Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My head rolled off my neck in New York

When I went to New York recently, I promised myself I would take some dance classes again. I haven't danced in a really long time. For someone who was a professional dancer for 13 years, not dancing has been a source of frustration, to say the least. I've been meaning to go to a class for the last five years and just couldn't fit it in my schedule! Actually, every time I tried to go to a dance class, aliens would swoop down, take me to their home planet and beat me senseless, then drop me back home unable to remember what happened.
Really, I'm just using sarcasm as my defense mechanism for feeling vulnerable. Dim lights, cue violins: For the past five years I've been held prisoner in my own body. I went from a professional dance career to an eating disorder and a subsequent neck injury that left me deeply depressed and wondering why I felt so cheated and crippled. It didn't dawn on me that my time dancing was something to be grateful for, not something to expect I deserved unconditionally without appreciating it or like freakin' going to the doctor when I couldn't move my head because it felt like it would just roll right off my neck, across the floor, off a cliff and then I'd really be screwed. No, it took me a while to be a grown up and take care of my aching body after years of neglect. But I finally did! (Thank you Dr. Sibel and the OHSU Pain Center). And the reward was going back to New York to do some dancing.

I left the Hip Hop class options in Anna's hands, but I jumped at her suggestion to go to some guy named Jonte's class. It seemed especially cool because apparently Jonte' was a Jefferson Dancer (I myself am an alum) a looooonnng time after I graduated and has choreographed for Beyonce among other celebs. I have always loved Hip Hop and somehow knowing that I was going to be 20 years older than most if not all of the dancers in the class didn't really bother me. I was going to DANCE! Get my groove on.

The class warp speed...with moves like I've never seen on MTV, BET, SYTYCD...even in a porn movie - let alone gotten my body to do. But, holy flippin' sh*^! This Jonte' can dance. There were about 20 of us crammed into a tiny studio with no air conditioning on a 98 degree, 90% humidity day in Manhattan. You had your serious Hip Hoppers, all buck'd out with their baggy sweats, clunky sneaks and bad attitudes, your "Front Row Hoes" as I call them, just dying to be noticed and the rest of us in between. And in between I was glad to be because after all those head snaps and neck roll moves, the floor soaked with sweat and people flailing to do the choreography, I felt safe knowing that somebody would be there to catch my head when it flew off my neck. I was in PAIN. I remembered this pain. It was mind bending, brain wave scrambling, pulsating pain. And what did I do? Ignore it. Ha! Did I not learn anything after all?! It felt so good to remember what it was like to move my body, to feel like a young dancer rather than the old and crippled me I felt for so long. Then I fast forwarded to the present me, a woman with fibromyalgia, two herniated discs and arthritis in her neck... slapped myself a good one, and stood on the side doing the moves without moving my head. It was....sublime. Besides, after some ice, 26 anti-inflammatory pills, I was just fine.

If you haven't seen Jonte' dance, you are missing out. Check it out below. (He's the one in the striped sweatshirt who moves like no other human can)

If you want to watch more, I recommend the video labeled "Jonte" and "Jonte & Victor."


Lis said...

One of my sister-in-laws does belly dancing and has been forever trying to get me into it, but I am the most uncoordinated human being on the planet. She said it would help me, and I guess you have to start somewhere, so maybe one day.

Kronda said...

Hey Claire,

Been making my way through some of your blog. My sister was a JD with Jonte and I remember him well. That boy is a noodle with rhythm. Glad to see he's doing so well. Sounds like you are too, mostly. Say hey to Justin for me. Maybe I'll see you at our (gulp) 20 yr reunion?

claire said...

Hey Kronda,
Thanks for reading! Yes, he is one talented boy. I'm looking forward to the reunion, if anyone shows :)