The Dancer

January 29, 2006

There is a woman I know, a dancer.

She reminded me how to live, through her dancing.

In 2002, when I took up dancing, I did it to fill time. My husband was living in another city. I was lonely, and looking for something to keep me busy.

At my first class, I felt like a dork. I was - and still am - a bad dancer. But I took the class as a personal dare, because of all the classes in the course curriculum, it was the one that most fit the phrase “Katrina would never in a million years do that”. When I nearly broke down in tears of frustration during that first hour, I repeated that fact as a little mantra until I stopped panicking. I hate being bad at anything, and I was really bad at this. By the time I finished the first class, I had let go of false pride and several inhibitions, and started having some serious fun.

If I hadn’t stuck through it, I never would have got to know this person better. I’m glad I did. She is the most inspirational person I know. She loves what she does, and she is very, very good at it.

She’s like a little virus of happiness. She infects people with her mood. She’s as charismatic as you’ll get. I get this endorphin high just being near her - a boost of energy, an infusion of “there’s no stopping me now”. She loves people. She’s genuinely interested. I’m sure she has down days, but I’ve never witnessed any. I live in a different country now, so I hardly ever get to see her. She tours with a national troupe. When they come to town, I make a point of getting tickets.

Her dance embodies beauty. Every single move is purposeful, considered. She has the finest muscle control of anybody I’ve met. There isn’t another person in the world who dances like her. Men grunt, people scream when she dances. She’s hypnotic, powerful, elemental and saucy all at the same time.

She inspires me because she’s not afraid to do what she loves. So many people are afraid. Some cop out by saying they have no talent. But it’s not just that she’s talented. It’s more that she has worked extremely hard, for many, many years, to get where she is, and it has paid off - at least from this outsider’s perspective. She is successful and unique in her field. She gets requests from all across the continent, possibly now the world, for instructional workshops.

But even through this success, she has stayed herself: warm, down-to-earth, grounded. I hadn’t seen her for two years, and when she caught sight of me the other night, she gave me the biggest bear hug, then spent two hours chatting over sushi even though she was probably exhausted from a grueling travel schedule. This for a person who took classes from her once a week for 16 weeks in 2002.

I knew all these things before, but when I met her I was at a stage in my life where I needed to be reminded:

To not be afraid to take risks and to push your boundaries.
To work hard for the things that are important to you.
To stay true to the people who care for you.
To try to bring beauty into the world through your body of work.

We so rarely tell the people who’ve had a positive influence on our lives how they’ve affected us. Thanks RB. This one’s for you.

[2012/06: This post was formerly found on Kat's now archived blog at www.ganache.ca]

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