and said “See? Meg threw so much energy into the dance that she lost control. And that’s good. I want you all to attack this phrase with as much passion as Meg.” (OK, fine, I just paraphrased, but you get the idea). She gave me a suggestion about form and how to harness the energy more efficiently and told me to try again.

And suddenly I was on top of the world. I ran back to try the combination again, and this time I danced with all my might…and didn’t fall.

How often do we make mistakes and then beat ourselves over the head with them? How often do we avoid trying something for fear of making a mistake or failing (however we define that failure)?

What would it be like if we could approach our own dances —physical, mental, or emotional— the way that my modern teacher approached my dance? What would that look like to you?

To me it would look like trying 100%, really leaping in with all of my might. It would look like expressing myself with passion and flowing through the movements and not worrying so much about the “scary” parts…just…MOVING JOYFULLY.

It would look…a little scary at the start…but pretty darn awesome once I got going.

And if I fell…at least I’d know that I was dancing with all of my might.

5 thoughts on “Falling Down”

  1. OK, this is *not* strictly dance-related, but this wonderful post (and I think this is one of my favourites of yours, Meg!) made me think of a little girl in my neighbourhood. She’s almost four and loves to run, full-tilt, with no regard for obstacles. Her parents always always ALWAYS tell her to “slow down! stop running! you’ll FALL!” and then she does. Every time.

    I have often wondered, if they encouraged her and applauded her and agreed that running is fun, just how far she could go with it. Because she is clearly one of nature’s runners. But their fear is holding her back.

    You’re delightful. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    1. Thanks, Hannah! I think this is one of my favourites too 🙂
      Oh man, poor kid. That has to be hard. I understand that as a parent it’s hard to watch your kid do something that might get him/her hurt, but there’s a fine line between protecting (don’t run in traffic or into a tree) and OVER protecting (don’t run at all). I worry that sometimes I go in the opposite direction from those parents…but that’s another story!

      I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving too! xox

  2. This is something I need to work on for sure. Fear holding me back has been an all-too-common theme in my life.

    Nice post, Meg!

    1. ME TOO. It’s a theme that’s cropping up for me right now…I’m glad it resonated with other people too!

  3. I went to a yoga class once where we just went across the studio floor, standing in tadasana and let our bodies fall forward like a stiff until we had to stumble our way out of the fall. Then we did it backward! It was a lesson in learning to let go but also knowing how to “catch” yourself to prevent injury. It was such a novel exercise for a yoga class but really got the point across.

    Fall away!

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