I have always loved dance. My boyfriend and I agree that if neither of us had cerebral palsy and had pursued different careers we would have met anyway. “I’m sure I would have put a tenner in your g-string.” he said.
I’ve been dancing since I was walking at 6 months according to my dad. “You never did crawl. It was kinda creepy.” Dad explained.
As a child, I loved break-dancing, ( a.k.a breaking shit while dancing) tried to moonwalk and memorized all of the choreography to Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul’s music videos.
I wanted to be a dancer so bad that it concerned my parents. I always knew deep down that I couldn’t be a dancer. I knew I couldn’t dance exactly the way a teacher would instruct me to so I was flexible about my goals. If I couldn’t be a dancer, I would be a choreographer. I would tell other people how to dance. (I still enjoy telling people what to do) Being a choreographer seemed doable to me but not to my working-class parents. They sat me down one Saturday and for the next several hours tried to talk me out of my plans to be a choreographer. They told me I was never going to make it that nobody would hire me and that I would end up homeless. They told me that since I was disabled that I needed to accept that there were things I was never going to be able to do. Even if I were to become a dancer, I would just get more injured and become even more disabled and where would that leave me? (Years ago, I went to watch a Russian Ballet performance in Tokyo. Waiting for the show to start, I heard two little old Japanese ladies sitting behind me speculate that I was an injured dancer from the company. I did not correct them. I rather enjoyed leaning into my limp later at intermission.)
My parents didn’t leave me alone until I was as fearful of my future as they were.
I never did become a choreographer. I was too afraid of failure. It’s probably why I feel so at home in the UK. I just can’t get enough of the “No Can Do” attitude.
I still love to dance and do every chance I get. I have recently enrolled in a class and I will let you know how that goes. (Oh, that poor instructor with OCD, I pity him. More on that later…)
Growing up, I was never that interested in ballet. The moves seemed too rigid, too predictable and super bendy in a way that didn’t look healthy or joyous. I sometimes fell like I’m looking at pictures of people with spears through their cheeks in National Geographic, uncomfortable. As, I’ve gotten older, I’ve appreciated the ballet dancer lifestyle from a distance. I appreciate the precision and dedication. I also like utilitarian but feminine style of ballerinas. I have been told I dress like a retired ballet instructor who keeps a flask of brandy in her pocket for breakfast.
I recently watched a ballet documentary that introduced me to the mesmerizing Misty Copeland.
She is an incredibly talented and accomplished game-changing African-American dancer that looks different from the Balanchine body type that has been considered ideal for too long. Misty Copeland looks like a superhero. With her muscularity and curves, you could easily mistake her for Marvel Comics’ Storm. She has become my gym inspiration. When a trainer asked me what my goals were I said, “I want to look like Misty Copeland. Is that too much to ask?” He said, “Yes. Yes, it is. Shall we try aiming for something that wouldn’t involve the use of magic?”
I know I am never going to look like her unless Misty Copeland is in a horrible accident but it is just so nice to see someone that doesn’t fit the traditional mould break through, beat the odds and dominate the stage. It makes me feel less afraid of the future.
I’m Spring Day (real name, hippie parents)
Moving back to the United States after having lived in Japan and traveling the world for 16 years has been a bit of a head fuck, especially since I now work in the U.K. My blog “The United States of Shock!” is where I give my brilliant and bitter two cents, pence, yen and euro on my experience with culture shock and current events. If you have any questions you would like to have answered in a snit, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org