Do you ever Dance? In clubs, on stage, In your room, do you ever let your body get lost in the music?
A long time ago, in a far away land all I did, all day long, was Dancing. I couldn’t get enough of it, Dance was my oxygen, my Life, my Love.
I miss it so much. I miss being a dancer. I miss walking around the studio barefoot on the cold wooden floor; I miss wearing baggy broken slouchy clothes; I miss the feeling of complete exhaustion I’d feel the minute I touched bed after full days spent in the studio, perfecting my solo, working on that triple turn that never came out the way I wanted it to. I miss telling stories with my body. I will never forget the terror I felt the first time I had to improv on stage. Ahh the stage! I really miss it! Standing there looking at the audience completely out of breath, blinded by the lights, hearing people clapping and cheering. I can still hear that sound in my head sometimes!
I don’t really dance anymore. A few years back I did something I promise myself I will never do again: I gave up!
Let me tell you a story about a little girl and her first love…
A LIFELONG AFFAIR
I met Dance for the first time when I was 3 years old. I was sitting on the floor in the living room of my childhood home in Italy, playing with a giant stuffed animal I was currently obsessed with. My mom—who was watching a tape of the ballet “Romeo & Juliet” featuring Carla Fracci and Rudolf Nureyev—told me “look!isn’t that beautiful?!”, i turned around and everything changed forever! I stared in awe at those two bodies moving across space like they were gods, I was so dazed it almost hurt.
I forced my mom to buy more and more tapes, I watched “The nut Cracker” and “Swan Lake” every day, compulsively, for months. On my 4th birthday my parents bought me a tutu and a pair of dance shoes and they signed me up for ballet classes. From the moment I set foot in the studio I felt right in my element, I loved it… i had found my purpose!
In my early teen I spent every single spare minute I had in the dance studio, I was taking all the classes I could, Ballet, jazz, hip hop, you name it! By the time I was 17 I was teaching a few courses. The last year of high school I barely showed up at school as training for competitions, teaching and choreographing was taking all of my time and energy, I almost didn’t gradute because of that. I basically lived inside my dance studio. I was the first one there when it opened and i was the last one to go home. To make some extra cash I would sit at the reception in between classes and sweep the floors and clean the changing rooms before the first class started.
Being a dancer wasn’t just my dream it was my identity [DISCLAIMER: I later on found out this was a very dangerous thing to think!]
The summer after I turned 18 I grabbed all the money I had saved during the school year and I bought a plane ticket to LA—I went completely alone, without knowing the city nor a single soul there—with the sole purpose of taking dance classes at one of the best studios in the country. The trip itself—and traveling alone to a new continent for the first time—didn’t scare me at all, but waking into that dance studio was the scariest thing I had ever done my whole li. Everybody was amazingly talented in there. I felt smaller than ever! It took every bit of balls I had [well not to walk through the door and take that first class, but I did it! It was amazing and terrifying!
Two things happened that summer: I fell in love with LA (literally) and I discovered a new style I had never danced before: Contemporary. That opened a new world to me, it was such an introspective kind of dance, it wasn’t just about technique, it was about emotions, letting go of everything and connect to your most primordial self. It was Beautiful. For the first time I wasn’t just executing a dance routine, I was DANCING, feeling and expressing everything I couldn’t communicate with words, all that I had inside me through movement. I was free. That day, during one of the most uncomfortable and emotionally & physically draining classes I’d ever taken, for the first time in my life I understood that there was an artist in me…I was fucked! From that very moment my life would have never been the same.
DOWN A VERY DEEP HOLE
I moved to LA two years later, i was determined to become a great dancer and be in music videos and dancing on important stages around the country…but that never happened!
Shortly after moving I started having back problems, the pain was bothering me often, making it difficult to enjoy what I was doing and, in simple terms, that was the end of my dancing career!
Looking back in retrospect though, I can now see that something else was bothering me much more than the pain: my ego! That motherfucker!
I was a big fish in a small pond in my hometown but in LA i was the tiniest fish surrounded by huge incredibly talented and technically perfect other fish.I was never technically perfect and not being able to reach perfection scared the shit out of me. I was so afraid of failing because of my imperfections that I let that stop me from really trying. I told myself my back hurt too much and I let fear win. I made excuses. I gave up my dream. I quit! I failed!
Have you ever heard the saying “Before Alice got to Wonderland, she had to fall pretty hard down a very deep hole”? Well guys, I fell very fucking hard! I lost myself.
I had been a Dancer my whole life and now that I wasn’t dancing I didn’t know who I was anymore. I went down a dark scary path for about a year, trapping myself in an unloving relationship making it the center of my universe and flirting dangerously with Xanax on and off to numb the pain caused by the missing piece of my heart [Dance]. I had no idea what I wanted nor who I wanted to be, I couldn’t find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. [Oh, and I was living in Las Vegas at the time, which is not exactly the ideal city to be in for people that are looking to find themselves back!]
It took a lot of work but i eventually snapped out of it! How? I learnt to listen to my heart, my instinct and my curiosity. I stood up, wiped the tears away and picked up a camera. I started telling stories with images instead than with my body and later on with words. And everything slowly went back to normal.
4 Years have gone by now, and I finally forgave myself for the huge mistake I made, in the end it led me to the path I’m walking now, and I honestly couldn’t be happier to be standing anywhere else than exactly where I am right here, right now!
I’m not a Dancer anymore but my Dancer’s Soul will always live within me.
My failed relationship with Dance taught me many lessons,:
1-DON’T EVER EVER EVER AGAIN LET FEAR SCARE YOU AWAY FROM YOUR DREAMS, DON’T GIVE UP UNTIL YOU KNOW YOU DID EVERYTHING YOU COULD AND GAVE IT ALL YOU HAD OR YOU WILL REGRET IT TILL THE DAY YOU DIE!
2-PERFECTION IS BORING
3-WHAT YOU DO IS NOT WHO YOU ARE
4-BEING THE TINY FISH IN THE HUGE POND IS BETTER THAN QUITTING
5-ALICE FELL DOWN A VERY DEEP HOLE BUT SHE DID FIND WONDERLAND AT THE END OF IT
Once in a blue moon I sneak into a contemporary class, my back might hurt a bit but i don’t let that stop me from getting lost in the music!
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