Conquering My Fear

Many of you may not know this, but for most of my life I was first and for most a dancer. I danced an average of eight hours a week in high school – ranging in everything from pointe to tap to modern and everything in between. Truth be told, dancing was not only an artistic outlet for me but also an escape from the social torture I experienced in high school.

My freshman year in high school I was asked to double as both a cast member and co-choreographer/dance captain for my school’s production of “Godspell.” I was hooked, and found choreography to be a new artistic expression of dance. Furthermore, as a singer, I had a natural understanding of musical emotion and felt the choreography pour out of me. Throughout high school I choreographed musicals at community theaters and even student taught at my dance school.

When I went to Westminster, two major changes happened in my dance world. The program at Westminster was new, and I easily tested out of all the dance classes – I took a few beginner classes to fill elective spots and keep me active but I stopped progressing or being challenged. As a dancer I stalled, and I didn’t push myself to dance elsewhere. I didn’t feel I had the money or time.

Then, my junior year at Westminster I had an accident. I slipped and fell head first down an entire flight of stairs and into the wall in the house I lived at in Princeton. Considering the blow, there was minimal damage. However, I somehow lost my muscle memory and for a while my short term memory as was gone too. The muscle memory is still an issue, and very much effected my ability to pick up choreography, learning new piano music was near impossible. I had to relearn piano, and struggled to pass my final jury. As for dance, I avoided it like the plague. I didn’t know how to handle the situation. Suddenly the thing that had been so natural to me was like a foreign language.

I somehow managed to still choreograph and play the role of dance captain at a couple theatres across the country, but I had lost all heart and confidence as a dancer. I bombed a couple major dance callbacks in NYC over the years and instead of facing the music, I avoided dancing all together.

Then, something happened. Three weeks ago I was contacted to audition for a new feature film called “Black Swan” as a ballet dancer. The movie stars Natalie Portman and Winona Ryder, and most of the film takes place at a ballet company. Anyway, something in me snapped. I realized that I couldn’t run from myself anymore or be afraid of struggling to dance. I agreed to audition, and canceled film work to spend time at Steps in dance classes – the first real classes since 2002. I was nervous, scared, and almost talked myself out of going. Then I realized that the only person I could disappoint was myself. Only I knew what I had been capable of before my accident versus where I was now. I realized I needed to walk into the class with no expectation of myself other then to work and focus, and not over analyze myself.

By my third class that week, I actually felt confident. Of course I was way below my ability in high school, but that’s okay. I went to the audition (there is nothing scarier then 300 prima ballerinas!) and made it through. I didn’t get a part, but in all honesty I am perfectly okay with that. The process was such a turning point for me. I realized that I can be as good a dancer as I am willing to be, and that I need to work at it. The pity party has ended (finally!), and I am going to try to prioritize taking at know how much work I can turn down for classes during the week.

I am slowly conquering my fear, a fear that has held me back from doing something I love, and most likely some amazing job opportunities. So here’s to taking baby steps, sweating it out, and stretching!

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~ by Elizabeth on December 12, 2009.

2 Responses to “Conquering My Fear”

  1. Great story Liz…. I didn’t know all this. You know, that I know, that continued success will come for you. Great talent, beauty, and such a wonderful personality goes a long way…. and you have it all 🙂 Keep on Truckin’!

  2. Hey my dear,

    Woaw, it looks like you went through a taugh situtation. Congratulation that you pass over your fears. (hum… not sure about my english…)

    I wish you good luck for your future dance projects and all your others aim 😉

    You are really pretty on your pictures.

    Hugs from Switzerland
    Fabienne

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