Stoking the Dance Fire

Hi dancers! How’s Day 6549723 in quarantine going for you? It’s starting to feel like a real-life version of Groundhog Day here, without the public gatherings of course. I’m coming to you a day early because the day job asked me to take some vacation days while I barely have any work to do (insert slightly worried emoji here).

Week after week of staying home is creating a new challenge for me in writing. I usually take inspiration from my experiences, and after five weeks of basically the same experience, it’s kinda hard to come up with something new to write about!

Week 5 did bring a couple new developments that I’ll share. I also want to remind you that the next workshop in The Girl with the Tree Tattoo series is only a week away, so be sure to register soon! These workshops are just one way I’m stoking the inner dance fire (keep reading, I’ll explain).

I shared last week that I was dealing with some depression and lack of motivation, along with frustration over my slow-to-recover knees. As Joan Baez said, action is the antidote to despair, so I was still making efforts to take action to shift my mindset.

This week, I continued those efforts in small doses (remember: pace yourself). I attended Teacher’s online group class on Wednesday, which focused on American Tango basics. Honestly, it felt a little strange as I heard the familiar phrases and ideas and went through the familiar drills, like I was revisiting a past life.

I’m curious if anyone else has encountered this feeling. A part of me feels like my dancer’s journey is somehow over. The combination of everything being cancelled or shut down and my knees flaring up for weeks now has certainly provided the proper setting for nurturing this belief. I can’t go out to dance and I can barely dance at home.

The extreme uncertainty of our future doesn’t help either. The timeline for getting to the next “normal” remains TBD. Even once governments start to execute their plans to reopen areas of the country, larger gatherings (like dance competitions) are likely to come later than sooner. As an anxious and depressed person, I have a knack for seeing the worst case scenarios and none of them have me dancing again.

But that’s just part of me. The rest of me knows logically that this current reality will soon give way to another normal, and I will dance again with someone other than my dogs. I think I’d like the first dance back to be a Waltz. Or maybe a Nightclub 2-Step (it’s just so relaxing!).

The important thing for me to do right now, in this reality, is to not let the part of me focused on the unrealistic worst case scenarios to take over and control my actions. In order to do that, I need to stimulate the other part of me who isn’t ready to put her dance shoes in storage. Heck, I bought a new-to-me competition dress right before this whole quarantine nonsense went down. No way the new normal doesn’t give me an opportunity to wear it!

That dancer inside me is like a fire that’s had a bucket of water dumped on it. The fire wasn’t extinguished completely, but the sudden deluge definitely did some damage. Slowly, the most inner embers started to glow a bit more and heat up the surrounding charcoal. Under normal circumstances, I’d throw more fuel on the fire and get it burning big and bright again. Resources are limited in this new reality though. I’ve lost my normal fuel reserves, like dance lessons and upcoming competitions. So instead of building a big roaring fire, I aim to maintain a few small flames to give me a light and some warmth in the darkness.

What that means in non-metaphorical terms is taking an occasional group class and being fully present in the moment. The past and future don’t matter; right now, I’m just going to focus on using my hips to create the curve in my Tango walk. It means continuing to take care of my knees and being ok with the fact that they’re taking their sweet time recovering. At least they’re not acting this way right before a competition!

Stoking that small fire also means continuing to show up on this blog. My dancing and writing have been intertwined for years. Usually, the dancing supports the writing in the form of inspiration. Now, the roles reverse as the writing supports the dancing in the form of encouragement and reminders to pace myself but also keep going.

I actually feel a little more hopeful after writing this. My inner dance fire must be glowing a little brighter. It’s easier to maintain a few flickering flames than a huge bonfire over a long period of time. Less energy is required. Something to keep in mind during stressful times when so much else is using our energy!

Just for fun and to stoke your dance fire a bit, share in the comments what you want your first dance back to be!

Stay healthy, dancers, and don’t forget to sign up for the next workshop!

2 thoughts on “Stoking the Dance Fire

  1. lisaplummersavas says:

    I completely relate to this, Katie – my husband is out of work and my tiny writer’s salary isn’t nearly enough to support the three private lessons per week that I was able to enjoy before the pandemic. While I’m able to take advantage of the (much more affordable) semi-privates my coach is offering online, I can’t afford virtual privates with him, and who knows what will happen when I’m able to get back to the studio, if and when it even opens back up. I know I’m meant to do this and will do whatever it takes to keep my dance journey alive (including bumping up my solo practice!), but there are just so many unknowns and uncertainties right now, and they really eat at me if I allow them to. I just know that when I finally get back out there on the competition floor, I am going to be sobbing with such gratitude. Dance is everything to me, as I know it is to you and all the dancers reading your blog, and we will get through this. We just don’t know what that path back is going to look like or how long it’s going to take until we can return to that place that is our true home – the beautiful ballroom floor.

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