Writings

My life as a dancer - The End


We've come to the end of My life as a dancer series A significant part of who I am summarized in a week, a little hommage to that time and to the friends I had then, some of whom I never really expressed my gratitude and appreciation to. 
So...
My life as a dancer - The End
I left New York for good in -99. Before that I had been back and forth for a few years, not being able to fully leave the city, I stayed for a few months in Sweden, then spent some time NY, then back to Sweden again. Took these tentative steps to slowly readjust and get used to Swedish life again, since I suspected I couldn't hold on to the demanding lifestyle of the Big Apple in the long run. My confidence as a dancer had grown considerably and I managed to freelance in Stockholm, working with different choreographers in smaller projects. Eventually the feeling of stress of being neither here nor there got too much, I didn't feel at 'home' in either place. I was also a bit broken from my those intense years in NY, but wasn't really aware of how stressed and broken I was, until I lost my hair. It happened literally from one day to the other. I was working on, what I didn't know at the time would be my last performance, with Guido and Sanza Nemo, when one evening in the shower I saw a big clump of hair blocking the drain. A month later I was almost completely bald and it finally dawned upon me that something had to change, I had to change. I knew that it probably was a bigger picture transformation that was needed, but the prospect of truly finding out which of my many scars was causing this dramatic change in health, felt daunting scary and too much to handle. But I took the decision to at least settle down, to permanently leave NY and find a calmer life in Sweden. I was so fortunate that Skånes Dansteater, a company located in the south of Sweden, was looking for dancers at the time. I was determined to get the job, the prospect of settling in a small place with a steady job was perfect and even though I may not have been the best dancer in that audition, I was the one who wanted it most and subsequently I was one of the lucky chosen ones. I spent almost three years in the company and it was a lovely experience.
Working in Sweden again was a dream. To, as a dancer, be treated with the same rights like any other worker with a proper monthly salary felt after NY almost surreal, to have access to physical therapy and free massage treatments, sports doctors for all those injuries and being relieved of worrying about all the many practical details of life that previously had taken up so much space in my mind was such a huge load off of my shoulders. Only in Sweden. Then of course there was the privilege to work exclusively with what I loved so much. Being a dancer is like getting the Carte Blanche to be a kid all your life. You can arrive to work wearing your most comfortable, worn out training clothes. You get to throw yourself on the floor and roll around like a toddler with your work mates and express on stage what is in your heart and mind. But the best part of those years were, as it has always been for me, the people. I met and worked with beautiful artists from around the globe, and had so much fun doing so. Since almost everyone in the company was away from their family and friends, us dancers developed these close relationships that I had already grown accustomed to, and loved during my years in NY. Together with the administrative, decorative and technical crew of the company we were like a small work family and I felt completely safe and protected.

Then I met Igor, and living together in that very small provinical town with me having a job that consumed almost all my time, and him itching for freedom after leaving his engineering education, wasn't really working out. He wanted adventure and I was ready for a change. I had gotten a pretty substantial grant, and with it we bought a van with the plan of merging our two paths, the artistic and the adventurous, by doing street theatre. We decided to spend our summers on the road and our winters with me taking projects and him doing whatever job was available. We ended up spending the long winter months in Copenhagen which was the residence and working base of Tim Feldmann, a choreographer I had met and clicked with during my time in Skånes and who I was excited to keep working with. Tim was besides being a big inspiration in the field of dance, also the one who introduced me to the practice of Yoga. The one who got me started through Ashtanga, and recommended me to go to India that time when I met Igor, so also indirectly responsible for that blessed event.
Tim is one of my heros. He was and probably still is, if he would ever chose to move outside his mat again, a gorgeous dancer, a true feast for both eyes and soul. His intricate knowledge of the body and it's possibilities, together with his warm encouraging approach to his dancers and students made him a great choreographer to work for, and an amazing teacher both of dance and yoga and he is still a role model when I approach and work with my body. Thanks Tim. For all.

In the summers we did the street theatre adventure, lived like nomads in our little Ford Transit while performing the festivals in Spain for cash. Not entirely as romantic as it may sound but an experience that was unforgettable despite the for me sometimes too rough times we went through.
And then in 2005 I quit dancing professionally. There were a number of reasons why, but I think the one that overshadowed all the others was that I started to become more aware of how bruised and battered I was from life. How fucked up I was. Since my introduction to yoga, I had practiced regularly at home and the awareness that I needed to do something about my deeper held issues was becoming more and more acute. Also, our marriage was not exactly thriving in the circumstances we had created, we had this great love, but couldn't figure out a sustainable way to merge our lives. Igor was tired of doing menial jobs in cold Copenhagen and I felt too old and tired to settle for a life in the streets.
The only real thing we had always had in common besides our great love for eacother, was the search for happiness and freedom, so we decided to leave everything and go to India to really dive in to Yoga. And just like that, after 16 years of dedicating my life to dance and the performing arts, I stopped. All divorces are painful, but to step away from a partner I truly loved, was excruciatingly so. The stage, studio and fellow dancers had for so long been my life and I never thought I was going to leave it behind and when I did it left a great void. It felt so difficult that I needed to make a complete break with all things dance. For years I stayed away from it. Didn't watch dance, limited all physical movements to the yoga mat and whenever anyone brought the topic up I turned a deaf ear. My whole identity, that dancer-artist persona I had so patiently cultivated was ripped out from underneath my feet and if I thought I had been lost before, that was nothing compared to how I felt now, stripped bare of my identity I felt once again back at square one, insecure and scared and incredibly lost.
Thank God yoga works. It took me some years to heal the wounds from my separation from my life as a dancer, and now I see that it was probably the best, most corageous decision I have ever taken. It had been a hiding place, an incredibly beautiful one, but if I had stayed in that world I would have never gotten to know and heal myself. I would have never gotten here. And now, as I teach dance to young hopeful dance students and enjoy it occasionally on stage, I feel so much freedom with it. Have a much healthier attitude to the joy and creativity it gives. My love for dance has not diminished one bit, it still gives me shivers to move my body freely to the beat of the music, it is still a supreme experience, but now it's a love affair that is without frames, limitless, with no need to please anyone or anything else than my own heart. And my heart when I'm dancing soars with freedom and joy and now since I ask nothing in return, unconditional Love.

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