I initially felt a lot of resistance against writing this. I guess I didn't wanna come off like a salty OG talkin' bout the "good ol' days" of the dance community – BUT FRET NOT OK DON'T U DARE HIT THAT X!!!
This isn't about how things have changed in dance.
It's about how I've changed as a dancer.
Watching huge competitions like VIBE and Body Rock always made me feel anxious.
IS THAT CRAZY? Maybe it is.
I definitely felt crazy because everyone else seemed so eager to "be inspired" by the best of the best. Everyone else "couldn't wait" to see how each team upped their game. Everyone else wanted to meet and mingle with as many new dance friends as they could.
Everyone else but me, the insecure and introverted.
I remember feeling so defeated. So small and insignificant.
Now that I'm not competing or even performing at these shows anymore?
The script shoulda flipped to say somethin' like
"Now I can sit back, get drunk, and appreciate these things without getting caught up in those SILLY FEELINGS HA HA HA."
Watching VIBE this weekend...
WAS FUCKING OVERWHELMING
even worse than before.
For arounnndddd the past 2 years or so, I've struggled with adjusting to a more adult life.
Searching for a full-time job, starting to work a full-time job, maintaining my health, family, relationships, yadayadaa;sldjfsquanana.
Consequently, the time I have to indulge in dance has dwindled down significantly.
I used to take class (this is extreme; I was an AVID class taker) – around 5 times a week.
And now it's like. Twice a month. If I'm lucky.
I enjoy the class environment so much. You have no idea. More than rehearsals, more than competitions, more than any other dance setting, I LOVE taking classes. My short ass attention span + affinity for quick challenges + hunger to perform = makes learning a piece in 1.5 hours and doing "groups" the perfect dance experience for me.
It was a gradual shift,
but classes of 10-20 grew into giant workshop / convention / coachella – esque events.
A group of friends I could vibe with became a sea of strangers that look half my age.
And choreo got fucking crazy. And continues to get crazier. Shit's so fast and hard and my confidence plummets when I struggle or mess up.
Class was my therapy and escape.
Now the thought of it just kinda
stresses me out /:
Look, I know it may sound DRAMAAAA
But the more I talk to others, the more they affirm that I'M NOT CRAZY for feeling this type of pressure.
The demographic that understands and empathizes with me best are my peers –
Dancers who have been in the community for a while, paid their dues, performed their share, taught, learnt, etc. etc., and are now... growing up. Y'all feel me.
Becoming financially stable/independent, living on your own, exploring other hobbies outside of dance – these are all natural and necessary changes in our lives.
But they, de facto, require us to let go of the dancers we used to be.
So we clap for the 18 year olds killin' it in class and go to sleep to wake up for our 9-5s.
The reality of it is that no one cares whether I take class or not. No one cares whether I fall behind and suck. No one cares if I train and get d0pe af.
My identity as a dancer is on me, and "me" is telling me that I need make room for other things.
But "me" is also like
I guess having already felt this way for so long, and then being in the dense dance (oooh.. pun possibilities galore here) DE-ANCE environment of VIBE just made me feel more removed from the scene than ever.
Which feels ridiculous to dwell on... I mean,
I'm not pursuing dance as a career. I never even considered it. So I knew I wasn't going to be able to upkeep the amount of time, energy, (and honestly) money that I directed toward it.
I'm a writer.
I'm a lucky writer that gets to write about dance.
I'm a lucky dancer that lives in Los Angeles, surrounded by studios, instructors, opportunities, and resources other dancers would kill for.
I'm well aware that I should have little to complain about.
I guess I just need to find a balance that works for me.
I'm not ready to STOP dancing entirely and just write 24/7.
But I do need to stop stressing out over how much I'm sucking or growing and just do it for the fun of it.
I need to accept that life is in flux and I am in flux.
I guess I first have to get over the "I'm not good enough" narrative and focus on the "do what makes you happy" one instead.
Then I can step into a class without having all this anxiety 🙃🙃🙃