What Dance Has Brought Me
Imagine this: You walk onto the stage and see hundreds of people looking at you, judging you, and waiting for you to mess up. As you close your eyes and take a deep breath, you inhale all the negativity and comparison in the room, and you exhale everything at that moment that is stopping you from dancing to your fullest ability. You exhale because your body physically can’t go on without you letting go. As you open your eyes, not only do you feel safe, but you trust yourself and you trust that you know what you are doing.
Dance has always given me an understanding of who I am. Growing up, I never played soccer or basketball like other kids. I never got straight A’s in school, and I didn’t look like the other girls in my classes. My life felt so different from everyone and I never understood why my brain wouldn’t work as fast as other kids. I convinced myself that I was stupid and that my body didn’t work. I was miserable with who I was and wished I was the same as everyone else. As time went by, I discovered I had a learning disability, meaning I couldn’t comprehend subjects like math and science like everyone else. I was stuck inside of a body that felt broken. Everything in my life felt so inconsistent; everything except for dance! Every test I failed pushed me to become a better dancer. It gave me a feeling of power knowing I had control over at least one thing in my life. As time went on, with the many places I lived I found a dance studio to be a part of. This is where the consistency came in. with all the different places I lived in from moving down the street all the way to Israel, I kept dancing. I kept giving the world what I thought was the one thing I had to offer.
The power of being able to express one’s self through dance has impacted many people. East High School’s dance teacher Paige Farlow says, “Growing up, dance was the only thing I felt like I was good at. I wasn't fond of school and really wasn't too great at it, to be honest. I got good enough grades to get by, but I wasn't interested in being an overachieving scholar. Dancing intrigued and challenged me in ways academic classes didn't. My mind always wandered during school and I mostly thought about dancing. Even thinking about it would give me the rush that drew me to it. It was like I entered another world when I danced or even thought about it. I know it sounds cliche, but when people say the world just disappears around you, it does. That is what it feels like. I remember many days sitting at my desk, especially in high school, and going over my choreography repertoire in my head in an attempt to master it perfectly for class that evening or my next performance. I would very subtly move my fingers to imitate the movement happening in my head. I couldn't wait to get to the studio and try it outside of my head after envisioning it so perfectly in my mind.” The true words that Ms. Paige has shared are truthfully how most dancers view the world.
My brother, Aviv Halevi, has found that he never fits in at school. Whether that’s socially or academically, he’s expressed resentment towards fitting in. As he struggles with dyslexia, there is a feeling of displacement he feels within the schools he’s been to. Aviv found his soul’s purpose, and that didn’t mean being a straight-A student. He found his calling through dance. At age ten Aviv became a part of the Sweatshop studio’s dance team. During the weekend he felt seen and understood at the dance competitions. As soon as Monday hit and he had to go to school Aviv says “I feel like a nobody”. This being said. Dance has influenced not only Aviv’s mental health but others who relate to his story. Paige Farlow says “Dancing made me feel confident, it challenged me physically and mentally, it provided me with a safe space to try new things and take risks, and allowed me to express myself. It made me feel unique and a part of something special. I have anxiety - for as long as I can remember, I have been anxious. Anxiety is something that I struggled with then and still struggle with today. The studio and dance helped me escape my constant worries, provided me with stability, and fostered my talents and creativity. It helped me develop character, healthy humility, and the ability to accept constructive criticism and feedback”. As for me, being able to express myself through dance has given me a sense of stability. Countless times I have felt a difference in my mental health before and after going to dance. My mom would always say “you will feel better after dance” and she was always right. Elite dance.com says “The physical movements of dance have been shown to reduce levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Much like aerobic exercise, dance provides relief from stress and tension.” Dance has provided many people with opportunities to express who they are without feeling judged. A safe place where you can be who you truly are.
I will forever be grateful for what I’ve been able to experience and accomplish through the dance industry. The people I’ve met and the opportunities I have had made me who I am. “To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful. This is the power, it is glory on earth, and it is yours for the taking”. Dance, you are my abiding love.