A week ago, I took my first ballet class in roughly seven months. That’s the longest break I’ve taken from ballet with the exception of my Achilles injury and that time I don’t remember when I stopped ballet for a year when I was six. But otherwise, I’ve been continually dancing for the past 16 years and it’s been a formative aspect of my life.

Yet this break was neither a conscious decision nor an enforced hiatus. But graduating from college, participating in a summer internship, and moving to a new city to start my post-grad life causes a few things to slip through the cracks. As I passed my months not dancing, I didn’t miss it as I had expected, but it was on my mind frequently. Being busy and experiencing many transitions kept restlessness at bay.

In some layer of my thoughts and reflections on dance was the gut feeling that I had to go back. I couldn’t not dance. In what way, what style, and to what end were and are still a mystery. It boils down to (I had this epiphany as I was presented with an answer) one question: Why must I dance? It’s not why do I dance, but must. Why is it imperative to me? I was given one answer in my first class in seven months. Not THE answer, but a pretty darn good one for the present moment. So good that I sat on the Red Line home writing my immediate reaction to it. I’m not much of a journal-er, but I had to write this down before it evaporated in my memory.

After our first pirouette exercise in the center my teacher commented that the combination was good, but it lacked texture. Texture? I hadn’t heard that in a dance context before. She said we must dance with texture and color otherwise the dance is dead. We must fill in the empty spaces and the in between. The music is not a ticking clock or a metronome, but something to be interpreted with a purpose, a cause, or an emotion. This is accomplished through how the movement is done, not merely what movement is done. She said she could not tell us how to do it – that would be her imprinting herself upon us. The texture and color must be our own. We each have our own shade of color.

Now this or versions of this I had heard before, but after seven months and from a new mouth this manifesto on dance rang anew. I was filled with emotion as I listened and I knew that this is why I must dance. This is why I can’t let it go.

So, I don’t know where or what I’m dancing towards. I accept that I’m past the point of being a professional dancer (although part of me wants to abandon everything and train my butt off), and I have an equal passion for theater. Fortunately, dance and theater naturally intersect and I’m finding my own way to cross-breed them. Choreography becomes increasingly appealing to me. Whether I am creating movement or executing it, I’m exhilarated to know that it is in pursuit of a necessary expression of the soul and of the being. There is a lot I could possibly say through my body, but I won’t know what it is until I’m doing it and, more importantly, how I’m doing it. No matter what, I must dance to give texture and color to my life, my body, my ideas and to share it with others.

Looking to dance in Chicago? Use our guide to find a studio!

About Claire:

Claire's Corner ProfileClaire is a life-long dance addict! She has trained in classical ballet for 16 years as well as danced en pointe for 5. She has performed in The Nutcracker 8 times as well as other classics. Claire also enjoys choreographing and has choreographed the musicals, Spring Awakening and The Cradle Will Rock. Claire graduated from Vassar College as a drama major. At CDS, you can find Claire fitting dancers for pointe shoes and writing away! Learn more about Claire at her website.