How Dancing Saved My Soul and Changed My Life Forever

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, “There’s only one way to save your soul, and that is through Jesus.” While I agree with you to some extent (I’ve been a saved Christian since I was 6), what I am talking about is not the same thing. I’m not talking about “saved my soul from hell fire and damnation.” I’m talking about “saved my soul from obscurity and loneliness.”

When I moved to Austin in 2008 for a teaching position, I knew nobody. I was taking a chance, stepping out in faith if you will, and trusting that I was where I was supposed to be. I found a church and made friends there, and was soon following a routine, which is always good with my Autistic son. Despite my new church friends, though, I was still lonely and spent many Saturday nights crying alone in my living room when the children were gone with their father.

It wasn’t until a year later, when I happened upon Austin Blues Party, that my life really began to change. I say “happened upon” Austin Blues Party(ABP) because it was a complete accident. I was attending a regular Thursday night swing dance that turned out to be the pre-party for ABP. After hearing everyone talk about it all night, I finally decided to buy a weekend pass for Austin Blues Party.

I had the time of my life!! I met people from all over the country and discovered a hidden passion within me. From then on, I was hooked. Almost the moment Austin Blues Party ended, I was at the hosting dance studio signing up for lessons. I had researched the studio and knew they offered Blues classes as well a performance for charity twice a year. So, I walked in the studio ready to go. My poor instructor had no idea what he was in for because when he asked what I was hoping to get out of dance – what my goal was – I told him, “I wan to perform in the show” that was five months away. That was a fairly lofty goal for someone who had never taken lessons before that day.

My instructor, Tommy, smiled at me and implied that I needed to slow down and consider all my options first before just jumping in. Poor Tommy. He soon learned that I was completely dedicated to my new passion, knew exactly what I wanted, and wasn’t going to be deterred. Before long, I was booking lessons weeks in advance, buying costumes, practicing choreography, and ready to perform.

The big Showcase was a complete success. There is just something unexplainable about waiting backstage and in the dressing room with other people who share your passion. We swapped stories about how we found the studio, what it was like preparing, how long we had been dancing, what we were afraid would happen, and what we hoped would happen.

Those women became very good friends to me. Tommy and the other instructors I’ve had over the years learned that there wasn’t much I was afraid to try. I learned several styles of dance and had many performances after that first one, sometimes doing as many as 5 or 6 routines in a show. It was difficult, and quick changes we often challenging, but it was worth every minute, every bruise and sore muscle. These were my people, the people who understood my soul.

I was quite sad when in 2012 I had to leave Austin in order to provide better for my children. However, I tried everything  to get back Austin as often as I could. Austin, and my dancer friends there, had become my home. I found myself when I began dancing. Who knew there was a beautiful, confident woman inside me waiting to be released. Dance taught me discipline and creativity, patience and communication. It taught me to be more forgiving and open and how if you’re too rigid you are more likely to get hurt.

I said in a earlier post that I would have to let go of a few things in my life in order to move forward. While dancing is one of those things, I’m not letting go in the way that most people think. I will still go to Austin to dance and see my friends, although not as often as I have been going. What I am letting go of is trying to get back to Austin on a permanent basis, for now.

I could never completely let go of the amazing people and friends I found through dance. Other than family, my dancers are the only ones who have really been there for me. How could I let go of anything or anyone who has so completely shaped who I am and how I see the world?

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