This video is what happens when you really want to make a dance video, but your husband is sick in bed. Please pay no attention to the adorable toddler playing with an iPad in the background.
I love this song. I love this song. I love love love this song. And that posed a major problem: when I thought about filming it, I became very concerned that my actual movement wouldn’t accurately reflect the dance in my head. I listened to the music again and again, and I kept thinking, “Maybe I should wait and try this one when I’m in better shape. Take a few months to, you know, work out, so I’m good enough to do it.”
…it made me wonder if that one thought wasn’t largely responsible for my lack-of-dancing over the past too-many-years…the pain of “not good enough” and putting off creativity until I felt worthy of it…
Here’s the thing: a dance (or book or painting or poem or piece of music) in your head may be perfect and magical in its amazingness. It may feel good to take that thought out and polish it and marvel at its sheer awesomeness. It may feel scary as hell to even attempt to make it real. But the truth is that until that idea is brought out into the world, made real in all of its inevitable imperfection…it’s just thoughts. It has no life of its own.
I struggled with this piece. I struggled with the dancing and the editing and the child-minding. And it’s not an accurate reflection of what was in my brain when i envisioned it.
But you know what? It’s here. It’s out here in the world. You can experience it along with me.
And that makes it bigger and better than my perfect thoughts. It’s unique in its real-ness, both like and unlike my vision, with a life of its own. I am so proud of it.
I didn’t meant to take as long as I did between videos. But giving myself permission to rest and not pressure myself made me realize just how strung out and stressed and self-crtical I had been feeling. Letting go of that made me feel like a 50 lb weight had been lifted from my chest…and I knew that I needed more than a day to enjoy it.
So I let myself rest. I watched movies. I read books (not even useful, informative books! Trashy books! It was AWESOME!). I stretched. I played with Xander (and realized how little I’d been connecting with him in the previous few weeks, even though we’re together 24/7). I didn’t even LOOK at the blog (so please forgive me if your comments went unanswered…I appreciated ALL of them).
And then one day I knew I was ready to dance again. But I wanted to try a video without music…just like my first one. I wanted to let my body dance however it needed to in order to get back into the swing of things. So I set a timer and I danced in silence.
It’s not a perfect video. My inner critic and I duked it out several times. There are moments where you can see my focus slip. My inner dance critic had a field day. But now that I watch it again…I wouldn’t change a thing. This is me at a moment when I decided to keep moving in spite of that inner critic, to share what my body has to express, regardless of how “good” it is (oh, that hateful voice inside). And that makes it perfect and beautiful all on its own.
Are you struggling to push through resistance? Are you being really insanely hard on yourself? How would it feel to let that pressure go, to rest peacefully, and to pick things back up once it feels right? How much of the weight you’re carrying is your own self-criticism?
Right at the beginning, when my teacher would scream at us backstage and force us to be at the theatre at 8am for an 8pm performance, I hated it. I hated the terror of challenging choreography and not feeling ready and worrying about my pointe shoes and forgetting the steps.
And then I changed schools. And I stopped dancing in pointe shoes. And I started doing my own choreography. And everything changed.
My favourite memories of performing are stepping onto the stage to dance my own solo and Knowing that my dance and my story were powerful, that I could fill that entire theatre with my energy, and that my heart and the hearts of my audience were about to have a conversation.
I can’t adequately describe what that feeling is like. At the time I described it like “having the audience in the palm of my hand,” but that sounds like manipulation. It wasn’t. It was secrets whispered from my heart to theirs, opening a window to my soul and knowing that they would peek in and be touched by what they saw.
I mention this because this project, this Delicious Dance-a-thon, has brought me closer to that feeling than anything has in years. It’s different, because my dances are improvised, because I can use editing to put the dance together, and because I don’t have the same space-sharing connection as I did in the theatre, but…I don’t know…it feels the same.
It’s reawakening things in me: knowledge of my body’s power, new appreciation of the way I move, a love of the person on the screen (instead of my traditional horror of seeing myself dance on video). And it’s changing me: inviting me to push a little more, lean into my discomfort, try something new, play.
I didn’t realize until this project just how limited I had made myself: dancing my own little dance, making it beautiful—yes—but creating that beauty within the limits of “well, I can’t move farther than this because I’ll hurt myself and I’ll stop dancing altogether.” Every day getting sorer and tighter and more terrified to move. Every day feeling that powerful, connected dancer slipping farther away.
These videos are helping me to push past those limits, trust myself a little more, step out a little farther. They are helping me to take back that power I thought I’d lost, that connection and blossoming energy that made my heart ache with longing whenever I thought about it.
Today’s music has two layers: the cello and the marimba. I tried dancing to each part separately. I was originally going to edit the “best bits” together into one video…but I found that they wouldn’t fit. They wanted to be shared separately, just as they were created.
And I think this works, because it shows two different ways to step outside of a comfort zone:
The cello, smooth and emotional, feels much more home-y to me. During this dance, I pushed myself to move a little bigger, shift a little more often. I pushed to my edge by more fully inhabiting the dance.
The marimba, on the other hand, frenetic and unceasing, is a foreign land to me. It’s not a dance I typically do. I stepped outside of my comfort zone even attempting to put this on film. And it was exhausting. You can watch me get tired during the course of the video. For a while, I debated whether to share this take at all. But you know what? those first 20-30 seconds? I adore them. They made the entire exercise worth it. They opened up a new layer of self-trust and opportunity for movement. They make me believe in myself just that little bit more.
Thank you for reading this, for watching these videos, for leaving your comments. You are part of this healing, this blossoming. You are part of it, and I am so incredibly grateful to you.
Almost a year ago, I posted my own personal dammit list. It was a revelation for me to seize my Flag of Weirdness and wave it high and proudly. And it led to all kinds of things like rewriting my “about me” page and revamping my business plan.
In my list, I call myself a Dancing Ninja.
A Dancing Ninja dances EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE. Parking lots, malls, parks, street corners…it’s all a potential dance floor if the mood strikes and the music is good.
…but even though I claimed that title as my own and I had dreams of starting a Dancing Ninja Army…I felt like I never really followed through. OK, I did a bit. I bobbed in the grocery store and boogied in the car. But I was afraid to do more than that. And I knew there was more my soul longed to do.
Enter this video. On Sunday, we went on a family outing. I was The Dancing Ninja all over the place. And you know what? IT WAS FABULOUS. When I finally let myself do it, there was nothing to be scared of. It was a beautiful feeling.
I know that I’ve written a lot about moving through fear and pushing into resistance during this Delicious Body Dance-a-thon…but have I mentioned that I AM LOVING IT?! Because I am!
This time, I experimented with editing footage together. This is the first time I’ve ever seriously played with editing, and I’m so happy with the results. I’m also grateful that the unexpected snowstorm yesterday made the outside all white and pretty for me (you say weather, I say personal aesthetic gift from the Universe just for this video).
This is one of my favourite songs by Alex Day. Thank you to Matthew for helping me film the outside part, and thank you to Xander for being easily distracted while I finished it.
Really, I could say “Dancing with Fear part 1 of 12,” but you get my point.
I present…me. Dancing.
This process was difficult. Difficult even apart from the technical difficulties and the massive learning curve of my video camera. As someone who was trained to base a dancer’s (read: my own) worth by their (read: my) body size and ability, to see myself moving on film is hard. Even though I embrace my size. Even though I have made great strides down the road of body-love. Even though I’m working to increase my strength and range of motion. And even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE my dance in this video. It was still hard.
Hard…but ultimately good. The more I watched the video the more I loved it. And the more I saw past my initial reaction. I’m proud of myself for taking the next step out into the world. I’m looking forward to exploring my body’s movement as I keep making videos (because I WILL keep making them…part 2 is already “in the can”). I feel like this dance-a-thon is a rite of passage, a healing journey to the heart of the wounds I still carry when it comes to my body and dance. And I can’t wait to see what comes of it.
Want to join in the Delicious Body Dance-a-thon? Find out what’s going on by heading over to Rachael Maddox’s blog!