Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dancing is good for the soul!

This past weekend I had was able to participate in some very beautiful experiences that I don't know if I can put into words, but I'm going to try.

I don't know if these woman know how much I admire and respect them or that I even consider them my friends. I feel like anyone that I dance with becomes my friend even if I don't stay in touch with them. There is a love and a respect and a bond that is created in my heart after countless hours are spent together doing what we both love so much - dancing. I seriously love these women. I love their ambition. Their inspiration. Their courage to do wonderful things. I love their caring hearts and I admire their beautiful talent as dancers.

A few of these women that I admire so much have created a wonderful organization called Artist, Interrupted. They put it so simply on their website, "An 'artist, interrupted' is a woman who has placed her art on hold from five minutes to fifty years, in order to support family needs, career changes, relocation, or just life in general…because sometimes, life just happens."  Even though our art is "on hold" they have created an opportunity to share and be a part of art, by hosting or organizing a variety of events.

Last weekend there was a conference and a performance in Salt Lake City. I had debated whether or not I should participate in the performance. I wanted to, but wasn't very confident that I could choreograph a dance worth watching. With a little encouragement, I decided last minute to do it.

It was stressful! I kept putting off working on my choreography until the day of the show! Crazy, I know. I've never felt like I could choreograph very well and once I come up with something I can never remember what I had done. I just wasn't excited about it so it never became a priority to work on in the weeks before the show. I was committed to doing it so I had to come up with something! Well, with lots of prayer, and a few hours of dedicated focus, and a borrowed prop from a neighbor I was able to create a dance!

It was nothing profound. I was sure, because I knew who many of the other participating artists were, that the other works were going to just be lovely, have artistic depth, and performed with such skill. I tried to remember it's not about comparing (but you don't want to be the dud of the show!) and was relieved and grateful that I at least had created a minute solo to dance. We were each assigned a letter. Mine was 'L.' Here's my program note:
L is for Love
The things we love is what brings us joy. Whether it's family, blue skies, or a simple lollipop—there is always something to smile about!
My simple, joyful dance, I guess, had a little more depth in my heart. Because for me, 'L' is for Luke. My joy is knowing that I will get to be with him again one day! And it turns out my performance wasn't a total flop. With no one else around, a husband of one of the dancers said, "I really liked your dance. I hate modern dance, but I liked yours." Ha ha! I guess sometimes it's good to not have too much artistic depth!

Love my supportive husband!! 
Love this girl! Old roommate and dear friend, Melissa. She danced so beautifully!
There was a particularly beautiful piece that was rich and filled real artistic beauty. It touched my heart and I could feel my emotions rising in me and almost surfacing as tears. The final piece of the show for the letter 'Z' was choreographed by my friend, Jessie* who I knew had recently miscarried. It was titled "The End is Another Beginning."   Words cannot relate the profound things that you feel about that statement when you see them put into movement -that's why sometimes dance is simply the best medium to communicate a message. Images of the movement are ingrained in my mind and it's moments like those that I wish you could capture, and bottle up, and feel, and see whenever you'd like. But like time, live movement is fleeting, and can only be captured as a memory.

My longing to capture that 2 minute experience of seeing something that spoke to my heart is the same longing that I had to capture and retain every moment that I had with Luke. I wanted to remember everything about those few hours that I had with him. But it's fleeting. Certain images are ingrained in my mind and will be forever, but the details begin to become fuzzy and it's just not the same as being in the moment. Yet, there's nothing I can do to bring it back. My time to hold him in my arms ended. But it is a new beginning. A beginning of a life of looking forward to the day when I can be with him again. A beginning of creating a different life than I thought I would have. Each end truly is another beginning.

Jessie, thank you for your heartfelt movement that touched my heart. Your artistic ability has and continues to amaze me. Ashley, thank you for dancing that movement with such integrity. I will always admire your talent. 

The morning after the performance I was able to participate in a dance class taught by an incredible teacher**. Many of us had been her students when she taught at BYU and I don't think there isn't a person that doesn't love and admire her! It was wonderful to be able to take a dance class and be so self indulgent. Let me explain. For years and years I have danced to try to be the best in class (though that wasn't ever achieved), to please the teacher so I could get a good grade, or to show to the teacher that I was capable and a good candidate for the next company or performance I'd be auditioning for. But this time, I was dancing for me. It was wonderful to be surrounded by talented women that were all there just because we love to dance and to move. It wasn't a competition to see who could still get their leg the highest after having three kids or to see who could learn the movement the fastest or any other preposterous thing. We just wanted to dance.

It was emotional for me. It was emotional to be given such a wonderful opportunity by my friends to be able to come and participate in such an event. It was emotional to be given such a gift from Robin, our teacher, to give us the opportunity to dance and to learn. It was emotional to put my body in positions that I had been in during labor (child's pose and cobra). It was emotional to think back and remember that the last dance class I had taken was when I was pregnant with Luke.  Tears wet my face at the end of class as I thought about my son and the new child inside of me. There are no words to describe it, but it was good to be taken back to something that I love so much which used to be a part of my every day life. It was good to be taken back to the memory of birthing Luke. It was good to be taken back to the memory of dancing with him nearly a year ago. It was good to be surrounded with women that I love and admire and have touched my life.

Thank you, Elizabeth***, Keely, Karen, Robin, Kristen, and anyone else who made last weekend possible. I didn't know how much I needed it and needed to be a part of it and needed to interact with all these friends that I love so much. Thank you for your vision and all of your hard work to make it happen - what a generous gift you created for each of us. 


*Jessie is also the founder and artistic director of Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company. They have an upcoming class, performance, and auditions. 

**This incredible teacher, Robin, also has an awesome website called Thank Your Body - a journey to real health. I'd recommend checking it out!

***Elizabeth has created an awesome project called Nap Time Dancers. It was started as a creative outlet for women who are focusing their energy, effort, and time on their families and don’t have many other opportunities to be dancing and choreographing; however, anyone interested in the project is welcome to submit works and participate.

Is it any wonder I admire these woman so much?!


  1. Oh Shelley, you are wonderful! Thank YOU for coming to the class. I can't tell you how much I loved seeing you there and dancing with you again. (Hopefully it's not the last time).

    I have come to this blog a number of times. I can tell you that many tears have been shed as I have mourned with you from a distance and been in awe of your perspective, light, and example. You truly are a leader among women. Thank you for being such a radiant person inside and out.

    (And you're a pretty fantastic dancer to boot!)

  2. I love this! I love that you were able to choreograph, perform, and take class! Dance is so healing - even if you don't know/realize there is healing to be done.
    I would love to see your L is for love/Luke/lollipops dance someday!

    1. They recorded it and supposedly we get a DVD. Or I can give you a live rendition when we stop by Chicago in a few weeks!

  3. Shelley, you are such a doll, thanks for the pick me up-your post and your compliments really made me feel better today :-)