cicatrices (25 sep 2008)

Since I don't have any original thoughts of my own I am once again inspired to write on a topic introduced by a buddy, who is presently encumbered by a dance related injury. So far, I've been pretty lucky as I haven't suffered anything terribly debilitating. The worst I get are the occasional corns from ill fitting shoes, which are easy enough to remedy although it generally takes at least a couple weeks of treatment. The only other ailment I've had which has impacted my ability to dance was a back strain incurred outside of dance which had me sidelined for a number of weeks. Also, I sometimes get shoulder problems from embrace issues, although through modification it has eased greatly.

Most other dancers I know who have been doing it a while have had their share of injury and are more than happy to impart their experience and the hard gained wisdom afterward. We tend to want to steer others away from our mistakes. Yes, injuries are bummers, but pain is a damn good teacher. Also, I like to think of it this way: if I wasn't a dancer, I wouldn't have these injuries, so the fact that I do means I am a dancer. And defining myself as a dancer feels good.

I think it's sometimes easy to take that for granted, but I can remember back before I started when I would regard dancers with awe and respect, and beyond that I would regard them as somehow separate from me, almost like a different class of person. Better, in a way, insofar that they had the wherewithal to pursue this manner of expression which was utterly foreign to me for much of my life. Not that I hadn't had exposure to dance, but growing up, social dancing was always a peripheral thing for me. Something to be admired from afar, even initiated, nurtured and sustained (as a hip hop/freestyle dj in high school). But never to be an actual participant, due primarily to the influence of one particular "friend" who in retrospect was something of a bully with a penchant for cutting down and poking fun whenever I made an effort to learn the popular social dances of the day (which was in a way ironic, since I was one of the more admired b-boys in the area when I was even younger). It was a pretty long road to go from those childhood insecurities to the point where I was confident enough to venture, alone, into the world of social dance, and the one I chose was tango. (Or, I suppose, tango chose me ;P. Sorry.)

So, at least in my case, while tango may be the source of certain kinds of injuries--injuries which, by the way, I carry with pride, like battle scars--it has also proven to be the actualization of a longtime healing process. This is not to say, of course, that tango can't bring about other kinds of difficulties. It is, after all, a dance (and culture) that encompasses all range of experience and emotion and tends to magnify them. But if one is to get ill, better it be from overindulgence in a feast rather than from starvation, that's what I think.

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