When life is good, I go to the studio…when life is crap, I go to the studio.
Lately my life has been resting on the second phrase of that statement. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit how lost I am from the endings of 2016. The year of “change” as they say. Woof, as I say. So what did I do? Let’s just say I lost it to trying. So I stopped trying, and went to the studio.
I’m not trying to escape the aches and pains of change by forcing forward distracting myself from the truth that is my life. Nah, I’m just trying to master the art of “just be.” Just for a while. Be still. A simple enough concept, but for the movers of the world it seems dang near impossible at times.
The one thing I know to be true at all times of my life even in the lost times, is dance studios. The comfort and ease I feel when I walk into these empty rooms is what I know to be home anywhere. I can breathe in these rooms, I grew up in these rooms, and I am more myself in these rooms than anywhere else in the world. It doesn’t even matter which studio it is, it is the space it holds and what that space represents. I have everything I need in this space that has nothing.
When I step into this room nothing else exists, the noise of my mind dissipates and I’m left with just music and movement. No problems, no worries, no bs, just a secret stage to transfer the weight of it all into my footing. Here, there are no missteps; here I know it will be ok. No one can take this away from me. I’ve learned to be broken down here and built up even stronger. I’m limitless in this space, an empty canvas that teeter-totters back and forth between the adrenaline of possibility and becoming defeated with intimidation. A constant battle for every dancer, that reminds me, I’m exactly where I need to be.
As dancers, one of the first things we are taught is, “leave it at the door.” This means that through the everyday challenges that life brings, you leave it at the door. This concept is somewhat universal, however, when I give it repetition it is life changing. You bring what you need, and you let go of the rest. This room only works if you allow it to, so what you bring with you will either free you or consume you. It’s a giant therapy box with a giant mirror. I’d be very careful what you bring to this personal microscope.
What makes this even messier is how emotionally in tune you have to be as a dancer; a key note that rarely gets touched on in a classroom, but is a huge part of our make up. We are privileged to learn at a young age to connect and express with our emotions, to communicate with only our bodies, to be ok with being open and that vulnerability is a good thing. Ha! Try convincing the rest of the world of that. This means that we work through our feelings, emotions, fears, you name it in that room. We dance it out. And if we don’t have our outlet of this empty room, this studio, this space we become what I like to call “emotionally constipated.” Sounds lovely eh?
Any dancer can tell you how detrimental it is to our well-being to not have this outlet of going to the studio. It doesn’t even matter if life is going our way or not…we need it to have balance so we can be off center. That might sound like two opposing ideas, but to me it makes total sense. A dancer without a studio is equivalent to a fish out of water. We will flop around frantically trying to find our way until we realize we can’t breathe, it’s not our normal habitat, and we can only survive so long without it. Fish have to swim - dancers have to move. Corny? Yes, but true.
Exhibit A - I once hired studio space in London, to walk into that room, move around for 5 min. and then retire to the middle of the floor for the remaining 55min. I just needed to be in that space to find myself, to feel like myself, even if it meant not moving. It’s my home, and it will always bring me back. I paid £75, took a 40min. train ride, walked 6-“New York” blocks, but to me it was worth it just to hug the dance floor.
My lifesaver lately has been a trip to the studio and a cup of soup, two very different things that actually make the ultimate duo. They are my comfort food, and what’s kept me moving. Soooooup, who doesn’t love soup? When you are sick, when nothing else sounds good, when you want something cozy…SOUP!
For the last 2 months I’ve been a regular at the Whole Foods vegan soup bar. So much so that I could tell you the whole soup lineup for the week, and the cashiers know me by name. I scoop my soup, go to the studio, and just move around in the 4 walls, marley floor, and dirty mirrors. All the while, I’m leaving it at the door, and getting it out. Slowly. Just my soup + the studio. Whether I warmed up, choreographed, lip synced “Baby Got Back” on my runners stick/microphone, or danced out my heartbreak until I ended up lying on the floor in my own sweat and tears…this room, this space is saving me. The soup, not so much...
After an impromptu trip to the emergency room, stitches, and almost chopping off the top of my finger to make my own “healing broth” to remedy a cold…I decided I had had enough soup. I had had enough being still, I had had enough being terrified to make the next move in my life, despite where my last leap of faith had crashed me.
A suitcase of clothes, 2 boxes of belongings, a year of my life, jobless, hurt, and living in the room above my parents. I could be humiliated, embarrassed, regretful, angry, and mad at the world. Hell, I have the right to be broken down, curled up in the fetal position...but I’m not. I don’t have to be and I won’t be. I gave it my all. Sometimes all the wrong moves get you to the right ones. You just have to keep moving, or in my case, keep returning to the space that moves you. Find that…the thing that keeps you going, even when you can’t bear to.
Written December 2016