If there is one thing I miss while in quarantine, it is space to move. Like most dancers in the world right now, I am confined to my 7×11 room with a portable barre. A makeshift studio. I am grateful for this small space, even though my body longs for the expansive studios I used to soar in not too long ago. I miss feeling free.
I have been enjoying my time taking virtual classes and teaching on online platforms. They give me energy and inspiration during these uncertain times. My heart still mourns canceled performances and postponed opportunities. For weeks, I felt the heaviness of disappointment and found it difficult to keep the tears in when the notes of my favorite ballets would play through my speakers.
I have tried to keep bringing myself back to the present and focus on what I can still do, zooming-in on weaknesses I usually don’t have too much time to sit with. Taking a good look at what I need to physically improve upon and discovering exercises to help me reach these goals. These have kept me moving but nothing could really heal the sadness I felt not just for myself, but for the world.
I took time to really dig deeper into how I was feeling. To embrace the sadness and loss and put these into perspective. What came from this new awareness was the feeling that I was missing something. I’ve been so focused on keeping myself physically moving that I overlooked the kind of mental strengthening I also needed to dedicate some time to. Of course, continuing my physical training is important… But I often ask myself, why? Why is it still important to me?
In the silence, fear has grown louder. Uncertainty swarms my mind like hornets around a beehive. There are old patterns of thinking that are sticky in my mind like wet concrete. I know that if I dwell in such negative thinking, it will harden around me and become more difficult to break out of. Thoughts of hopelessness knock on the door of my brain like unwanted but expected guests. They bring along with them their families of doubt, anxiety, criticism, desperation…. These guests walk through my mind with their dirty shoes… Disrespectfully invading what should be my sanctuary.
I have had more time to notice these “guests.” I’ve found myself feeling restless and distracted by them. Ballet class used to feel like a meditation. It was my time every day to prepare my body for the work ahead. Why did trying to do ballet class at home feel so foreign? It felt different and only reminded me of the old experience of taking class that I long for and miss.
Without having the goal of preparing my body for rehearsals and upcoming performances, I needed to define a new purpose to train at home.
I needed a bigger purpose than just to “stay in shape” or simply to feel relevant in the dance community because I was taking classes. The answer came to me after weeks of reflection.
I should continue dancing out of love, not out of fear.
I should choose to dedicate my time to dancing not because of how it looks on social media, but because of how it brings me closer to myself.
Doing ballet everyday isn’t necessary for rehearsals or performances. It isn’t part of my life for any outward experience. Ballet is something I choose to spend my time doing because it feels like home. It is my time to go inwards. To put my mind in my muscles and my eyes on my soul. It is a safe space to create and move and enhance who I am — not just physically but also emotionally.
The experience of having to “tune-in” to a different frequency. Like a radio. We have the ability to turn the volume down on stations we don’t like or learn how to change channels all together. We raise our frequency to music that moves us to change.
Ballet is physically difficult but it is more intense on the mind. Having to be present to our bodies and to keep moving carrying the weight of our sadness and fear or anger and criticism. Every day, ballet teaches me. It teaches me to be creative. To dance because it makes me happy. To release the need to please or be validated. To continue improving, not matter how difficult. It teaches me the value of my time and to be more conscious about how I use it. It shows me the power of my own energy and to decide what type of energy I carry. Mostly, ballet teaches me to go inward and create beauty in silence.
If we can create anything right now, let it be the beauty of our souls.
Let us take time to breathe for those who cannot.
The greatest gift we can give our world at this time is our inner peace.
Change the channel — then channel peace.