on making movement (& your life) your own.
We all live in shadows.
Of other people,
of expectations from others
– as well as ourselves.
As we get older these shadows become less prominent, because we begin to understand ourselves, and allow ourselves to shine just a little bit brighter.
I think understanding ourselves is one of those hard journeys that will pretty much take our entire lifetime. Really, I don’t think there is a person out there who can say “Yep, I have myself all figured out, there’s no need for soul searching here.” Some may be far closer than others, but I really don’t think anyone has it (or themselves) all figured out every single moment. And if someone claims that they do, I have a natural tendancy to believe that they simply don’t want to dig deep. Cause there’s probably more under that surface.
And I understand that tendency – I mean, it’s scary in there.
Who knows what one may find?? Deep hidden fears? Expectations? Doubts?
We usually start this journey as a teenager. Trying to learn independence while still technically under our parent’s wing, we start to express ourselves in various ways. We rebel. We challenge. We start fighting for things because we need to learn how to stand on our own two feet. This is vital to the growth of a person because this is when we start to hear our own voice.
Of course, this time in a parent’s life is hell. But they probably put their own parents through the same thing once upon a time. ;)
This voice that we begin to hear is usually extremely faint when we’re a teenager. After growing up and being told what to do, it’s disconcerting to hear another voice deep down within. Especially if that voice is saying something very different than what others are saying.
When we did this session, Elizabeth was towards the end of her senior year in high school. She was on the cusp of a new chapter of her life.
Like anyone at that time in their lives, we look to the future as well as where we are now. Who we were is soon to be gone, as this is the point we gain independence and the power to start following our own paths. The key in following the right path, is following your own path.
Even as adults who have been out of high school for a long time, following our own paths is still a hard thing to do. Going down a well worn path by others is a far easier thing. We know what to expect, we have already seen the results. But the problem with following a path someone else has already done or dictated for you is that you own none of it.
Elizabeth is certainly someone who has grown up with dance all her life. The thing about dance — especially at a young age — is that it’s not always about self-expression. It’s about technique. It’s about looking good. It’s about doing what’s right and proper. Each move you make? It’s not necessarily your own. It’s being critiqued by your instructors, compared by your peers, and constantly being scrutinized – especially by you. The way to get out of this cycle? Is to take charge of your movement. And to take charge is to fuse yourself into every single move. Own it. Own what you love. Own what comes naturally to you. Because then only do you have power.
For Elizabeth, that seemed to be when we combined dance along with singing. Elizabeth expressed to me that she loves to sing, and has a voice identical to Taylor Swift’s (she really does). But she seemed a bit shy about it, like she wasn’t quite ready to announce that to people. After all, most people knew her as a dancer (or at least, that is how I knew of her), so to go in another direction may have felt a bit rebellious and wrong.
But at the same time, like I was saying, to own our movement, to own our lives, we must own up to the things we truly love, and not the things that other people have predetermined for us. Or — even what we have predetermined for ourselves because we think that’s what we should be doing.
I know not everyone feels this way, but I am a person who fully believes in living a life that aligns with our own heart — even if it completely goes against convention, even if others may disagree with it. As long as we are not harming others, as long as we fully understand the choices we are making, we should not be afraid to live the life that we truly want for ourselves. To me, any other life would be a life half-lived.
When we walked away from the session, Elizabeth made the comment that dance felt more like hers again. Dance should always be hers. Her life should always be hers. No one else should dictate it, ever. When you’re a teenager, or even in college, it may be harder to call your own shots because you are still under your parents rule. But that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t carve out as much of themselves in each part of their lives as possible. It could start with something as simple as owning up to what you love in life — be it dance, be it singing or be it anything else.
We weren’t put on their earth to be robots, to follow others paths, or even follow paths that others have laid out for us. Especially if those paths aren’t aligned with things that we love. Because if we don’t love these things, then why are we doing them?
This is your life —- make your own path — & own it.
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past dancers: kristine domingo | shannon leith | kyle filley | mathew paul chounlamontry | melissa sanchez | tiffany kadani | emily pepper