I’ve learnt some of my most potent life lessons through dance. Most likely more than some. Through certain roles or just being a dancer itself. I have learned more about myself in my 10 career than I would ever have thought possible. Spending so much time with yourself and focusing inward, this is probably only natural.
It only clicked with me fairly recently, that being in this career gives me the blessing of self-discovery and seemingly endless opportunity to be the very best person I can be, when I’m working alone but especially when I’m performing or working with others. When I was younger, it made me feel selfish to be so self-absorbed, I wanted to be one of those dancer’s who wasn’t so obsessed with themselves. It seemed far more noble and I thought it ‘looked’ better if people didn’t know how much dancing mean to me. Little did I know that turning inward does make you a selfish person and learning more about ourselves, what makes us tick and how we behave, is really a gift we share with others.
Dancing has been my experience to grow into the person I am, a journey back to myself essentially albeit often in the glaring view of other people. We are all called to what makes sense to us, and as we all do, I see the world through the prism of my experience in dance and how it has affected my life. We all see the world through the experiences we have had, and while mine are through dance, I think they are also universal life lessons.
There have been many challenges and even more setbacks but also some Dana-breaking breakthroughs and inner triumphs. It has taught me so much of what I know about myself but also what I know of other people, communication, how we relate to each other, the human condition to worry and dissect problems, a whole range of emotions and what is useful and what is actually just criminal to the self. I have learned that no one day is the same as the next and while others say you are only as good as your last performance, I now know that not to be true.
You are only as good as you know and feel. And that even on the bad performance days, that is a constant. If you honour who you are and the fact that you belong already, that you have worth and just as much as that principal dancer deserves to be there, you do too. We all play our role and we are all the lead in our lives and the supporting stars in each other’s lives. We are full of so much potential and possibility and that may be a daunting opportunity but equally exciting.
Through dance, I have navigated through the daily body image slashing we all put ourselves through, especially young women. It is a dirty battle, it’s rough and ruthless. It’s exhausting and unrelenting. It’s a terrible disguise for wanting to be better and improving yourself. It’s sadly addictive and has destroyed the self-esteem and self-confidence of too many dancers and young people in general.
I have battled the ability to be proud of my physical self, what it enables me to do when dancing is incredible. But the very notion that my heart still beats every day and my lungs still breathe every day is something that I hold of greater significance. We are more than our physicality, we are more than straight legs and high jumps or the roles someone else casts us to perform and what we bring as individuals only strengthens the team. We are all in this together and that’s what makes it dynamic, challenging, full and beautiful.
I have huge appreciation that nurturing or pushing the physical body will only take you so far. One most nourish the mind and the soul for the physical body to come into full exposure. Together, they are the formidable trio of empowerment, of self-worth, self-belief and of balance. They are what I strive for in my life as a dancer and away from dance. They are universal gifts that we were all given as our birthright.
Be brave enough to take the journey to self-discovery and self-worth. It isn’t selfish but selfless, you inspire others on their journey too. We are all in this together.