Monday, January 26, 2009

transitioning back

My dance blog has been fairly quiet this year, as I was pregnant and gave birth to my daughter, Story. I danced until I was about eight months pregnant, then took a hiatus from dancing until the end of December. I am a solid believer in honoring your body and not jumping into anything physical until you're ready, so I felt I had to hold off until I was capable of devoting enough energy to make dance worthwhile.

I've now been to two practices with Kallisti since coming back from maternity leave and WHEW, have I lost a ton of strength and endurance. It's crazy how taking four months off can really undo years of physical training! Combine this with the fact that my abdominals are still severely weakened due to my c-section and I am completely feeling like a newbie to dance. It's almost as if I'm a totally different person, one who did not spend years studying and dancing semi-professionally. All of the mental knowledge is there: I still know the movements, I remember the cues, I know how these moves are supposed to be executed, but my muscles are like, "WHA?" Or, even worse, are exhausted within a fraction of the time. I cannot believe that I used to be able to dance to a twenty minute set without being tired. Now, I'm lucky if I can make it through a ten minute set without panting like a dog!

But there is a very positive side of this. And I know it's going to sound hella cheesy. But, I kind of feel like I'm rediscovering dance. Like I'm a neophyte, just becoming aware of the beauty of the movements, the intricacy of the system of improvisational bellydance and the joy of dancing with my partners. By being so out of the loop for so long, I'm having to examine and relearn everything I've known about dance. From the very basics of each move- foot placement, posture, arm placement, flow to even my motivation and passion.

And I'm finding I'm a different dancer and, I think in time, a better dancer. Right now I'm sloppy. I kind of feel like some tribal penguin, waddling a bit oafishly through the movements. But I'm also motivated by true love and passion, as opposed to (dare I say it, eek!) an overabundance of pride, arrogance and cockiness. With the birth of Story, I am no longer looking to dance to be my major achievement, the thing I do that sets me apart and makes me flashy and shiny. I find that Story is now my major achievement, I need nothing else. Instead, dance is now my sanctuary, the precious thing that is now wholly mine, when all of the rest of my energy goes towards my daughter, her happiness and well-being. I find that, for my lack of grace and wobbly self-confidence, dance is now much more of a joy than the job it used to be for me.

The hardest obstacle I face is my confidence, or lack thereof. I find myself feeling so out of shape, so out of practice that I feel like a detriment to my dance partners. I know that they support me and understand my tribal penguin ways, but a big part of dancing with them is the desire to not let them down. I also have to face my own overachiever brain that is yelling at me, "you suck! You've totally lost your mojo. And just LOOK at you!" It's a hard voice to face, my own critical monster. I am fighting it every time I look in the mirror, every time I practice at home. I don't want to be the weak link in our troupe, though I know that I am for the present. I'll get back into fighting shape, I just have to overcome my inner critic.

So, that's the current status of my dance life. A delightful rediscovery tempered with a lack of confidence. It's a blessing and a curse, but both of which I think will make me a stronger woman and dancer once I'm through it.