Meghan M. is an editor and manages clinical publications and practice guidelines for a medical association. Her favorite dance styles are jazz, musical theater, and lyrical.
Throughout middle and high school, I danced competitively with my studio’s competition teams. My parents were supportive, taking me to and from class, and never missed a performance. During competition season, we spent all the beautiful weekends inside dark auditoriums. Nationals during summer hijacked family vacations more than once. Dance wasn’t my only activity, but I was dedicated to it the most. During high school I even opted to stay on the JV tennis team all four years so I could continue to make it to dance class, missing practice and matches for company rehearsal.
Although I had danced for almost my entire life, I did not plan to make it into a career. My interests were in publishing and editing, and I went to college knowing I made the right choice for myself professionally. But it was a very tricky transition to not spend hours in a dance studio—what does one do with all that free time? I also felt lost without the structure and rigidity of scheduled classes. I had evenings and weekends free for the first time in years but there was almost a sense of guilt that I was “missing” class.
I discovered a student-run dance club late into my sophomore year which had the kinds of classes and performance opportunities I was looking for. A group of students organized the classes (jazz, lyrical, hip hop, and belly dancing), ran rehearsals, and choreographed dances. Classes and rehearsals were held weekly and we performed twice a year. It was just enough to keep me dancing and feeling like my old self while still allowing ample time for studying, working, and enjoying college.
When I moved out of state after graduation, one of the first things I did was look into local dance studios. Since dance has always been my sport, working out in a gym or going for a run was not my idea of exercise. Fortunately, through a Groupon I discovered a new studio that had opened nearby, close enough to walk to. They offered adult jazz, hip hop, and contemporary and it’s where I made some of my first friends in my new city. We soon formed an adult company that performed a few times a year.
We even performed flash mobs around the Chicago area for marriage proposals, weddings, and other events. I couldn’t believe my luck that I was getting to take dance classes and have performing opportunities post-college.
A few years later, I moved to a different part of the city and had to find a new studio. Conveniently again, there was a local studio that offered adult classes and even a performing adult ensemble. I danced for a bit in the ensemble and took classes in contemporary, modern, and jazz. The jazz class is especially great—always a mood booster and the best way to get a workout after a day sitting at a computer. The women I dance with are inspiring, too. Some had been dancers when they were younger and have found a place for dance in their lives. Some are brand new to any type of dancing and are giving it a try for the first time. Most of us work full time jobs, are in grad school, or have children with busy schedules, but we all find solace in that hour long class once a week and take pride in what we can still do.
For any of you out there who grew up dancing but haven’t been to class for a while and if you’ve been thinking about getting dance back into your life, do it! If you don’t know a plié from a jeté but want to try something new, take a chance and sign up for a dance class! You don’t have to be a professional ballerina to express yourself creatively and you don’t have to take hours of class multiple nights a week.
Many studios offer punch cards that make it easy to fit dance into your schedule. Take the pressure off yourself—you’re not at an audition—and just have fun with it. Do what works for you, make time for yourself, and bring dance into your life.