The Life-Cycle of a Dancer

I have been…

…the student
…the teacher
…the choreographer

I have been…

…one of the little girls
…one of the big girls
…in the company
…in the corps
…in the the front
…in the back
…the star
…the understudy

I have worn pink and pink, black and pink, tutus, unitards, garbage bag pants, t-shirts with the neck cut out, wraparound skirts and booty shorts. I have performed in pink fishnet tights on the beach wearing a flamingo beak mask, and I’ve performed in black fishnet tights in the lobby of a dance studio wearing lingerie and electrical tape. I have worn tiaras and rabbit ears and flower wreaths and a 10-inch tulle cone attached to a headband.

I’ve played a rabbit and a fairy queen and a snow queen and a wind-up doll and a jilted lover and a dead girl and the mother and the daughter and a member of a traveling freak show circus.

I’ve performed in a neighbor’s living room and for a packed house at Dance Chicago. I’ve performed with a broken wrist, a foot injected with novacaine, a migraine, bronchitis, tendonitis, hungover. Not all at the same time, for the record. I’ve performed to Tchaikovsky and Ani DiFranco and Frank Sinatra and somebody’s brother’s improvised drum solo and silence.

I’ve been in a Nutcracker where dancers wore roller skates and carried surfboards and an entirely different Nutcracker where the rats wore zoot suits and acted like 1930s mafia dudes. Seriously, people, it’s the wheel. Don’t try to reinvent it.

I’ve seen this guy perform three times:

He signed my first pair of pointe shoes.

I still think he’s beautiful.

I’ve answered the phone and manned the front desk of the studio. I’ve sewn costumes and pointe shoes. I’ve been the best in the class and the worst in the class. I’ve skipped class to go to the beach and skipped the beach to go to rehearsal. I’ve been the auditioner and the auditionee. I’ve been the guest artist and the girl who looks up to the guest artist hoping someday to be a guest artist (not knowing, of course, that the job pays approximately $.75/hour). I’ve taken class accompanied by a record player, a tape player, a CD player, a pianist and a bongo player. I’ve rehearsed in basements and living rooms and boxing gyms and cafeterias.

I’ve taught four-year-olds and retirees and surly, surly teenagers. I’ve taught in a church basement, an old yellow house and a studio on the edge of a cornfield. One time I taught a tap class despite the fact that I have never taken a tap class.

I have been, seen, done and lived all of these things.

But up until today I have never been…

…the mom.



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8 Responses to The Life-Cycle of a Dancer

  1. Courtney June 25, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Awwww…the end made me well up. I MUST be a momma.

    • Bryan Powers June 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

      I welled up, and I am most certainly not a momma. :)

  2. Stephanie Iles June 25, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    AW…I danced for 9 years…I loved it…I have boys though, so I guess I’ll have to wait and maybe be the grandma someday.

    Beautiful post.

  3. tracy June 27, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    Beautifully written. I danced for 7 years and hope one day a future daughter will dance too! Did it make you want to get back out there?

  4. Tammy Seddon June 28, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    That is beautiful! I have tears! I am a friend of Joanell’s. I am so happy she shared this link with me and the occasional updates of her grandchildren! They are adorable! This is so beautiful! Tammy


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