Wednesday, July 24, 2019

My Life As A Dancer

My Life As A Dancer 

The other day on Netflix’s, I watched the documentary, “Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan.” This beautiful yet sad documentary highlights the career of a woman who was the star of the N.Y.C. Ballet for 30 years. The documentary shows Wendy’s last and final year at the company before, during, and after her hip surgery. The clips of her farewell performance made me tear up as well as made me pause to think. I had never really pondered what happens to my life after I am no longer able to dance. Anyone in this industry knows that the body can only dance at its absolute best for a certain number of years...life keeps moving, and we get older.

I always knew my life was about dance. I never had any questions about how I was going to spend my future. When I was a child, I was very hyperactive. I had a creative mind. It was challenging for me to sit still in school for 8 hours straight. My parents put me in a variety of different sports trying to spark my interest and release some of my stored energy. None of them quite fit...from soccer to swimming to volleyball and on.

Then my parents put me in my first dance class. I still remember my first recital and am including an epic picture below haha. The recital was called “Live Like the Animals.” The first time I danced on stage, I was a leopard. I was 9 years old. My mom still tells me the story. After the show, I got in the car with a handful of flowers and told my mom and grandmother at the mere age of just 9 that this was what I was going to do with the rest of my life. My mom at the time just smiled and giggled because, of course, I was only 9...I knew, though. Since the moment I was waiting in the wings, to the second I hit the stage floor, I knew it was settled. The rest, of course, is history. The following year my parents signed me up for more classes. The year after that, I made a small children’s ballet company.
Recital Picture as a Leopard When I Was 9 Years Old
I danced every day in high school. I never had a single question about what I would be going to college for. My parents supported me, endlessly. I cannot even imagine how much money my parents spent on my classes, private lessons, costumes, pointe shoes and etc. My mom traveled across the country with me. I even got to perform at Disneyland! She was always there. Always. I am forever grateful.

In college, I essentially triple majored. I graduated from the University of Iowa in May of 2015 with a B.F.A. in Dance with an emphasis in Choreography, a Minor in Psychology, and a Performing Arts Entrepreneurial Certificate. I worked with several renowned choreographers and further premiered my own original works. I was also selected to be a part of the University of Iowa’s prestigious dance company, Dancers in Company, which toured throughout the Midwest performing repertory. I also worked at a bar to make ends meet. Over summers, I trained at Milwaukee Ballet on scholarship. I think the number of times I told friends the words, “I can’t I have dance or I can’t I have rehearsals” is absolutely endless. I have no regrets in regards to this.
Milwaukee Ballet Partnering Class Photo of a Ballerina Being Lifted Into the Air by Her Partner

Since graduating, I have continued to embrace a strong passion for sharing art with the Chicago Community. I have continued to perform and choreograph my own works. I have been a company member with three Chicago dance companies and am currently training in the aerial arts. I spent last summer training at the Boston Conservatory, and this summer, I will be continuing to dive into this type of work even more. I absolutely love taking my dance technique airborne! And of course, I have found a new outlet to express my love and passion for ballet and dance over the last few years...modeling. 

I think about all the young people in the world who have no idea what they want to do with their lives. For me, there was never ever that question. I have spent most of my life dancing. My passion for this art form runs so deep. Dance is who I am. Dance is an integrated part of everything about me. Dance has given me the ability to express my core self and has honestly, at times, saved my life when things have gotten complicated. It has its hardships and its ups and downs. Ballet is one of the most challenging art forms in the world. It is tough on the body. I feel like we understand, know, and embrace a higher level of pain tolerance than most professional football players haha.

I think about my students, as well. I try to give my heart and soul to them whenever I teach or choreograph a piece on them. I started teaching immediately after I graduated from college. For four years now going on five, I have watched my students grow and thrive. I watch them, and I see a younger version of myself. I see their drive and passion. I stand in the wings with them and feel what they are feeling. They have their entire lives ahead of them. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and experience. I am proud of them. 
University of Iowa Dance Performance by Deanna Carter. A Dancer in Motion Jumping in the Air
In ways, I am scared, though. I am 26 now and am hoping my body lasts another 10-15 years before I start to decline. I do not know what life after dance looks like...I have spent my entire life doing this, and it’s a scary thought...when you love something so much what happens when you are no longer able to do it? 

I hope God continues to bless both myself and my students with good health. I hope I have many fruitful years ahead of me. I am happy to be living a life doing what I love. I wish this for everyone.


4 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting! I really enjoyed reading this!

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  2. Great read!!! You are a an amazing person and I'm sure your students are so lucky to have you. Keep it up!! Love watching your journey. Thanks for sharing something so personal.

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  3. Thank you so much Danny. And thank you for subscribing. Means a lot to me.

    ReplyDelete

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