My First Dance Memory
I am nearly four years old, sock footed on the scruffy red shag. A simple physics lesson becomes my personal cycle of bliss. I wind up, throw my little arms to the left, anchor my barely used kid-feet in the carpet yarn, and spin to the right, letting the objects and people of the room blur into colored stripes. I become a spinning cone, a kid-nado. Gravity angles to my will as my vertical spine merges with the expanded horizon of my chest and arms. My heart pushes out through my fingertips. It is the funniest and best feeling I've ever self-generated, and I fall to the red-orange rug, cackling breathless laughter as my limbs, vision, and center of gravity reassemble themselves.
I am free of time and fear. Fused with the kick and snare and tropical bounce of the song blasting from the living room stereo. I am all wonder and spirit. I am wide eyed and free. I take the whole spectrum of love in my 3 years of existence--every tickled morning and kissed goodnight, every sweet and sour flavor, every swell of dangling legs over swing set sand, all in a kind of centrifuge that spits my heart back out like a water soaked top. All the love I've witnessed and held radiates back to my mom, dolled up for her shift at the airport, my dad, freshly cologned for his shift at the pub, my baby brother, smiling, belly down on the rug, my cousins, sent here to babysit, and my comfy little home.
This is my first 'dance' memory, fused at this point with home video footage and reminiscences. It's one of dozens of scene memories I'll be writing about in an essay chronicling my journey through competitive and professional dance.
This memory is important because it's what I'll keep coming back to as I drum up later memories: early dance education, competitions and recitals, auditions and gigs. All will be triple checked against my discovery of something brave and freeing at three years old. That kid will go on to leap and twirl, win and fail, sing and act, and kick her face. She will win scholarships and friendships, despite her flat feet. She will tap and hula, freestyle and pas de deux. She will find her best tribe and face her worst insecurities. She will sleep in pointe shoes and slay in heels.
She will probably never stop dancing.