Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dancing Down In Front

The two most difficult phases of a physical transformation are the start and the finish.  We can define these phases a number of ways: the first five pounds, the last half inch off of the thighs, the first dress size, or the final effortless slide and zip of the skinny jeans.  You must find the first hard push at the start that overcomes inertia, and later, maybe much later, you have to dig down deep for the last stroke or kick that  propels you to the edge of the pool, or over the finish line, or through the door of your dream job on some future Monday morning.  It's called motivation from beginning to end because movement is always implied in the kind of physical transformation I'm talking about.

The initial push of motivation often comes from a singular event: a shocking number on the scale, the next size (or two) up, a careless comment from a stranger, or a deliberate warning from a doctor.  You literally get shoved by an experience, and change begins.  So now you've been pushed, but what will pull you in to the harbor of your hopes?  You must find the thing that you are willing to change, and keep changing for.

Five Days Of Dance

From Wednesday to Sunday I attended the Tremaine Dance Intensive at Debbie Reynold's dance studio in North Hollywood.  The caliber of the choreographers was astonishing, and the dancers attending were committed, talented, and excepting a handful of us teacher/choreographers, quite young.  I would guess the average age at around 16 or 17.  If you watch So You Think You Can Dance, take out the lifts and that's the level of skill that was asked of us in the toughest classes.  At the start of every class I would say to myself, "Catherine, you're a 47 year old musical theatre dancer.  Keep your mouth shut, your eyes open, and dance in the back."  I had every intention of doing just that, but you see, I've been training, studying, eating right, and getting enough sleep for the past three years, and something amazing happened.  I kept finding myself down in front.  Did I get every step, leap, fall, and extension?  No, but you can go a long way on style and experience, especially when they are joined by genuine fitness.

In The End, It Has Very Little To Do With The Way You Look.

When I started my transformation journey I really thought I was primarily after a change in appearance.  I wanted to look pretty, to be accepted, approved of and admired for being the right size and having a good figure.  That's what I thought.  On Saturday, our Funk choreographer Tony Belissimo asked a group of us why we weren't auditioning for the company, I quietly said, "I'm 47."  He looked me in the eye, in shock and said, "You're beautiful.  I thought you were 20."  I felt like I'd been hit over the head by a ton of joy.  Now, let's be honest, I don't look 20, but because of the way I move, I can make people think I'm very young.  These weeks, months, and years of continuing improvement have been fueled by by a bone deep desire to dance and never stop.

So now, it doesn't really matter what the scale says, or what size I wear.  If I choose to, I can dance down front without getting lost, or in the way, or seeming out of place.  For so long I was trying to belong based upon how I looked.  What I learned last week is that you take your place among a group of people based upon what you do.  

To guarantee that you will keep moving toward your goal and never stop you simply must have a reason behind the reason that you want to transform.  The way you look will simply never be enough, partly because, let's face it, the Western ideal of physical beauty has been moved beyond the reach of mere mortals by surgery and photoshop.  We all have to figure out what we want to be fit for.  What do you want to do with your wonderful healthy body?  Do you want to run, jump, dance, play, lift really heavy stuff, feel free and whole and graceful, travel the world and be able to walk everywhere, scale mountains, or dive down into mysterious waters?  There's nothing wrong with hanging out in the back of your Zumba class, but maybe with practice and persistence, you will find yourself dancing down in front too.

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