The joy of life in dance

Southern Cross newsreader Jo Palmer takes a look at life in a world full of change and challenges.
Southern Cross newsreader Jo Palmer takes a look at life in a world full of change and challenges.

Four bouquets of flowers were waiting at the front door of a local dance studio, and with them was a letter.

While the colour and fragrance of the buds were wonderful, it was the words on the paper that would leave a lasting impact on those it was addressed to and those lucky enough to read it.

When you think of dancing your mind can take you to the glamorous outfits, the huge stages, not to mention the abs on those performers.

This letter had been written by a dancer, but there was no mention of the glitz or glamour, no mention of the fitness gained or the awards or medals that might be achieved.

The words leaping off these pages were “self harm”, “survival “, “just trying to make it through”.

If you were to meet the author of this letter you would find a fabulous, happy, warm and beautiful woman. Someone who gives to others and makes you feel good about yourself, and yet, in her own words, she is an ‘actress’ playing the part of a person who has it all together.

But every week she goes to the dance studio and it’s the marker for her that she survived the past seven days.

The reason she didn’t self harm her legs that week was because she wanted to wear her latin skirt exposing her skin.

The reason she didn’t hurt her arms was because her teacher needed to hold her arms to glide her around the floor.

The reason she kept going was to ensure she would again get on the dance floor.

She has found her people, where she is accepted, but also a place where, more importantly, she accepts herself.

She belongs to a community where no one is perfect, and no one is expected to be, where mistakes are part of learning and growing rather than an embarrassment.

Being connected to this “community” is what drags her through each week. And sometimes that week is counted in hours rather than days. But if she can just hang on, then her reward comes the moment she steps through the door.

The beauty of dance is not always found in a ballerina leaping through the air. Nor in a jazz routine that’s perfectly in time. Nor a ballroom couple in complete unity.

It’s beauty can run so much deeper, in the underlying joy it can bring. Joy that can actually save a life.

The flowers were a thoughtful gift from this lady to her dance teachers, but it is the words on the card that will stay with them long after the petals have faded and fallen.

They are not just teaching her how to move, how to dance… but how to keep on living.

Their pride in her as she walks through that door each week, outweighs anything they have ever achieved before.