Life is an opportunity to go on a journey and discover what one’s purpose is. Life provides many challenges and trials such as illness, adversity and loss, but there is much joy in the world as well. I believe that movement and dance are vehicles that help us discover and uncover our true selves.
Being a student has been a true privilege. After spending years working multiple jobs struggling just to make ends meet, dedicating my life to learning and studying has felt like a luxury. My freshman year was a struggle. I stepped outside of myself and stretched my mind. I used to think that technology, math, and science were my weaknesses because I did not have much practice and experience. That year I worked full time and studied math and computer programming. Two of the biggest challenges that I encountered were first, sitting still and secondly, staying focused while sitting still.
Fall quarter of my sophomore year was even more frustrating and discouraging. I took computer science foundations and felt so far out of my league. The greatest challenge was not in the skills itself, but in feeling like I did not belong there. I had an incessant fear of being too far behind so much that my anxiety got the best of me. I would sit in class and sweat and my stress made it impossible for me to learn. I spent the entire quarter in a state of anxiety which drove me to illness. On the weekends I enrolled in Afro-Brazilian Dance. I knew that it would be a good opportunity for me to move my body and dance.
I believe that taking Janelle’s Afro-Brazilian dance class was the best decision that I made that quarter. Her class gave me a reason to look forward to going to school. I think it was the only thing that kept me excited about school that quarter. I could feel my body becoming more coordinated and my mind and heart grew in self-acceptance. On the second to last class of that quarter I felt a definite desire to begin studying more dance and movement. Movement helped me to feel joyful, alive, and free.
Continuing the computer science program was an option, but I began looking into other possibilities for Winter Quarter. I felt a spark when I came across a program called: “Dancing Molecules Dancing Bodies” which covered anatomy & physiology, biology, chemistry, and dance. I was relieved when I read that no experience was necessary. I took a leap of faith and registered for that program along with another quarter of Afro-Brazilian Dance.
Taking a second quarter of Afro-Brazilian Dance has given me an opportunity to cultivate the basic skills that I started learning. I have become even more aware of myself and more in tune with my body. In the fall quarter I felt more pain in my feet and hips. This time around I was able to notice even more subtle nuances like sensing places in my spine that I could not sense before. We had a movement lesson that required us to put a lot of pressure on our toes. I know that I would have struggled with this in the last quarter, but this time around I did not struggle with the exercise.
A theme that I noticed throughout this quarter is that I felt more comfortable and confident with the movements and the rhythm, but I felt less comfortable with my body. I currently weigh more than I ever have. My dad has been ill and I have used food to cope. Additionally, I have been more focused academically, but my workouts were close to non-existent. It was often painful for me to look in the mirror and be around people who appeared to be thinner and healthier. At the same time, I am thankful for the 2 dance workshops that we had every week and Afro-Brazilian dance on Saturday. These classes have infused exercise into my life and I know that they helped me maintain some activity.
A few weeks ago I realized how much I enjoy studying anatomy, dance, and movement. So much that I am considering switching my major to physical therapy or some area of study that involves movement and physical activity. I believe that dance has been pivotal in helping me discover my true self and I hope to continue dancing for the rest of my life.