My childhood neighbor was born with deformities in her feet. Her doctor recommended that she take ballet lessons to strengthen her limbs. Our parents registered us both for classes since they were friends and I had buckets of extra energy to exert. I remember being drawn to my dance teacher because she made me feel like a true unique and special individual. I danced until seventh grade with that studio before feeling like I had outgrown their loving warmth. I wanted something more.
I knew that I had a some sort of gift in my dance talents. I was good enough to be picked for special small-group choreography, but not good enough to really feel like I was ever the prima ballerina of my studio. Dance classes have a strange sort of internal hierarchy. The premiere dancer of a class always makes herself known much like a strutting peacock might. I dreamed of moving to New York or L.A. and working under my favorite choreographer, Alvin Ailey. By my junior year of high school I started to realize that I would never be skinny enough, or good enough to become a professional dancer. I let my fears get the best of me and thought about registering for college as a visual arts major instead of dance. I buckled down and started thinking about "real" career paths.
Around this same time I auditioned for a national touring performing arts group. In the middle of my senior year I received my acceptance letter and was invited to move to California. I couldn't believe that my dreams of becoming a dancer were starting to materialize right before my eyes. It wasn't the Russian Ballet, but it was the semi-pros and that was good enough for me. I spent three years with the group before I worked the dancing bug out of my pants. I slowly transitioned into a dance-less life. I gradually stopped attending classes and let my collection of dance shoes sit in a bag in the top of my closet. My work day became focused on autism and behavior therapy instead of port de bras and pliés.
... until, a few weeks ago when my childhood dance teacher called me on a random Monday night, and offered me a job. So tonight I reached into the heights of my closet and pulled down my dusty dance bag with the puffy-paint writing on it. I strapped on my pointe shoes for the first time in six long years and gained the satisfaction of knowing that my dance days are not over, they are just different. Instead of the bright lights of the stage I will now practice in my kitchen using the fridge door as my barre. As imperfect as my eighteen year-old body seemed at the time, I now slip into my pj's and bare my soft post-baby mamabelly to my reflection in the stove. And it feels incredible.
People keep telling me that God will never give me more then I can handle. Yesterday he gave me too much pain in one area of my life, and then blessed me with an amazing creative outlet just a few hours later. The perfect balance.