“When I learned to dance, I learned to dream.” Diana Vreeland
As a young child I took gymnastics. I remember enjoying the balance beam and floor work. My sister and I would spend hours doing somersaults, round-offs and cartwheels in the grassy field across from our family’s house.
In seventh grade P.E., I spent much of my time on the balance beam and especially liked loping down the mat and launching off the vault. Later, in my teens, I forgot how to move.
While studying massage therapy in my early twenties, I realized it was an art form and learned how to listen with my hands, tune in to the rhythm of the client’s muscle and connective tissue and then slowly dance around the table warming and working with the body. After moving across the country and taking an office job, I forgot how to dance.
Years later, after having children and struggling with my new body, mind, and life I hopped on a log in a Seattle park as my husband and I escorted a young couple to a spot overlooking the Sound where the young man had planned a surprise proposal. As I walked along the rough wood, flashes of being a little girl on the balance beam came to mind and I felt the rush of muscle memory, of body memory, returning to the surface. I remembered I could dance.
Now, the discipline of dance (despite the struggle to train my mind and body to listen, coördinate and obey) frees my mind like nothing else in the world. It allows me to travel in peace in my mind to places I never imagined existed. Away from the clucking chickens, piles of laundry and the everyday pleasant persona I assume to make it through the day.
Dance’s gradual rehardwiring of body and mind gives me the mental and emotional strength needed to go home and be a present, capable person and mother.