Outsiders of the dance world (the same people who ask “oh, so what type of dance do you do?” while you roll your eyes with an exasperated sigh) are always wanting to know why we dance. Why spend every night in a sweltering dance studio doing plies for the sixth time? Why endure the blistered heels and calloused feet that no pedicure could single-handedly fix? Why spend your free time gorging on youtube dance videos and choreographing pieces only your bedroom will ever see? And sometimes (when you’re staying up till midnight doing homework), it’s a little trickier to come up with an answer.
But I’ve learned recently that we, all of us, don’t have a say in the matter. Why dance? Because not dancing isn’t even an option. Someone told me once that you don’t choose your passion; your passion chooses you. This could never be truer. We all dance because we love it. It’s the kind of love that hums in your veins and burrows itself in your bones (and maybe that’s why our hips always hurt?), making it impossible to get rid of. We don’t dance for a medal or for recognition. We don’t dance for fame or sometimes even for fun. We dance because we have to.
I would not be me if I did not dance. Sixteen plus years of standing at the ballet bar have made me into the person I am today. It’s hard for outsiders of the dance world to understand. Honestly? Sometimes it’s difficult for even me to wrap my head around. There’s something so beautiful about dance. It can be a sport, an art form, an escape. It’s different for everyone and it does not matter how you choose to interpret dance. It’s like poetry in the form of a soaring jeté or the roll of the shoulders. There’s always a story to tell and there’s always a new way to tell it.
I know a lot of people at my studio who claim to “not be a writer” (Kelli included), but is that not what we do when we dance? We breathe our souls into the movement of the body. We pour our entire being into three minutes and twenty-four seconds. We are all writing our own story each time we dance and it is a beautiful, spiritual, magical thing to experience.
As soon as I was born, I was thrust into the dance world, simultaneously wanting to be a prima ballerina and a hip hop diva. This dance dominated chapter of my life is coming to a close soon and I can’t help but muse on what I have learned, how it has changed me. I created friendships that will last for the rest of my life. I developed a second family, a second home. I learned to love my body and respect myself. I found out that not everyone can be trusted and some people will do anything to get to the top. Dance made me who I am today and my experiences in the dance world will transform me into the person I will grow to be as well.
We are all dancers. We dance because we can. Because we need to. Because we took our first steps on tap shoe scuffed floors and said our first goodbyes blinded by a stream of stage lights. Why dance, you ask? Why lose your week nights and, let’s be real, your sanity? It’s a different answer for everyone, but for me, it’s a way to channel my emotions. For others, it’s to be connected. And for someone else, it could be because they are inspired. I’ve heard it said that dancing is a complete waste of time, but how anyone could think that, I’ll never know. Dance is so much more than just an arrangement of eight counts. For dancers? It’s what makes us, us.
You wanna know “why dance”? Well, I wanna know, “why not”?