Back in the Studio

Happy Monday, dancers! I like to call today 50% off Chocolate Day. I used to go to the drug store every February 15 to stock up on discounted heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Now I don’t go to any stores! And my diet is considerably healthier these days, so we’ll leave the February 15th tradition with my younger self.

I got to spend part of my Valentine’s Day at the dance studio. It’s the first time I’ve been there for at least a month. I took an 11-day cross country trip and quarantined before and after. If you’re curious, you can read what it’s like to fly during a pandemic. It’s crazy how much more time and effort a trip requires these days, if you’re doing everything you can to stay safe.

With a negative COVID test result in my email and my quarantine period completed, it was time to put those dance shoes on again. The dance studio is one of those places that, even when I’ve been gone awhile, feels like I never left. Yesterday, I went in for a rehearsal of a group showcase number. The virtual performance has been pushed back a couple times already. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do it this time around, so we don’t have to take a long pause and then go through the process of trying to remember the routine once more. I was proud of myself that it only took me one run-through to shake the rust off. We’ll see!

For the first time in a long time, I felt an inkling of wanting to compete. I think the feeling stemmed from a combination of an uptick of social media posts announcing in-person or virtual competitions coming up and the fact that some of my fellow showcase students were staying after rehearsal to do practice rounds for a team match next week. I didn’t sign up for the team match when it was offered because 1) I honestly didn’t believe the pandemic restrictions would allow it to happen and 2) I had this trip coming up and knew I’d be losing a lot of practice time. Also, Teacher and I have spent most of the pandemic updating our Open choreography, so we haven’t danced a full round in I don’t know how long. It’s been a lot of fun to rework things, but it’s a different kind of enjoyment from the feeling I get dancing full out.

I think I was mostly missing a bit of pre-pandemic life. I loved a good afternoon of practice rounds when we’d dance full out and cheer each other on, without the pressure of judges or fake eyelashes. I’d go home sweaty, tired, and fulfilled. Since the pandemic, the idea of being in a ballroom full of heavy-breathing, sweaty dancers seemed far-fetched and risky. So it feels strange when I see reflections of that old life now. Almost like seeing a ghost. Maybe it’s just me; others seem to be doing fine reviving parts of the old life. I still get all of my groceries delivered and politely turn down invitations to backyard gatherings.

I joked with someone that leaving my apartment now feels like visiting another world. I live on an approximately 700-square foot planet with my two dogs. When we leave our planet, we return to Earth and encounter other humans, some of whom gather together in groups far larger than seems sensible during a pandemic. They go about their business, shopping, going out to eat, etc. and it all seems so foreign to us.

Hearing that people were doing practice rounds yesterday made me miss living on Earth as I knew it and being able to dance like I used to. There is a lot I don’t miss about my old pre-pandemic life. I love working from home and being with my dogs all day, not having to deal with social expectations like small talk. Even though I used to dismiss the idea of grocery delivery because I was picky about my produce, I thoroughly appreciate not going to the grocery store anymore. And I’ve never gotten a piece of produce that I didn’t approve of.

It took me two days to write this post because I couldn’t figure out where I was going with these shares. In the end, I think it’s enough to just share. I got to dance yesterday for the first time in a month, and I still miss dancing.

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