Biting Your Own Teeth

According to Pinterest (I know, I know) Alan Watts said, “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”

I have written about defining and labeling at several points over the years on this blog as well as for Dance Advantage.

I am in the midst of change with my relationship to dance and the proportions of focus through which I see and do. I think I write that every summer.

In my graduate study, I explored a movement curriculum as a method to alleviate symptoms of PTSD. Over the years, my teaching has taken principles of that work and implemented it into the structure of my classes as I worked with at-risk youth and others. I am finding myself currently drawn back into that world as I embark on some projects this summer. More on that to come.

This year, Daria Halprin’s book The Expressive Body in Life, Art, and Therapy: Working with Movement, Metaphor, and Meaning has never been far out of reach.  It has been influential and it brought me to this (page 64) about dance therapy pioneer Mary Starks Whitehouse, “She first called her approach movement in-depth and later authentic movement. She remarked that a significant turning point was the day when she realized that rather than teaching dance, she was teaching people. More than theory or philosophy, the inner life of the mover was of primary interest to Whitehouse. For her, movement was a way of becoming conscious more than a way to “act out”.” And here I am.

I have many friends navigating the waters of change right now: people leaving classrooms, leaving traditions, leaving fields, leaving relationships, leaving countries.

Change equals movement.

Once upon a time, I wanted to use my teaching to produce dancers. Then it was to also produce thinkers. Now it is also to help guide people to the knowledge they already hold. Do you see it? It is and, and. Not either/or.

Movement changes what we think and how we think it. What we think changes how we move.

I am observing the consciousness surfacing through my own movements. I am curious about the consciousness of inner life for these friends of mine as they move. I am finding the more I drop the labels and definitions, defense and offense, I am able to honor more of who I am rather and what I offer. My inner life is more thoroughly realized. I wonder if they are feeling the same.

I have spent years, decades actually, defining.            I want to stop.

I think the challenge of change hasn’t been about the change itself- the tasks, the environment, the affiliations. It has been about the shift in definition. If I am this now, does it mean that I am no longer that? No. At least not in my situations. It is altering the proportions, gaining more dimension by accumulating “ands”.

How are you moving these days? What is surfacing? What are you accumulating?

Living Life as an Experiment

Have you ever had that experience in which what you have been wishing for materializes and you can hardly catch your breath? You can hardly believe it is real. It is as if your mind has been read and you find yourself in a place where all the right things align? A place that you thought may only exist in your imagination but in fact is real and only an hour away. One that doesn’t hold perfection but does hold immense promise? And your eyes may or may not occasionally leak as a result.

You feel a little like Alice in your own version of a Wonderland- a place full of curiosity, provoking thought, happy people, and things to learn and see and do?

Yeah. That is me right now. See….

I love teaching dance in the public school system. I love it for its potential for students, its representation of the breadth of the field, its opportunity to develop dance advocates.

Dance in the K-12 setting allows me to teach everything I love about dance: technical theory, history, performance theory, and the creative process. Every lesson is experiential, whether it is challenging our definitions and applications of technique, understanding the legacy of dance in concert and social forms, or relating dance to other subject areas to simply make sense of life. (Okay, maybe not so simply but certainly profoundly.)

Teaching in the public schools has introduced me to a passion for teaching and understanding many layers of development (social, emotional, cognitive) that I didn’t realize I had when I was working exclusively in the world of dance.

Teaching in the public schools has introduced me to a desire to really connect with people and not merely communicate with them on a variety of levels. Teaching here has allowed me to put down my biases (artistic, social,….), be willing to truly be seen by the students among me. I have learned to truly see them. Students have taught me about what is most important in life. It may include battements and flatbacks, but it isn’t about them specifically.

Teaching in the public schools has introduced me to people that have made deep impressions on my life- in how I think, plan, structure, communicate, create,….. Some of these introductions have been in the classroom, or in the school itself. Others have been due to related work, such as assessment development at the state level. All have been professional and became personal.

Finally, I have met a community that shares my values and has put these values into practice. Our values are visible, tangible, sustainable.

  “Live life as an experiment”.

I have been doing this in the studio my whole life.
     
I have done that with my dance career.
  
I am doing that now with my career in education.
         

I have gained so much in teaching dance in a K-8 program for the last few years. But I have come to decide that I do my best work with secondary students- middle school, high school, and college. I like the K-12 setting for the inclusion of all aspects of dance rather than segregating concepts into classes and styles (modern, jazz, history, composition,….).

Now, I return to the high school level but this time in a district very different from the one I have known. I am directing a serious program of serious dancers with beautiful training. I lead a community of people committed to making dance and arts education a priority. I am already professionally challenged and supported.

I am grateful for all the lessons and the people that have led me here. And now, I am grateful for the opportunity for change and for growth. I know it won’t all be easy but it will be positive and it will be valuable. It will be professional and become personal.

Just as “a world-class education”- a Wonderland- should be.

present and connected

This weekend I had the distinct honor of presenting at the McEntire Education Summit, hosted by Trent McEntire. Trent and I are old friends- the best kind, where you don’t speak nearly often enough but when you do, it is as if not a day has gone by. Trent is a force in the pilates world, a real icon and one that takes people and their potential seriously.

A couple months ago, Trent and I had a conversation about helping educators enhance their relationships, their connections, with their clients.

This, in tandem with research I have been conducting with a dear colleague and special education expert, Karen Hicks, has launched a new line of professional development presentations for me.

We address the presence and application of movement in academic classrooms, how to conceive and implement authentic arts integration. As a dance educator in a dance-specific setting, I present alternatives to the traditional and often shaming methods of teaching dance. Here is another way to describe it:

What is it?

Empathy-based pedagogy, emotionally-intelligent teaching

What is the application?

Acknowledgement of people first, then organizing movement systems to help them reach toward and beyond their potential. Get the most out of your time, get the most out of your experiences.

What is the result?

Happiness by way of growth, service, and satisfaction. By way of relationships, communication, and support.

Why? (Although I have always known the why, Trent has continually pushed me to find the words).

I believe movement connects. (Bodies to ourselves, our minds, our ideas, our potential)

I believe connections save lives. (Connections of people, ideas, dots, movements, mantras, communities, you name it…….)

But the longer why is that it has taken me years to put down my “dance-traumas” as a friend has described them. The wounds and complications experienced in training my body and mind to master and compete. For what?

In working with the students I see on a regular basis, life is already full of challenge, condescension, and competition. Pitting students against each other, yelling corrections, and delivering nasty looks doesn’t produce anything productive. Even subtle “judgements” set up obstacles over solutions. I am not against competition altogether, but there is healthy competition and unhealthy. I realized that many of the negative messages I received from teachers (of all subjects- NOT just dance!!!) were probably not even intended, they may simply have been received. So my goal is to help people understand those messages and build intention in what they are sending and what they are choosing to receive.

Want to know more?

  • I will be teaching a pedagogy-based movement experience for Dance in the Annex this August (dates to come) in Grand Rapids, MI.
  • Karen Hicks and I will be presenting a professional development session for STEAM teachers at the Mt. Hope STEAM school in Lansing in August.
  • AND we will be presenting at the National Dance Education Organization Conference in Chicago this November (Saturday 11:30).
  • Or I/we can come to you…..

This is the work that has nurtured some of the best relationships of my life. You deserve the same.

 

Bend It Like Bikram

Gloriously, I am back into my Bikram practice. So far, it hasn’t been as frequent as I’d like but I gradually feel myself coming back. In the months away, I continued to teach and dance yet I lost a lot of strength. It has been a strenuous year in terms of body and spirit and thus, the return to a class that makes me feel safe and able to care for myself is most welcomed. It also inspires me to provide that same sense of safety and self-nurturing for my students. More on that to follow…..

One night, post Bikram, I woke to check on one of my kids I heard talking in their sleep. Once awake, true to form, my mind wandered and wondered. There have been several situations  pulling at me to reflect on what I do and how I do it. Within this process, I am pushed to define the differences of those that practice the arts and those that claim it as an identity. I work with both. I am both.

Here is what I decided that night:

I believe anything done with intention becomes an art. Expression is not about the audience but the projection of self. Therefore, the performance never ends, the processing is the constant rehearsal. The refinement results in enlightenment and a lift of the soul created through an authentic act of learning.

 

I view the arts as a humanity- an innate part of the soul through which one creatively problem-solves and articulates deeply-held theories and ideas– so deep they shall be expressed only in artistic form.

 

Artists are those who nurture the talent and commitment to perform at intense levels and who might also feel they know no other way. For them, practicing the arts is beyond a lifestyle; it is a way of life, a way of knowing, a way of being.

This summer I have been more attentive to my dabbling in the arts. I have returned to sketching, painting, crafting, creating, cooking, writing, knitting, even cross-stitching (working on patches for my son’s backpack since patches are really, really hard to find these days!).

I have realized that for a long time I have not claimed some of these interests and meager talents because I don’t have professional level skills nor am I pursuing them as a profession. I say “claim” in the meaning that they are a part of my identity (except knitting, I have called myself a knitter for a few years now). I have also tended to see writing as an extension of my work as a dance educator simply because of the subject matter. I haven’t allowed that identity to stand alone.

I have also noticed that I feel the need to find an excuse to engage in these enjoyments- a recipient for the item I am knitting, etc. I have a hard time allowing myself to do these things because I enjoy them. I feel pressured to be busy and have a product that proves it wasn’t time spent selfishly.

So, I pledge to work on that. I am striving to see “play” as the invaluable tool it is- the time to connect with others, let some things go, and open doors for new ideas and inspiration.

Bending my thoughts to be just as intentional about play and rest and creative expressions, just as I bend my body for nourishment and nurturing in Bikram.

When the Body Answers Back

We know our stories are trapped in our bodies. We know we use our bodies to express personal perspectives within our stories. But what about when the body needs to do the speaking?

When I was living in NYC, one of my favorite classes was that of Alexandra Beller. She started each class with us laying on our backs, talking us through our bodies, giving us permission to let go of whatever we had been trudging through prior to class and to simply be before she invited us to move.

It never failed, each and every time I would get a lump in my throat, tears would stream from my eyes, and it seemed to come from nowhere. As I described in my post about David Howard’s class, here I was accepted as a person and then supported as a dancer. It was empowering, complex, surprising, and thought-provoking. Over ten years later, I am still thinking about it.

Over the years, I have had students go through similar experiences in my own class. This summer, I have finally had that feeling again in my practice of Bikram yoga.

Interestingly, this topic keeps coming up as I communicate with people from all over the dance map.

It makes me think the conversation needs to be opened.

In grad school, one area of my research was how organized movement curricula can help alleviate symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This, for me, was a brief and shallow advance into the world of research but the topic keeps cropping up in everything else I research and in all facets of my teaching- embodied learning for at-risk students, learning styles and methods for delivering information in a dance classroom, and more.

Without going into too much personal detail, I have experienced many traumas (death of a parent, being in NYC on 9/11, several robberies,….) and I have been conscious of how my body has felt and how my dancing has been impacted as a result of events. Things have helped and hindered along the way but nothing has had the profound effect for me as I have encountered this summer.

Through movement and possibly related to certain environmental conditions, I have felt the ‘baggage’ I have been carrying for years shift and eventually be left behind. Not all of it, but a substantial amount.

I have acknowledged the unevenness of sides of my body- in feeling like I am laying on an incline while in reality laying on flat ground, in sensing complete relaxation on the left side of my body while the right side is tense literally from the top of my head to the toes, even in wanting to cry but only on the right side of my face.

My head has flooded with thoughts that I have not allowed myself to entertain and in the next posture those thoughts flooded out.

I have felt the front of my body roar like a lion and I have cried, and cried, and cried- not in sadness but in release.

My body, mind, and spirit feel stronger than…..well, maybe ever.

In the reading I have done in recent weeks, I am suspecting that this breakthrough is, naturally, because I am ready. However, the environmental conditions of the yoga experience might also be important in my case. Namely, the heat.

Bikram as I understand, is the original hot yoga and all of this- the heat, the focus on my own practice and not that of my students, and the dedicated time to myself-  has returned me to when I was dancing intensely, in hot studios, sweating immensely, and so on. For me, living in NYC and dancing my way through the summer, all of this is relevant to conditions not directly relating to trauma but surrounding the trauma. It has taken me back to the time and not the event. And dance, the technical practice and focus on my progress and process, has been consistent in the time of all other traumas.

None of this has been easy, but it has been necessary. Due to the conversations I have had with others over the last few weeks, I feel prompted to share this in the spirit of “you are not alone”.

My experiences have been dependent upon my interactions with Alexandra Beller, Trent McEntire, and the instructors of Bikram Yoga Capital Area, as well as everyone else that has shaped my life’s path in movement and stillness.

For all those that have had similar experiences or may in the future- keep moving. May you find your own guides, maybe even in the most unexpected of people or situations. At any rate, I hope you find your release.

David Howard

When I was living in NYC, David Howard’s ballet class saved my soul. In a city where most dance classes felt like an audition, taught by people who didn’t really understand how to warm up a body or just really loved deep plié in second position, with the body folded over- David Howard’s ballet class kept me grounded.  Well, David Howard’s, Alexandra Beller’s, and a few others.

These were the classes that reminded me of who I was, why I love dance, and that I didn’t have to buy into the hype that can come with trying to “make it” as a dancer.

I was not a rich dancer (oxymoron, I know) and had to be decisive with my time and my money- whose class I could take, why, and how it fit into my life. It was challenging. I was often torn between those with working choreographers who often cast their next show from their classes and so the mentality was that you had to be a regular, and those that fed me in movement and artistry where I wanted to be a regular.

Most of the time, I didn’t have enough money to be a regular but I had even less interest in the former. Yet, I felt pressured. I wanted a job but I hated thinking that I could out teach them, hated watching the dancers in class with a myriad of technical issues not even being acknowledged but being led on, and hated deep plié in second position with the body folded over.

I discovered, however, that David Howard was teaching a mid-day class at Broadway Dance Center. I had been introduced to him as an undergrad and knew this would be well worth my money and my time. It was a basic level class, maybe intermediate or something, that I at first felt ashamed to take given that I had come to believe I was an advanced dancer, needing an advanced class and needing to compete with other advanced dancers (not so much in ballet, for my modern/jazz body and movement ethic, but still the mentality persisted). Then I took the class.

It was filled with “advanced” dancers not necessarily in terms of their technical ability but their commitment, their age (in dance years), and the eloquence in their bodies. Many, I think, had been amateurs that had been dancing for years and acquired beauty in the process. Others were former professional dancers, looking for a place to maintain their craft for themselves. I was the youngest, at 23 or 24. I loved it.

I ended up rearranging my work schedule, splitting my shift in retail merchandising, so that I could take this class. It couldn’t happen all the time, but I kept up with his guest teaching schedule as best I could and would make the arrangements when he was in town. It complicated my life but it was worth it. Necessary, even.

I observed how David Howard spoke to these dancers. How he challenged their bodies but nurtured them, too. How spirits lifted, legs lifted, and it was all done safely in spirit as well as physicality. Soon, I didn’t feel like an outsider observing through motion but an insider, accepted by the group. I felt them take care of me. It was a community and it was powerful.

As a dance educator, I have been reflecting on how this experience has shaped much of my current philosophy and practice. I learned a lot in NYC, often by watching hours and hours of classes at BDC, Steps, and DanceSpace (now DNA) from doorways and through windows, when I couldn’t afford to take class. It was a profound education.

I may not be a ballerina but I am so proud of how David Howard has inspired and informed my work- building a community, taking care of people, and finding joy in movement.  I will always be thankful.

 

Mind the Gap(s)

Over the last few years I have realized that my role in dance is that of a mediator. This summer, however, I am realizing just how many realms in which this is true. In this, though, I am also more aware of my own biases and working on letting some of those go.

Here is a sample:

Academic – Studio Dance There seems to be a natural rift between those that have trained within the concert dance philosophy and those those training in the studio dance philosophy. Even as I type that I realize another- those that have trained and those currently training and perhaps that is part of the friction in academic and studio dance relationships. The process of evolution is different within those two worlds.

As I see it right now, dance academics have evolved away from their commercial or recreational dance roots and have forgotten how -or forgotten their interest- in connecting with the tan-tight, sequined, or booty shorted youth newly entering their space. Likewise, the evolution of the studio dancer seems to depend on the athleticism and current movement trends. It is an evolution of the body that sometimes excludes the mind and spirit other than adrenaline and satisfaction that comes with performance and all that comes with that- positive and negative.

I think some of the hesitation of getting theoretical with teen dancers has been an issue of wanting to engage through entertainment (keeping up with the Joneses) and not expecting them to be capable of thinking through big ideas.

It isn’t true.Even early elementary kids are capable if their educational guide is patient and most importantly, willing.

I think our best strategy would be to stop setting expectations and simply start from wherever we are- as people, dancers, citizens, thinkers, doers, beings.

Recently, I had the realization that most of what we view as being in poor taste is really just an inheritance of limited information. Take studio dance fashion, for instance, and the comparison to what is worn in an academic dance setting. Both are wearing “booty” shorts these days but because one might have some sequined detailing or tan tights underneath, the “evolved” feel the discomfort of the depth of conversations that have NOT been had with that student and the tendency is to joke. I am so guilty.

In reality, though, the wardrobe is just an extension of the intention of training and a reflection of the evolution to be expected. In my day, it was French-cut leotards. With a belt run under the leg holes in back and on the outside in front. Classy. But I was serious. I was committed. I evolved into a deep thinking dancer concerned about Dance as an art form, a way of being and knowing, a method to finding embodied learning and able to talk shop with the best of them.

Some of the other gaps:

Dance as Entertainment – Dance as an Intellectual Pursuit This one is particularly painful for me, I admit. I have been surprised at how often in recent years, I have had to defend why I teach dance the way I do. I have been met with great supporters but also a segment of families/students that don’t know why I “refuse” to use pop music, moves found in music videos, and so on.

Artists – Educators In some ways, this is the inspiration for my blog. This site started as a means to communicate with fellow “underdogs” and share my real world experiences as new graduates (or old) entered their own journeys. I was continually frustrated with artists not explaining their struggles experienced when they first started their professional paths.

Think about it- most biographies go from the family, upbringing, and early training of an artist- touch on their artistically formative years (beyond training)- and suddenly jump in to the history of their tours or projects. Little discussion is offered about the obstacles of becoming dance-makers and thinkers. We jump to when they were recognized as brilliant. Or so it seems to me. And the same seemed to happen when I was able to ask artists about this.

So, my mission became to chronicle one dancer’s journey- tangential and all- within and around the field of dance. Along the way, this has turned into a site that explores teaching experiences more than life experiences. Though, like everything else, those two things can’t be separated. I just choose to talk less about my children than my classroom- maintaining somewhat of a gap based on comfort level and respect for my home. 😉

There are more gaps than this but I will stop here for today.

Moral of the story: We are all just doing the best we can with what we have. My job is to meet people where they are and hope they have an interest in moving further along their path. If not, maybe we can have a good time moving.

Which gaps are you mindful of these days?

For the Love of The TARDIS

Last night the Hub and I were discussing why I would make a good traveling companion for The Doctor.

(Each summer we “theme” our television/film viewings. So fun!! This summer is Dr. Who, about which we are both now obsessed. Previous summers include Charles Dickens, “W.A”- Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple, I think there were others…..)

And I have decided that most of the reasons we came up with and the others that I have arrived at as I continue the conversation in my head, relate to my life in dance.

Here’s why:

1. Need to be able to adapt to any new environment.
Dance culture depends on observational learning. It is true socially and artistically. When entering a new class, studio space, dance environment- we know to watch and do. There are certain things that are always true regardless of space and environment. Having that center of understanding, we are able to roll with the punches in terms of the finer details. We observe others to prep for class or rehearsal in anticipation of the instructor or choreographer’s preferences (where to put our stuff, whether to be standing when they enter or not, are warmers permitted, which wall is front,…).

It is true in movement as well. We are a kinesthetic art form depending on visual learning to provide the majority of the information. Questions are tolerated but only after sound observations are made. Question before that time and you are “outed” as a newbie, judgements are made, and your fate written. You are not to be trusted.

2. Know when to follow and when to lead.
When there is a clear leader, I am happy to let them lead. But if they are asking for contributions to the creative process, I am ready to help problem-solve, try anything they ask (within reason), generate new material. If they aren’t around, I will readily step in. I understand my skills, my strengths, and limitations, and my place.

It is one of the intrinsic values that studying the arts, seriously and over time, can provide.

3. Laughing at my myself.
Mistakes happen. We may as well embrace them. Mistakes in dance look funny, feel funny, even sometimes sound funny. Oh well. The entire process of creating can stop if we can’t laugh and keep moving.

4. Taking risks.
Choreographers have challenged my body and my mind. Invaluable teachers have pushed my thinking, my writing, my dance-making, my teaching, my ways of being. My career has demanded I take risks.

After college, I moved to Chicago with $100 and a credit card (don’t tell my Dad). After Chicago came New York and then Los Angeles. Then grad school, a series of teaching jobs that fluctuate in stability, and now I am here.

A friend recently suggested that was gutsy. I suggested it was stupid. We agreed on one point- it was necessary. That is absolute truth. I lived to talk about it. And it changed my view of life. I am ever so thankful.

5. Communication and Translation
Dance has taught me how and when to communicate, how to translate ideas into movement and/or written word. It has taught me how to collaborate, look for opportunity, and trust the process even when I have difficulty trusting people.

And last but not least, it involves TIME and SPACE. The EFFORT comes in how articulately we navigate through our journey.

Oh, Doctor. Maybe I am already on a great trip. But my front door is now TARDIS blue if ever you need to find me.

Further Pigeons and Their Holes

And then there is the question that follows the conundrum of what I do.

“So what kind of dance do you do?”

Well, shoot- how much time do you really have?

Okay, so I usually say, “mostly modern and jazz, but I have a strong background in ballet.” In truth, I create modern dance works. I was hired to do mostly jazz. Ballet is something that the other person is most likely to understand and have a frame of reference for. But even those labels don’t really fit. They don’t tell the whole story. And as I see it, and have been exploring in my teaching recently- nothing is pure anymore.

Because we, as a field, don’t even really know how to talk about movement neatly. Consider the whole “contemporary” controversy. We can’t decide who the title belongs to, if it is a credit or an insult, if it is concert or commercial. “Modern” to dancers offers one notion but to a non-dancer, it is completely different. And yet, people insist on labels and primly packaged descriptions of dance (and well, everything else). Creativity-centered instruction to boost critical-thinking is a whole other post waiting to be written…..

I equally dread this at Meet the Teacher night and Parent/Teacher conferences there but at least for those I have a line: “all of them and none of them”. To which, naturally, I get very odd looks but I go on to explain that I tend to teach in a stylistically neutral way but that I teach the principles of dance that can be applied in any movement situation.

When I can see they don’t believe me, or may just not really know what this means, I explain that I teach the tools and then we explore how they are used in styles such as modern, jazz, and ballet. I provide a few examples of what I mean.

For some families, this is very exciting. A whole new world and understanding open up. They start taking over the conversation with how these concepts could be applied to other subject areas. For others, they are frustrated at what seems to be a non-answer and eventually they walk away. I always end up wondering what else could be said to help them understand or rather, help them feel included.

But I am further struck by conversations with people that, in theory, should have some something to contribute to the conversation. If this week has taught me anything, we seem to have shared baggage about body image and about identity.

Here is an anecdote about another topic many dance educators haven’t quite figured out:

One day my husband was talking to an acquaintance who has described herself as a dancer (studio, non-professional) and mentioned Pina Bausch (I love that man). Her facial expression indicated she didn’t know the name and she asked what style of dance Pina choreographed. The Hub said she was a modern dance choreographer. This woman screwed up her face and said, “oh we don’t like modern. My teacher is classically trained.”

WOW. So we *still* can’t encourage dancers to watch and value all dance.

The exposure required goes beyond those that don’t dance, it must include those that do.

The Legacy of Body

H has my movement sensibility. She has my height and strong-like-bull stature. I hope she adopts the celebration of my body I am enjoying now and not the criticisms and sense of defeat that have been present at other points in my life.

I have a hard time discerning how much of my feelings about my body are from being a dancer and how much are common for every woman. I realize probably every woman has challenges with body image and developing a healthy picture of how the ideal body should look and feel at least within a phase of their life. Dealing with middle schoolers on a daily basis, and asking them to look in the mirror often, I know this is true.

I am increasingly more conscious of what my body- the concept, the reference, the physical identity- means for my daughter. What will be the legacy of body in our family?

I have been having a fascinating conversation with a dear and brilliant friend much of this summer about the body and body image. We are making important personal connections of how our bodies mark our family lineage not only in physical resemblance but also in how we relate to the women in our families, namely our mothers. My friend has been reading a book that has been inspired some of this conversation.

My own body is very different from my mother’s. So is my health.

I am short. I am muscular. Even in my thinnest of times, I have a roll of skin around my waist that I have feared made me look fat. (ha!)

When I introduce myself as a dancer, I think most people are surprised. In truth, I don’t know what they are thinking but I always think they are thinking that I don’t look like a dancer (sylph or stripper). I think I am glad on both accounts. But I always fight the urge of saying, “I know I don’t fit your image of a dancer”. On some level, I feel like I have to apologize for not living up to the picture in their minds. In truth, how many even have a picture of a dancer in their minds? And even if I looked differently, it still wouldn’t help them understand what I do. But that is a whole other post waiting to be written….

So, what do I want my daughter to inherit?
A sense that if you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
A sense that with strength and flexibility, you can do anything.
A sense that health beats skinniness.
A sense of how to eat properly.
A sense that she doesn’t have to conform.
A sense that happiness is the best feeling of all.
A sense that she is worth it.

And a sense that……

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

Thank you, Shakespeare.
Thanks, Mom, for it being true. It is one quality we do share.

I think H has it, too.