I Just Can’t Quit You, Dance

In 2007, I had a difficult decision to make. I had been working at Dance Spirit magazine for four years, slowly clawing my way from intern to front desk to editorial. It felt like a slow climb at the time, but looking back, I realize I had a lot to learn.

dance recital
Why yes, that is some blue eyeshadow and a sequins scrunchie.

I was getting antsy. I had been dancing since I was 7 and writing about dance since 2001. The topics started to loop around every year. Fall was about getting back in studio shape. Winter usually had some kind of ballet focus. Spring was college programs. Summer meant competition season. Around and around we went. In came a new crop of dancer/models. Out went another round of dancewear and costumes.

When I first started, I was so excited to be so immersed in the world of dance. This was everything I had ever dreamed about! Combining my two passions. Rubbing elbows with my dance idols. Sharing whatever knowledge about the dance world I had gleaned from working professionally in New York. It was the dream job…until I injured my back and could no longer dance.

Then it was just painful. There was the physical pain of sitting at my desk all day long, yes. But mostly I was crippled by the emotional pain of being surrounding by an artform that had been my whole world—one that I could no longer participate in in the way that I desired.

So I walked away.

I’ve spent the last seven years completely avoiding dance. I have barely written about it, taken a class, or even watched a dance program on TV. It’s become the pink elephant in my room. But I think it’s time to open my heart to it again. I know this is silly, but something about the atrocity of that Free People ad, and the way that it has (NOT) resonated with dancers on the Internet has jostled something inside of me loose.

I miss it.

I’m not quite sure what this means. Do I take some D-list Zumba class at the local Y? Something tells me that won’t satisfy my thirst. Do I have dance parties in my bedroom with my 3-year-old? (Ahem, I may have already started doing that.) Perhaps this simply means I start writing about it again. Not about trends or dancewear roundups, because let’s be honest, I don’t know anything about that anymore (plus none of you care). But I do know a lot about the dark underbelly of dance. The joy, yes, but also the profound, profound misery. The fleetingness of it. The unfairness of it. The physical toll it takes.

Dance broke my heart. But I still love her. And I’m going to tell you all about it.

green of skin, black of heart

2 thoughts on “I Just Can’t Quit You, Dance

  1. There are few things more fascinating than the insights gleaned from a diminished passion. I loved the pieces about dancing you wrote for XO. Can’t wait to see some here!

    1. Thanks, Allan! I think a lot of creative people can relate to the idea of having “insights gleaned from a diminished passion” even if they are not dancers. Anyone who’s ever studied music, theater, fine art, and yes, writing, and has not been able to find an outlet in their adult life (or finding an outlet but having it taken away from you). Should be interesting to explore this idea further.

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