(Back to the song titles)
This is going to sound kind of stupid for a while, but bear with me. I hope it will make sense in the end. You know. One of those recovery metaphor things I’m so fond of. Kind of. Blah. Here goes.
As per usual, a little bit of back story is required.
I’ve always REALLY sucked at picking up choreography. Like, really really. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I focused, no matter how much I practised on the side, unless I had a night to sleep on it, I wasn’t going to remember the choreo. Didn’t matter if it was someone else’s moves or my own steps. This was just a fact of my life. It didn’t matter if I was in a somewhat normal state of eating, a somewhat restrictive state of eating, or a full-blown anorexic state of eating: no amount of food would allow me to know the choreography well enough to dance full-out at an audition.
Now, I have a pretty damned decent memory for other things. I can recall conversations from my childhood verbatim. I can remember what I wore on specific dates days, weeks, years ago. I can tell you what grade I got on my geography test when I was 12. In my nerdiest times, I can look at a playbill and tell you:
- Who in the cast I’ve seen in other shows
- What roles they played in that show, and sometimes
- What name they went by before they joined Equity. They call me the Musical Theatre Encyclopaedia. Nerdiest superpower ever.
This freakish memory, however, has never extended to choreography. Frustrating as hell, but that’s my life.
Or . . .
that WAS my life.
This weekend, I decided on the spur of the moment to teach a musical theatre class instead of a tap class. I haven’t danced a step of musical theatre choreography in about 18 months. I had 15 minutes to pick music, choreograph a dance, and be ready to teach. I started scrolling through my iPod (which is, conveniently, filled with showtunes) and began to panic: I don’t think I can do this. I can’t come up with something worth teaching in this little time, and there’s no way I’ll remember it once I do! Maybe I can just teach choreography I already know from a show I’ve done before . . .
I decided to make an effort. I put on a song I know and enjoy, and just started dancing. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. I tweaked it, and kept adding on. By the end of the 15 minutes, I had a workable dance. It wouldn’t win a Tony award or anything, but it wasn’t basic “recital” choreography either. I started teaching, waiting for the moment when I’d forget.
I taught the whole dance, and we danced it together, full out. It ended up being good enough that the studio owner filmed it for promotional use. If it had been an audition, I think I would have booked it.
I’ve been semi-noticing my memory improving in ballet these past few months, but I didn’t realize the extent of it until Saturday. I can remember choreography now.
Cool. Good for you, Kelly. But where’s the metaphor? What’s the point?
A few weeks ago, I was reading a post from the blog A Life Unmeasured. She looked at the definition of “recovery”: the regaining of something taken away, or a return to a former condition. Her take on this:
“I want to create my life, not get back what I’ve lost. I want to be more forgiving of myself, less perfectionistic, more adventurous, less cautious. In other words, I want to let go of this idea I have that I will be “recovered” when I am like I used to be. I can’t be that way anymore, unless I choose a life of relapse, which is what I’ve gotten in the past.”
I don’t want to go back to the life that I had before, either. That was the life that I starved to get away from. I’ve spent my entire life trying to destroy what was and put something better in its place. I’ve gone about it the wrong ways, but even now, trying to do it “for real” this time, I never really believed that my life would be anything different than it was before.
This may be a silly, small thing, the memory for dance, but it gives me hope that maybe things will be “better than ever” in other areas of my life, too.