“You! sit,” she said to me as she strolled into the studio.
I had a minor overuse injury in both of my knees at the time but insisted on coming to class anyway. Yet, much to my dismay, all of the teachers made me sit out. I learned a lot during those two weeks of sitting against the cold, hard glass of the mirror, more than I had in the three years I had been dancing.
I have not always really been a dancer, but I have always loved art. When I was little I would insist on drawing my own pictures instead of following the useless color by number sheets the teacher passed out. I lived for the days my mother would let me play my nutcracker cassette and I would jump around the living room to “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.” However, because I did not take any formal dance classes until I was 13, I never had restrictions on making art. Sickness and injury could not hold me back from painting, drawing, or even making pottery, from putting something out into the world. I never had to stop.
So when I hurt my knees, not being able to create was a foreign concept to me, and while I knew I loved dance, I did not think it was something I could not live without. For two weeks I watched my teammates do pirouettes and grand jettes and learn hip hop combinations. I could not stand it. I begged to be allowed to dance, swearing to take it easy, pleading to be allowed to participate through barre, I was desperate to dance. Even such a small injury forced me to think about what it would be like to have to give up not only dance, but art in general, and I could not bare to imagine a life where I could no longer contribute to society in the only way I have ever known how.
I have always said that the world is an ugly place, and that my reason for wanting to make art was so that there would be something pretty to balance out the harsh, cold world. Yet that summer I finally understood that my drive to make art, my drive to dance and perform does not come from a desire to beautify the world, it comes from an inherent need to create. Being fairly introspective, I have always found it difficult to communicate with the world and contribute to society verbally and socially, but with art, communication comes naturally. I can feel the ideas scattered inside my head translate into the physical world. It feels amazing when I have successfully communicated who I am with the world.
It’s funny how those two weeks dragged out much longer than the three years of dance that had preceded them. The restriction on my ability to create taught me much more than the notes I forced myself to take while watching. I do not want to look back on my life and see that I have not contributed to the world, that I do not have anything to leave behind. Everyone wants their story to be remembered, but now I realize that I just want to leave this world having lived a life full of expression and creativity.
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