Sunday, May 27, 2012

Shake It Out

This song has been stuck in my head since Friday evening.

The Peanut and I survived dance recital week -- the endless driving back and forth to practices, dress rehearsals, costume changes, and painful bobby pins in the bun head because momma just isn't good at hair...all of it.

In the midst of the fray as a dance mom, you lose focus on how potent the impact of the actual performances can be.  But they can be profoundly stirring, and this year's recital was particularly so.

The Peanut has improved dramatically this year.  Her teacher, a wonderful man named Michael Garber, has been fantastic for her in terms of technique and confidence in her own abilities and comfort in her own skin.  It has been a joy to see, as our baby girl is morphing into a more confident little lady before our eyes.  Michael has helped her to see how her own light shines, and she has reveled in that this year.

Where I see the most change, though, is in the girls in the senior level of the dance company.  Their performances were breathtaking, and not just because I knew them a couple of years ago when their performance skills were a little more raw.  Their technique has improved quite a bit, but it is their joy in dancing and their confidence in themselves where things truly open up on the stage this year.

Their performance to Florence and the Machine's "Shake It Out" to open the show the first night made me cry.  I sat there, in my seat, sobbing like a baby.

The piece was choreographed to fully play with their individual gifts as dancers, too, so that you saw their individual and collective joy as they each got a solo bit in and among the ensemble portions, each of them supporting each other so that they all reached higher still.  Knowing each girl as we've watched them grow through the years, it was so wonderfully telling to see how far they have come as dancers in confidence and strength and ability this year.

They were so vibrant and their movements were so alive, it made me long for the days when my limbs had the same ability to lithely leap around the stage.

Those days are long past at this point, but their joy in dancing from the moment you saw them begin onstage was contagious.  You could feel the entire audience sit up straighter and push forward to the edges of their seats as they wanted to get up and dance with them, too.  You could see it in the faces of everyone sitting there.

Including mine, tear tracks down my cheeks and all.

Just thinking about it makes me want to cry all over again.  Art has a much broader impact on us than we can know at first pass.  It always has with me, as my brain works over the larger context and meaning of a painting or a dance or a piece of music over time.  This recital was so well put together that I am still chewing on various pieces and movements two days later.  None more than the senior company's performance to Shake It Out.

I find myself waking up humming this song now.

It is as though my subconscious is nudging me forward toward the things that bring me more joy.  Sometimes, the universe sends you and unmistakable signal, and this may have been the one that I got, sitting in a darkened theater watching these lovely teenage girls, so vibrant with life and possibilities ahead of them, on that stage:

Shake it out, and then dance through your life with all your heart, with everything you have to give, with everything that you are and everything you want to be.

That seems like good advice for everyone, even those of us who wake up feeling like we are rolling inevitably to the downhill slope toward geezerdom.  It is worth a reminder that you get out of this life what you put into it, what you reach for, what your heart is allowed to dream.

Lately what I've been doing has felt a little too much like just going through the motions.  Somewhere along the way, I lost myself in my labels:  mother, wife, homemaker, whatever my job of the moment happens to be...that inner core of me gets shoved to the bottom of the stack as I strive to become the best of "______" that I can be.  I feel like I've been shuffling through the day to day as though I'm half asleep and not really noticing any of the details beyond the things that need doing instantly and too little like I'm living with intention and joy.

I want that vibrant and fully alive version of me back, and I'm going to set out to find her.

I'm definitely adding a little more dancing back into my life.   Thank you, Michael.

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