Monday, February 15, 2010

The Alvin Ailey Dance Company

As I blogged previously, I went out with just a friend to see the internationally acclaimed dance company. Sitting comfortably in my seat, I watched the lean muscled bodies move and intertwine with each other. "Dancers have horrible feet, but great bodies," I thought as I recalled how three dancers who attended the Alvin Ailey Dance School lived above us three actress in the 3-story Brownstone in Brooklyn.

My mind wandered on how the individual dancers decided to dance as a profession? Only now that I'm in to physical fitness that I pay attention to how their profession shaped the way they walk and move elegantly. I wondered if my parents would have invested time and exposed me to different activities in my youth then how my life would have been different. What if they got me into dance? Would I be a dancer now?

I quickly dismissed the thought because I was a shy, chunky kid and would have never felt comfortable dancing around in a leotard (besides that one time in the privacy of my room where I pranced around in one after putting tissue in my bra for fake nipples- I wanted to be like Thelma from Good Times). I knew that I would have been teased for being fat, if anything. One childhood memory flashed of how I found myself on a balance beam where a gymnastics team practiced and I overheard the coach talk about how he was surprised that someone so fat could even climb up on the beam. I quickly jumped down and became invisible again. And, another time when my cousins and I created a dance routine and performed for the family. My aunt (my mom's oldest sister) said, "You keep on shaking like that then you'll be able to shake some of that fat right off of you."

Me, fat. Yep, as my Grandpa (see pic) used to say, "short, fat and squatty and ain't got no body." That was me. I envied those bodies on the stage as they moved around effortlessly. Could I do that? I mean...what about now that I am fearless about dancing in front of other people? I was tickled as one last memory popped into my head. When I was about 13, my mom had a friend who knew someone who danced. The lady took me to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Afterwards, we went to a party where all the dancers were gathered and she introduced me around. I was so excited, but embarrassed at my size while in the midst of so much beauty. I didn't see myself as beautiful so I pressed myself in the wall and tried to become invisible. I spent the night with the lady and the next morning I accompanied her to a dance workshop that they did for dancers. I watched in awe at how they were able to leap high, land low, twist and turn all about.

If I were skinnier, would I have had the audacity to believe in myself to dance freely? Maybe...maybe not. A greater thought all of those things shaped me to be who I am now. And more importantly, I've learned to expose my daughter while exposing myself to many opportunities and life experiences. That way, I can shape who I will continue to grow to be as well as the young woman who will grow old to be my legacy.

I exhaled slowy and realized that I am do exactly what I wished to do. As I dance, move and shake in Zumba. In that workout class, I am onstage and I perform as I dance. I have erased all of those old memories and am replacing them with new ones.

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