Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dreaming of Dancing

I dream a lot, and I think a lot about dreams—my dreams, other people's dreams, what a dream does to a person. Not the kinds of dreams that fill your head while you sleep, but the active sort of dreaming. When you want something so badly that the decisions you make in everyday life point you towards that dream—that's the sort of dream that fascinates me.

Of course, there are the silly dreams, too. I'm an only child, and I think that's made me exceptionally imaginative. I was a quiet kid, and I hated playing outside, so when I got tired of Barbies or playing against myself in Monopoly, I read. I read like crazy as a kid, and I read fast. And when I finished a book (usually about an hour after I began), I'd stretch out on my bed and stare up at the ceiling and put myself in the life of the main character. I could stay like that for an hour, just laying on my bed and dreaming about being in someone else's life.

Sometimes, I didn't even need a book. From the comfort of my own room, I could transform from an awkward, uncoordinated kid into an Olympic champion on floor exercise, or a world-class pairs skater, being tossed effortlessly into split triple twists by a strong (and attractive) partner. My most vivid daydreams were all about expression, movement, music—dance.

I took dance lessons when I was very young, and then I quit dance for a few years to take gymnastics classes. After three years of trying (and failing) to master a back walkover, I left gymnastics and returned to dance. For six years, until I finished high school, I took classes in ballet, tap, and jazz. I was in the highest class at my studio, and I was decent. I was actually pretty good in tap, but I never had the flexibility or spring in my jumps to stand out in ballet and jazz. I was also constantly intimidated by the other girls in my classes. I may have referred to them as the "spandex queens," and my best performances were usually left at home while practicing, when I didn't have to worry about what the other girls thought of me.

It's summer now, which means that my favourite competitive reality show is back on. Yes, I'm a So You Think You Can Dance junkie. This season hasn't blown me away yet, save for a few performances, but it still has the same effect on me. When I watch the cast of talented dancers try different styles and work with some of the most well-known choreographers in the business, I can only think of how much I wish I could do that. I wish I had more rhythm, was less awkward, could leap higher and stretch further. Most of all, I wish I could afford to take some classes somewhere. If I ever get a real job, that's going to be on my priority list. Until then, let me just tell you that I can dance a mean tango in my head. You'll have to trust me on that.

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