This really happened.
After 3 amazing years with TribalTique Denver (aka now Vespertina Dance Project) under the direction of the amazing Molly McClellan (following 1 year with Tribe Nawaar and 2 years with Elizabeth Ashner) – after 7 years of gradually narrowing my focus and making sacrifices to hone a craft, be an artist, and pursue a single thing with more passion and dedication than I knew I was capable of, to become the best dancer that I could possibly be, performing locally in Denver, the front range, in Seattle, and California, spending zillions of dollars on costuming, lessons, workshops, and makeup, and spending even more zillions of hours practicing, sweating, rehearsing, sewing, breaking needles, studying, reading everything there is to read about being an artist, focus, practice, and goal setting, driving to classes, making moves lists, not having a couch because I have a dance studio in my living room instead, I reached a pivotal point of burnout that was unrecoverable from.
So I quit.
I think there’s something to be said for the 7-year itch theory. I have been spending a great deal of time reflecting on where dance fits in my life, embracing the change, but not making these decisions lightly. There are other people (troupe members) – who have counted on me – to consider. The truth is, my life has been a series of major life-changing changes, occurring at regular 1, 2, 4, or 7 year cycles. It is one of the things that my phoenix tattoo represents for me. (This is my one tattoo that I actually don’t like. But that’s a whole other blog post.)
I did not see this coming (ok, I knew I needed a break, but not this), and I did not make the decision lightly. But I quit nonetheless.
After about 2 weeks, I did finally make it to the Rhythm Sanctuary, which is a weekly ecstatic dance event here in Denver, where I nearly wept with joy in knowing that my dance was not completely “broken.” I have had more fun dancing at R.S. than ever, knowing that now it is movement that can really come from my soul – it’s not about more “practice” or discovering new moves or performing in front of others… I have also gone country dancing and swing dancing, and hope to do more swing in the future.
After being GOAL-ORIENTED for so long (this is an important part of 8 Elements training), I have no goals.
I do, however, have rules:
- Only co-ed activities
- Embrace Mediocrity.
Rule Number One is because, of course, I am single. Needless to say I did not meet any men in the last 3 years in the tribal fusion belly dance community. Also, the vast overwhelming majority of dancers in my immediate dance community were married. I can see how it is en entirely different experience if your time in the dance studio is “away from the man, bond with the girls” time, but for me, it simply meant “no time” to go out socially to meet guys.
Rule Number Two is in effect because I gave up so many hobbies to pursue dance. There are only so many days in the week, and working full-time as a data analyst, I simply did not have time to do anything else other than practice (and sew, etc.), if I was to Be The Best Dancer That I Could Be. So I made sacrifices. I have no regrets.
But now I’m free! Free to mediocre at hiking, biking, backpacking, rock climbing, blogging, photography, swing dancing, swimming, running, bar hopping, cooking, on-line dating, etc. You name it. I’m in 25 meetup groups and 2 on-line dating sites. Sometimes I go out 5 nights a week. It’s exhausting. And expensive. So I’m cutting back. And having the time of my life! It’s enormously liberating to have no commitments.
Other than to my cats. And my job. My job is crazy super busy right now and really, it is The Most Important Thing that I can be focusing on right now. Why? Because I’m single. That’s why. I only have me to take care of me, pay my bills, make my spending choices, save for my future, my retirement, my continuing education and employ-ability, my medical emergencies, make my new (used) car payment, buy my expensive cat food. I even actually like my job, most of the time. I have been slacking a bit in the last year, and am making up for it now with Extreme Focus and Dedication to my Work.
I miss my dance partners, sometimes. But the truth is, we’re really not friends outside of the dance studio, the workshops, the stage. There are a couple women that I will likely see socially, for hiking, or sushi, but it’s not the same. Dance was just one part of my life, and despite having spent a zillion hours in class together, on planes together, on stage together, we really weren’t friends. We were a troupe. It’s not the same.
I am making new friends now. Friends I don’t talk about dance with. I didn’t even know that was possible.
But did I really quit… forever?
Probably not. I am already financially committed to this: Cost Rica Belly Dance Retreat with Rachel Brice in February 2015 and even though it breaks my rule of “1. Only co-ed activities” I think I’m going to go anyway. And be TOTALLY MEDIOCRE. There is no way – even if I start shimmying in November to get up to speed – that I will be in nearly as good dance shape as I was this past spring.
The truth is, I shimmied just the other day! I did some drills at home because I really desperately need the exercise. And of course there will be the occasional belly-dance-move that finds its way to the Rhythm Sanctuary, because, well, that’s just the way I move. But I don’t see myself committing to regular belly-dance classes (notice the qualification there?) any time soon. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen again! I have a whole closet worth a zillion dollars of totally awesome tribal belly dance wear, and even though I’m planning on selling some of it, it’s premature to think I should sell all of it.
Being mediocre is not easy. I’m still a perfectionist, and really competitive with myself. See, this is how I got into this mess in the first place.