Somewhere behind the veil of the dream, the curtain that separates the people and the performer, stands the dancer. He or she will graciously ready the body, move it through space as they prepare to move the audience through emotion. The entirety of their existence has been based on emotion, happiness and sadness, the ecstasy and pain of life, that is stored up in their bodies, ready to be released as to show the world what it is to be a human. The great painters had their oils or acrylics, but the dancer has only their bodies and emotions, and as harsh as the world can be on the appearance of the dancer, they will move a body, shaped by the movement of the soul in human form, to show the critic that no matter what, love and pain have no boundaries.
To be part of the dance, to be lucky enough to be trusted behind the scenes and into the dream, is one of the greatest honors one can have. You see things differently, you become part of a community that focuses on the impractical because that is what drives us forward. Man didn’t travel to the moon because it was practical, so why do we label dancers impractical because they want to travel to the heavens and take us with them?
Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society said “ And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for”, and he could not have been more right. The dancer is the embodiment of all the above mentioned emotions, and then some. A dancer’s job is to hold up the mirror to society, and let man look back at it, to stare at the emotion that is performed in front of them and realize that they too have loved, they too have suffered, and sometimes, they have suffered at the hands of love.
Drive by any field or gym, and you will see parents encouraging their child to work hard, pursue the dream of athletics, and one day, you too can be a multi million dollar athlete. All the while, the dancer is told that one day they will need to choose a real profession, to get a real job that will pay the real bills that will soon follow. But the dancer resists. They continue down the yellow brick road on the way to the Emerald City of their dreams, because somewhere over that rainbow, where bluebirds fly, they didn’t stop to ask the question “why can’t I”, because they were too busy flying already.
No is a word the dancer knows all too well. They have been told no, so many times, to so many things, it would seem easy for one to only give up, to stop the movement of the arms and legs, to stop the fountain of emotion, to quit the singing of the soul. But the heart doesn’t stop on command, nor shall the dancer, for both are made to keep one alive, and they will do so until the day one does actually stop, and the other will soon follow.
Dance is in all of us. We do it in the privacy of our homes, in the secrecy of solitude. We fear that maybe the world will see the real us, will understand that we are beings of want and need, and heaven forbid, that we mortals should ever be accused of wanting to be more than what our earthly beings are limited to. But the dancer doesn’t hold back, they see the atmosphere that separates the earth from the stars, but that does not stop them from trying to fly. The dancer gives us purpose and permission, the dancer will always lean to the side of impracticality, because we already live in such a world where we are to be slave to so many things, the dancer helps us remember that we do ultimately have control of us, and our hearts, and to know that is to have power, and a dancer is nothing if not powerful.
We dance in the streets to celebrate, brides dance with their daddies to remember their first love. We dance. And in doing so we remember why we are alive and we forget that we are mortal. Humans are amazing creatures, and yet, we seem to try and destroy ourselves any chance we get. Our greatest enemy is not nature nor animal, our greatest foe is us. We love to love, but sometimes we love to destroy the love in others more, somehow thinking if we destroy your happiness, I shall get mine back. Humans are sad creatures, until we are reminded of our happiness by listening to our favorite song that takes us to our precious memories. And at that moment, something magical happens, something healing. The body starts to sway like the leaves in the breeze, remembering that movement is life, that dancing has always been part of us from the beginning, that we were born to express ourselves, and dancing is the vehicle to take us there.
But the dancer, oh the lovely and beautiful dancer, is our reminder, our little muse that gives us hope again, that all can be right if we just start believing again, and start loving once more. The dancer is a surgeon, cutting out the cancers of hate in the world, formed over time by man’s inability to remember what love is and what love can be and do. The dancer will bring us back to life again after we thought we have lost it, but will hold our hands during our final bow, showing us the beauty of the other side, once our performance is over. The darkness of the falling curtain is not scary if you are exhausted from the performance. The dancer is happy as the curtain removes the light from the stage, as their chest’s heave heavy from the work, for they left it all on the stage, they gave it all to the audience. The dancer does not fear the darkness, nor should you.
If guardian angels do exist in human form, then they are dancers. No one else can do the deeds they do, endure the suffering they suffer for the sake of saving another person’s soul. The dancer lives in poverty so the rich man can sit back and enjoy the fruits of the dancer’s labor. The dancer will risk living a life of physical pain just to give the audience the chance to experience life, to see what love looks like if it were a person, and to allow the heartless to see emotion again.
The life of a dancer is not easy, nor do they want one that is. Dancers need emotion to deliver emotional performances, and an easy life will void the dancer of that. Dancers know the gig, they accept the problems, and yet they dance on, one rehearsal at a time, one audition after another, until they find their place at the barre, until they find their stage in front of an audience. The dancer lives on so that you can live on, so do yourself a favor, and go to a performance, and see what your guardian angel looks like, as they breathe life back into your soul, and bring you one step closer to the heavens.