The Tiny Dancer Comes Full Circle

Slipper Time
Recently my toddler started taking ballet classes. (Well, really they consist of thirty minutes of running around, but it’s super adorable.)
Her entering the World of Ballet was a big deal to me and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I don’t have a desire to be a crazy Dance Mom and ballet/dance involves a lot of time, expense and volunteering – even at her young age. And if I’m starting her down a road of serious dance training, it can also involve physical demands and injury. But since she’s only two, I’m not going to get too serious. Yet.
I took ballet as a child, just like her. I have brief, flickering memories of blinding recital lights, really tight hair buns, the stinging burn of hairspray, itchy costumes and getting to wear heavy makeup. But also fun and the sound of music from the stage and flowers at the end of the performance. Then we moved and I stopped dance, but started it up again as a late teen. I loved it. I loved the physicality, the music, and the intense structure. And nothing beats the *crack* of your toes as you’re warming up…
When I graduated high school, I was still dancing. I went to college part time so I could accommodate afternoon class and leave time for rehearsals on Saturday. I did this for an entire year, it made total sense to me. I was also writing and my major at the time was English Literature. It all made sense, I didn’t even question it.
Then the next Fall session was upon me and my teacher gave me a straight up shot of reality. And that “reality” was that I was:
– Too old
– Too heavy (can I interject here that I was RIPPED, I wish I had that body now!)
– Did I mention too old? Because at my age at that time, most dancers are at their peak. I was maybe halfway to my “peak.”
– I had no chance of a dance career to support myself (see reasons above)
Maybe this sounds harsh but she was right. She was totally right – in a worldly and practical sense. If I was going to progress more, I was going to need to sacrifice more time… which meant less school….and for what?
Ugh, dire huh?
As is my temperament, I quit cold turkey. And this, my friends, I am realizing was a big turning point. I quickly scrambled to figure out how to fill up this new found time, so I signed up for a full time Broadcasting program. I remember my intention being that I could “take my stories to another level.” But what happened instead was:
– College life
– College friends
– Late night movies
– Moving away
– Moving away again
– Working part time
– Working full time
– Dating/Marrying/Babying/Not sleeping
Now all this is fine and wonderful and all part of what has made me into me. But notice that dance or writing has no mention in there – and that’s because it had no part of those years. And that meant something was always missing, because those were also things that made me me. For a very brief few months I took an Adult drop-in ballet class. I even dove back into my book. But then life took over again and I never went back. When I pulled out my old ballet slippers to take this picture with my daughter, I found my punch card for that class, neatly tucked inside.
I had two punches left.
I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here. By no means does dance mean more to me than writing, but I can’t help but see some sort of correlation. Maybe it was that commitment nineteen-year-old-Erin took to carve time out for art. For not giving a damn and doing life part time but love and art full time. And now, here I am fifteen years later, finishing up the tasks that nineteen-year-old-Erin started. I went back and completed that English Literature degree and I finished my book. And “little Erin” has started taking ballet classes.
And me? I’ll be there to tell her not to quit unless she wants to. It only took me until now to figure it out.
Everything always comes full circle.


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