Oh the Blues…

Wolf’s Ink PhotographyI realized sometime this morning that it’s been about two years since my first time to dance blues. That’s pretty much boggling my mind.

dance
Me dancing at a house party during a workshop weekend in Austin this past August. (Photo by John Palmer at Wolf’s Ink Photography.)

 

Two years ago, I had my last, and worst, gallbladder attack. I had been having “stomach problems” since my youngest was born the January prior, but had dismissed them as merely inconvenient. Well, one Sunday morning it wasn’t just inconvenient, it was painful, so painful. I ended up at the emergency room being told that I had a “whole mess” of gallstones and I would end up needing surgery.

 

That really did my head in. I was really quite anxious about the surgery and really just hated the whole idea of it. I tried to keep myself busy, but the fear and anxiety was just overwhelming.

Come the following Friday night and I was barely able to sit still with how anxious I was. My friend, Jeramy, was running the local blues scene and posted on Facebook that they were having a lesson and dance that night. I figured I needed the distraction and made my way on over. That was when I first experienced the awesome power of blues dance.

It had been years since I had danced and most of my dance history was choreographed dances for musicals, show choir, and church pageants. I had loved dance when I was younger, but had let go of it for other “more important” things. Learning the basics of blues dance through a very short lesson but mostly learning on the dance floor provided the perfect distraction. More than that, it provided a complete escape. I was so very clumsy and totally awkward, but for the three to five minutes of a song, it was just me, the lead, and the music.

That night I remembered how much I loved music and dance and the artistry of the two. I remembered what it was like to use your body not to accomplish some utilitarian task, but to explore and express with no given intent and yet intent in every step and flourish. I fell back in love with dance.

The following Wednesday, I had surgery and it did not go as planned. I spent several days in a hospital in Dallas away from friends and family. When I returned home I was still healing. I couldn’t lift the boys and I couldn’t sleep in my own bed next to my husband. I was supposed to walk every day, but even that was hard to do. As my body regained strength and I began to move more, my JP drain became irritated and sore. Then I had the strength to move but didn’t want to bring on more irritation and pain.

When we finally went back to Dallas and the surgeon cleared me to return to work and Mom duty, one of my first questions was “can I dance?” I went back to dance the following Friday, and every chance I’ve had since then.

I’ve always had a hard time loving and accepting my body, and surgery made that worse. I went from not liking the aesthetics of body to viewing it as “broken” and “damaged” but those feelings went away when I danced. Dance gave me motivation to love my body and treat it well when I didn’t always want to. It provided a way to acknowledge that my body could work and could do beautiful things.

When I miscarried last year, I again struggled with the idea that my body was broken and damaged. Again, dance was there to show me otherwise. In dealing with the grief and depression that came after my miscarriage, dance provided a balm for my soul, a way to escape to another world if only for four minutes at a time; and through some magical means, dance kept me grounded and solid in who I am.

In the past two years I have learned so much about the history of blues dance, the mechanics, the aesthetics, and I have so much more to learn. Blues dance has given me a hobby, a passion, a group of amazing friends, a renewed love for my body, and pretty nice looking booty if I do say so myself.

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