The following is an essay submitted by Michelle Goldson, a student at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Morristown, NJ. Thanks for taking the time to write, Michelle. Keep dancing!
What dancing means to me
I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I am completely obsessed with ballroom dancing. Whenever I hear a song, whether it’s in the car, at the gym or in the dance studio, I listen closely to the beat, to see if I can decipher the type of dance it might be. Is it a cha cha, a hustle, or maybe a foxtrot? Nope, it’s a Samba, definitely a Samba.
Sometimes, when I arrive early to pick up my kids from their morning programs, I practice my steps while I wait. I’m pretty sure the faculty and other parents who observe this must think I either have mental problems or a severe twitch, but I don’t care, because I love to dance! I power clean my kitchen while practicing my cha cha. Sweep, sweep, cha, cha, cha. Each night when I close my eyes I dream of under arm turns, open breaks, and walking flicks and kicks.
Dancing saved me, it really did. It was only less than a year ago that I walked around exhausted and depressed. I was a different person then. Day in and day out at home with my two and three year olds really took its toll. I felt like crawling into bed and staying there. I was physically and emotionally spent and had nothing left to give. This went on for quite a while and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t shake the cycle of monotony and despair. Laundry, play dates, doctor appointments and tantrums went like clockwork and as my head hit the pillow each night I knew it would all start over again in the morning.
Then one day, my husband suggested we take dance lessons. I remembered taking dance lessons for our wedding and that I really enjoyed them, so I took him up on his offer. After some research, we felt that the Fred Astaire in Morristown was best suited for us due to its close proximity and the fact that it offered an intimate and nurturing setting.
From the very first lesson I felt a change come over me. I realized that while I was dancing, my sorrows, worries, fears, and insecurities faded away, and on top of that, my husband and I were reconnecting again.
Each week, I would come to studio eager to work on dances, like the rumba, cha cha, and foxtrot. One week, while waiting for my lesson to begin, I watched a young student as she practiced for an upcoming competition. She was wearing her yellow competition dress and looked stunning. As soon as she and her instructor went into their routine I was in awe. She looked so confident and graceful, and I remember thinking that one-day, with hard work, maybe I could get there. I told her that I really admired her for competing and that she looked absolutely magnificent on the dance floor. Not long after, I heard she won first place and I was overjoyed.
As the months went by, my moves were getting better. I was coming to the studio three or four times a week and practicing at home after the kids were in bed, instead of crawling into my own bed, like I used to. Life was becoming pleasurable again and there was something comforting about being “mom” by day and “dancing queen” by night.
I began going to the socials that the dance studio offered each week. They felt awkward at first, since I didn’t have many moves in my arsenal, but as time went by and my dancing got stronger, my confidence increased.
I was also meeting so many new people and having such wonderful and unique experiences, that I decided to keep a journal to not only record my experiences, but to write down the dance steps, because the instructors were starting to expect more of me now and the moves were definitely getting harder. I was having a ball (get it?).
Now, did dancing completely stop me from being overwhelmed, depressed and frustrated? Of course not! There were and are still times when my instructors need to tell me to stay positive. There are even times I want to run to the bathroom and cry, because I can’t get a step or routine down. The difference now is that I feel like I have something that I’m working toward, something of my own. Dancing is the escape that is waiting for me when I’ve had a tough day.
Just recently, I put on a performance in front of my class and invited some of my family members. Performing is not something that comes naturally to me. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I was nervous and admittedly made a few mistakes, but I felt great afterwards. Everyone was proud of me and most importantly, I was proud of me. Perhaps this is the beginning of something new. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll compete and come in first place, like that girl in the yellow dress.