I Stopped Dancing...
Yes, you read that right. I stopped dancing.
I feel like my dance journey has been a whole roller coaster in my head but I’ve never really processed it until now. If you follow me on social media or have known me long enough, you know that I am a dancer. I’ve danced ever since I was a little girl.
My dance journey started in church through praise dance. My mom was my first dance teacher. I did mime, plays, tambourine and even banners. Those were the good ol' days. Once I got to middle school, I auditioned to be a part of the dance team at my school. I remember practicing so hard in my room. I either danced to Kirk Franklin or Mary Mary. But one thing is for sure, I killed it! Lol I made the team and I was trained by the one and only Ms. G. If you know who she is, you know the amazing dance teacher and woman she was and still is. Middle school is really a blur to me but dance was the highlight of it all. I was then so excited to go to high school because I had heard about their dance team’s reputation. But once I finally got there, I did not join because I didn’t think it was a good fit for me. Because of that I met my favorite theater teacher, Ms. Giles, who pushed me in other ways. From my freshman year all the way to graduation, I acted in so many plays, I sang, and I danced. (I also was in choir, shout out to Mr. Williams.) She placed me to choreograph for all the musicals, fashion shows and to even start my own dance crew. Lol (If you know, you know.) Reflecting on these memories, I am always thankful for two teachers who saw potential in me and brought out my confidence. I still am in touch with them and I want them to know how much of an impact they had on me.
In the course of my dance journey I have experienced many lessons. My confidence always fluctuated in the different chapters of my life. For example, I struggled with my appearance when I was younger. I always felt like I was the bigger one out of dancers around me. (Looking back, duh, I was as skinny as a toothpick) If you are a dancer, you know that comparison will defeat you sometimes. I felt that I was not good enough so many times that I couldn’t even count. I also felt that I was behind because I did not take class as much as others. The negative self-talk was real. But even with all of those insecurities, I have always felt deep down that I could eventually do something with dance. To be a back-up dancer for an artist or pursue a career, or SOMETHING, ANYTHING in dance. As I got older, those dreams went away but God always has a plan. In 2016, I became a dance teacher which is where I am now. My first year teaching felt like a dream come true! I had no idea what I was doing but it was fun and I am grateful for that beginning. Teaching dance has been the most rewarding thing that I have ever done in my life. Showing kids my passion and getting paid for it? What? I absolutely loved it. Overtime though, it can become stressful, routine-ish, and just tiring especially if you do not take care of yourself. I feel like that is what happened to me. So many changes in my body, my personal life, teaching stressors and my health just made me too tired to not take care of ME. Before starting my 4th year teaching in 2019-2020 school year, I had to check myself and put myself first. So I did just that. I started to work out again, I was more aware of myself, and I took more days off for me. I felt like myself again. I even started to go to more dance classes without any of my expectations and just went to go have fun! I felt my best self!
In the beginning of 2020, I challenged myself to do Freestyle Friday’s. Every Friday I would post a video on my personal page and dance to my favorite songs, suggestions, and whatever I felt. The goal for this was to dance for myself, grow in my craft, and be more confident at freestyling. As a dance teacher, dancing was becoming a routine rather than a passion and I lost myself in teaching my kids but not pouring into myself. So this is what I did. Then obviously, COVID hit in March for us, I got soooo discouraged. I had to teach dance online. I was in a FUNK yall!!! So I eventually stopped my Freestyle Friday’s & then August came.
I have a confession. During the time that my dad was in the hospital, I went to a dance class. The only reason why I went was because I had previously planned and paid for the class. Otherwise, I would’ve never gone if I am honest. The Monday following that weekend, my dad passed. And I don’t know but I felt guilty and shame for being at the dance class while my dad was at the hospital. So I legitimately stopped dancing. I stopped my freestyles way before that too. I stopped moving. I stopped the form of expression that I always preached to my kids. I stopped dancing for me. I stopped dancing…
Time passed and I attended a counseling session with my pastor. I went in with no expectations and in my mind I wanted to be strong I guess. Like, “Okay, my first session to talk about the death of my dad. I got this”. The session was really good and eye-opening and helped me to understand about the grieving process from a spiritual perspective but then he had asked me a question that threw me off guard. He asked me if I have danced. I literally looked away, sat there in silence, and I started crying. The answer was no.
Looking back to that moment, the weeks prior and weeks to come, the truth is that I was scared to dance again. You see because if you are a dancer, you understand that dance is your truest form of expression. Just as an artist with his paints, just as a rapper with his lyrics, just as a poet with this poems, just as a singer with their voice. I was afraid of facing my reality. How would I dance again? I could not bring myself to it. I get emotional when I think of my dancing because I second guess myself. I think I went to one dance class after my dad passed, but it was not the same. Physically of course, out of shape and a challenge. But I knew deep down that, I had to express myself in MY own way. Not through someone else’s moves. So it was just another dance class for me although I highly respected and admired the dance teacher for a while. In addition to this, I was still teaching dance last semester but I was literally on auto pilot! No emotion, no intention, no passion.
On November 28 of 2020, I stepped into my old room at my parents’ house. The room that they turned into a prayer room. The room that we prayed in everyday when my dad was in the hospital. The room where we cried to God. The room where we felt peace. The room where we danced in faith for my dad’s victory. The room where we regained strength for every day. That Saturday evening, I finally danced. When I tell you how tense my body was before I started because I was so scared of dancing. It was hard. I feared the tears exploding uncontrollably or something. I get emotional thinking about that moment still because even in my despair I felt God there with me. I danced. I danced. And I danced. I sang and moved. I cried and was in peace. It was unexplainable but a special moment to say the least. I was proud of myself for finally dancing again. I know my dad and God were too.
It makes me sad to say that I did stop dancing for a long time. Dance has always been a part of my life. It’s been what I have always known. But now, it’s hard for me to freestyle. Because I feel like I am holding myself back from true healing. God has been my peace in this time but I feel that God knows that I express myself through dance. My dance is my worship. Dance is my art to God. Dance is my therapy. Dance is a gift that I love that God gave me. I know I am not a professional dancer like I always wanted or I am not the best out there but my passion and love for it makes it what it is. I don’t think that I would be where I am with my OWN dance journey. I am content with my dance journey. I thank God for the journey.
Let’s be real though. I WILL NEVER STOP DANCING! Dancing is a gift that God has graced me therefore I will continue to do so until I can’t anymore. I am so blessed to have it and I wouldn’t trade it for any other gift in the world. With all of that being said, I feel like God is calling me into a season where I dance with a purpose. Growing up, I always envisioned myself in dance videos. I grew up watching music videos on MTV and all that jazz. While I listened to music, my head was spinning of ideas of how I would act or dance as if I was in the music video. Lol Literally, not joking. I honestly, still have those visions. So here I am bringing my concept videos back to life. I have many planned for the year.
This song really brought me back to worship. This song reminded me that I needed just one more reason to dance. One reason to keep going in this crazy life. One reason to continue to fight despite the pain. The reason is…God holds my whole world. God holds me when I can’t take it anymore. That’s it. I hope that you enjoy my interpretation of this dance. Thank you all for reading my blog once again. Know that God has you and the whole world in his hands.
P.S. Moving forward I will be doing a dance cover/dance concept video every month for a year. One of my goals for 2021. This has been on my heart for years now and I am finally not holding back anymore.