dance

3 Things I Can't Wait to Do When My Toe Heals

Ah, injury. The marker of a dancer's life more common than they show.

 Punched in the throat by a metal bar

Punched in the throat by a metal bar

A month ago I had my first aerial fall - off my beloved cube, hitting my throat on a metal bar on the way down. I had whiplash and some concussive symptoms.

2 days later, I went in for my Level 2 Pole Teacher Training, because I'M SHE-HULK.

I taught from the ground, and my master trainer said I was made to teach and that any studio would be lucky to have me. It was heart-filling to hear that.

 Snapchat: making injuries glamorous

Snapchat: making injuries glamorous

Just when I recovered enough to get back on aerial, I went to a nail salon to get an ingrown toenail removed. Using rudimentary tools and no anesthetic, they butchered my nail bed in a procedure that made me feel like I was in a third-world country and my passport had been stolen. 

It was infected within the hour.

After a week of antibiotics, my doctor properly removed part of the toenail and the horrifyingly large ingrown section. Though I'm limping again, the nightmare is finally over.

Here are the 3 things I'm most looking forward to doing when the gaping wound on my toe closes:

  1. Hip-hop! I finally went back to a Beyonce-video style class involving lots of shade and requiring knee pads before my toenail's dignity was taken away.
  2. Getting into that gorgeous poolIt's summer. We're having a heat wave. I should have been LIVING in that pool, instead of staring resentfully at it from the concrete.
  3. Blues/Fusion Dancing. I can't remember the last time I had a full-body hug. #churchpeopleproblems

Dancer Tales: Too Old and Fat

 The lyra in Taiwan is super chubby

The lyra in Taiwan is super chubby

The last time I went pro as a dancer was 10 years ago. It was effortlessly easy.

Now everything hurts. But I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life. And I can do things now I couldn't then.

Sometimes I look at the greats - at Ian Eastwood, and think, "I'm too old." Or at Quick Crew and think, "I'm too fat. I can't get my body to look like that without starving." 

Some of my videos make me cringe and wonder why black isn't slimming on ME and why my arms are moving like there's lead in them.

But then I see Laure Courtellemont and her Ragga Jam team and I remind myself there are dances for people with my body type and that it's not my curves: I'm just fucking out of shape LOLOL. 

I remind myself that my LA teacher Norma is older than me and my friend Diane at 60 is a more graceful dancer than I am right now. And I'm inspired to work harder and feed better so I won't move so Hobbit-y anymore.

And I tell myself to quit it with the "old" thing. Because nothing wastes more time than thinking about bullshit.

So, here's me at my grind. 

(You don't need to comment that I'm skinny. I'm in Thigh Gap Nation owning my #fattybitch status - in fact it made me a better Lyra dancer than the pole teachers even because I've got some padding on me.)

How I Became A Dancer

When I first got to Hollywood, I wanted to be Christina Aguilera's back-up dancer.

I threw myself into ballet and hip-hop classes, even this thing called Pilates until I developed bursitis and had no idea how to rehab it.  So I put my dream away.

Then The Universe Happened

In 2005, FOX debuted a reality show called So You Think You Can Dance.

I saw a Paso Doble for the first time, with a real Russian ballroom dancer. I finally realized the genius that is Wade Robson, who at that time was little more than a bleach-haired white kid from Orange County who purportedly danced like a black guy. I cried after every piece, in awe that this kind of dance was finally on network TV.

Something in me stirred.  I wanted to dance again, bad.

Getting the Call

The Universe has a way of responding to requests.

I received a recommendation to a trainer who knew exactly how to rehab my bursitis (as well as a car accident injury I had further accumulated in Hollywood.) I went to the gym every day.  In months I was stronger than I had ever been.

And that summer, as I dreamed in front of the TV, I got the call.

My agency phoned me with an audition for an untitled film directed by Julie Taymor (Frida, Broadway's The Lion King) featuring songs by the Beatles.

For a dancing role.

"But these are professional dancers!"

"You're a professional dancer," the agent replied.

After two sets of three-hour auditions and an amazing phone call later, I was indeed, a professional dancer.

That movie, you may have guessed, turned out to be Across the Universe, starring Evan Rachel Wood.