TOL: Thoughts From a Former Dancer

A few years ago, I had to suddenly quit dance after slowly destroying my knees. I loved dance with my whole being and put hours and hours and tons of time and effort to improve and practice. To say it was devastating for me to quit is a large understatement.

I sunk in to a very dark sad place for a very long time. As the years went on, I felt a little stronger and better and have come to be okay with it. Today, for Thinking Out Loud I wanted to share some random thoughts on the topic as it is a huge part of my life.

  • I’ve kept my dance shoes: I still have my shoes in my dance bag because I was unable to throw them away. I still don’t think I could throw them away. I used to put them on every once in a while when I was missing dance, but haven’t in a couple of years. 
  • I get sad during any dance performance: Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the ballet or enjoying a musical. However, it took me a few years to be able to sit through any kind of dance show. I still feel a little sad after a show because I still ache to be able to do it.
  • I can look back with happiness: What once was devastation and bitterness are now happier memories of a time where I was able to do something I loved so much. People often ask me what I’ve replaced it with; the answer is nothing. I don’t think anything could fully replace it the same way. What I can do is look back and smile and hope that my future children find something they love as much as I loved dance.
  • I still choreograph: Any dancer or former dancer will know, that you will choreograph dances while any music plays. Your feet will dance under your desk or table whether at work, at home, or on a train. No matter where I am, I can’t be still when I hear a great song!

Some days it feels like it was just yesterday that I was dancing and I feel angry, sad, and filled with emotion. Sometimes the thought of it makes me want to cry and sometimes I feel angry that I’m not doing it now as a career. Other times, I enjoy a dance performance, remember my own shows, and smile feeling full of happy memories.

We all have things in life that throw us for a loop. People we love leave us, things we love are taken away, and there are bad days filled with sadness. However, life is also filled with unbelievable joy, loving support, and days filled with laughter and smiles. I choose to lean on God and to lean on my loved ones during those sad days and revel in the warmth of the happy days as long as they last. Which route will you choose for yourself? 

How do you deal with darker days? What have you learned to work through?

Tell me in the comments below!

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15 thoughts on “TOL: Thoughts From a Former Dancer

  1. Aw I love this post. I did dance in high school and still miss it. I feel about running how you feel about dance. I still run weekly, but I have always wanted to run more 1/2 marathons. My horrible back (going on 3 years and a million doctors later) has prohibited me from doing that. While it is sad and gets me down sometimes, I try to focus on the things I CAN do instead of what I can’t. I also realize the important of allowing myself to be sad for a minute if I need to be. I think the important thing is to keeping moving on and find things that do make you happy. 🙂

    • So true! I have definitely found other things that make me happy that I would not have found had I still been dancing all of the time!

  2. Love this post Heather! I was never a dancer, but I was a gymnast so kind of similar. I miss that way of expressing myself through movement. During tough times, I remind myself it is OKAY to be sad and upset; but what is not okay is to let myself give up to those emotions and not keep going. Unfortunately, dark times are inevitable but without the downs in life we can’t have the ups and the good times!

  3. My thoughts exactly!! I still have all of my shoes and even a few of my costumes because I couldn’t throw them out. I still put on my pointe shoes every now and then. I get sad at shows too. My cousin is in dance and I love watching her recitals, competitions, and musicals, but it makes me miss it so much! It’s almost a bittersweet feeling. There is nothing that can replace it! It was such a huge passion and part of me for as long as I can remember. Now, I run, and while I love it, it’s just not the same. I still choreograph too. Sometimes I will do it as a workout or when I need to blow off some steam. That’s what I used to do when I was stressed. I’ll find a song that I like and just dance. Great post!

    • Thanks, Tara! I’m so glad you can relate to this too! Yes, I love dancing for fun and for a workout these days too. It brings back all of the happy memories and feelings back!

  4. I always feel kind of sad when I watch a play. I try to remind myself that there is always time to go back to it and that it served an incredible purpose at those points in my life. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to be in plays and musicals.
    I try to express my sadness by walking or listening to music.

  5. I love that you look back on it with joy, because remembering the amazing things God did and is doing through every part of our life is the best thing to bring joy, even despite the sadness. <3 And you can never take the dancer out of a gal or a guy; my sisters are the BEST dancers ever, and it's amazing to start tapping out a song wherever you are. The reminder that life is full of ups and downs, yet God is constant and faithful, is the greatest comfort. <3 Are your knees still bad or did it help to stop dancing?

    • You’re so right, Emily! You definitely cant take the dancer out of me! I did about 2 years of intensive physical therapy which helped a lot combined with my stopping of dancing. Today my knees are relatively strong but I have to be careful of certain motions and activities!

  6. I didn’t know you used to be a dancer. That’s awesome! I’m so amazed when I go to dance performances and see the performers’ strength and grace. It’s really a skill.
    I’m glad you’re at a place where you miss it, but you can also remember the happy memories, too?
    I’m also curious if there are any other different kind of dance options that you’d be able to handle. I just thought of it because I do lindyhop, and although that can be athletic, there are a lot of folks in the lindy community who also do stuff like blues and jitterbug that isn’t so intense.
    Good for you for keeping the dance shoes! No reason not to.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Joyce! Yes, I still enjoy some dance cardio and zumba workouts every now and then which I can handle these days. It’s always fun to get back in to it in a group workout setting!

  7. Oh Heather, how very much I know how you feel. I danced all my life. My parents even drove me 3 hours to and from the city near me twice a week so I could study at a more prestigious dance school. I went to college for it and wanted it to be my career. But I lost my passion when I started to get sick, and from then on I slowly started to dance less and less. For years I didn’t even want to try to take a class and I avoided seeing shows because they always made me way too emotional. To this day I haven’t gone back to see a full ballet. It is so hard to see something you loved so desperately in front of you and have that longing resurface. But like you, I try to remind myself that things in life change. Even passions change. It does not take away the deep love and talent I once had, and that it can always be a part of me if I choose to let it. The wonderful thing about dancing is we can do it anywhere and even if we aren’t doing it as a career, we can sure as hell burn a hole in the party dance floor! Or in the kitchen… Thanks for your vulnerability.

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