But by the time I went to college, I was realistic enough to know that as obsessive as I was about dance, it could never be a career – it just wasn’t practical, not with my body type at least! While I never felt judged by my fellow dancers, I was used to being turned away from roles simply because my upper body was not the type that easily fit into a corset and tutu. Which, as heartbreaking as that sometimes was, it wasn’t completely unfair.
So I left college and moved to Boston for law school. It was the practical and responsible thing to do, and I was going to be practical and responsible adult! I stopped dancing when I moved for school because law school was serious business, and there was no time for such frivolity! When I did that, I had no idea that dance was far too much of a part of me to ever be a “frivolity”, and I started missing it so much that I felt like a part of ME was missing. In a very serious way, I started to lose a part of myself.
By the time I realized this I felt that I was too far gone – dancers don’t take breaks! Especially not ones that last years! I gained weight, lost technique and skills, and the more time that went by, the more anxiety I had about the idea of stepping back into a dance studio. No, it just wasn’t possible.
But one day I saw a flyer posted on a friend of a friend’s Facebook for an OnStage performance. (I can happily say that person is now my friend, thank you Jillian!) I looked at the website, but to be honest, I was chicken. I hadn’t auditioned for anything in years! Who was I kidding, I was too out of shape to join a dance company! So I decided that maybe I should just start with a dance CLASS. I worked up the nerve to go to a ballet class, somewhere that I’d normally feel right at home, but after years of being away from home, I suddenly felt like the outsider. I felt self-conscious and worried, knowing that I was no longer the dancer I once was.
While in that class I met a fellow dancer that happened to be a member of OnStage, and she encouraged me to go to Season 3 auditions. I was still nervous, convinced that the merely the IDEA of me in a dance company after all of these years would be met with uproarious laughter! But Kaitlyn assured me that would not be the case.
I thought about it. I sent in my audition application with a note to the director that I was out of practice and hadn’t danced in years, and received and email back saying that it didn’t matter, I was still welcome! I took a few more classes before the big day, and nervously went to auditions. I was full of anxiety, completely self conscious and more nervous than I’d ever been for any audition. Was I too old? Too out of practice? Too out of shape? All of the above?
The girls were warm and welcoming, and much to my surprise, no one laughed at the idea of me in a dance studio! Instead, during the jazz auditions something strange and wonderful started to happen – I began to feel more like myself. No, I had not gained back all the technique I had lost through years of being out of practice, but I DID start to feel that thing inside again, that indescribable spark that all dancers know in some form or another – the thing that, above all else, makes you a dancer.
Recently I performed in OnStage’s Season 4 performance, my second season with the company. It’s been about 8 months or so since that audition, and I’m starting to feel more like myself. Every time I’ve gone to a rehearsal I’ve felt like a small part of me has been put back. I’ve also found a dance company that isn’t just concerned with dance and the end performance, but is concerned about its dancers. I’ve found friends that I can safely say have become some of my closest and best friends. I’ve found a support system, one that doesn’t judge you or make you feel bad for the technique you may have lost, but instead encourages you to do better. I’ve found choreographers and fellow dancers that work together to ensure everyone looks good, staying late or in between rehearsals to work with each other. I’ve found a company where there are a lot more dancers with the same insecurities that I’ve been dealing with, and so this has become a place of support and encouragement.
In short, I’ve found a dance family. I’ve found my home again. And most importantly, I’ve found a part of me that I once thought was lost. Thank you OnStage Dancers!
Go behind the scenes with our dancers and choreographers and get an insider's look into OnStage Dance Company.