Published: May 01, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: May 01, 2012 05:42 PM
I am a mover and a shaker. I mean literally. A few months ago, I challenged myself to try something new and ventured into the world of dance.
I was not exposed to dance as a child. I never owned a tutu or performed in a recital. Even as an adult, Im shy about getting on the dance floor.
Nowadays, though, I am shaking my bootie and enjoying each liberating step along the way to transformation.
There is a wise saying, Its not who you are that holds you back, its who you think you are. Each of us, at some point in their lives, has struggled with self-doubt or fear of failure. Consciously or subconsciously, we set boundaries around our comfort zone.
Dance is far outside my zone, but it feels good to throw caution to the wind and go for it.
My self-limiting convictions were left over from childhood. Two sore spots are body weight and physical coordination. Throughout my grade-school years, I was a fat kid. The family doctor put me on a diet, and the school nurse monitored my food.
You are not fat, youre pleasingly plump, my father used to say when the other kids taunted me. I dont know what I dreaded most, the Tub of Lard chants by the neighborhood bully, or my Daddys sarcastic consolation.
American women are getting negative body image messages from mass media. We get negative vibes from peers, friends, family and other women never mind the fact that women are supposed to have curves!
Does our obsession with size detract from the measurements that really count?
I want to keep energy levels high, bad cholesterol low and blood pressure normal. I want to improve endurance and stay healthy.
My old routine included an elliptical exercise machine and taking long brisk walks. Both are solo activities. That changed when I started going to Bellan Performance Centre (BPC).
I had previously attended Bellan Contemporary Dance Theatre productions. I have witnessed the beauty and discipline of the company and its performers. I assumed BPC was an exclusive studio for pros.
At first, I was skeptical; thinking there could not possibly be a match between my capabilities and the performance-based training options at BPC. Founder and Artistic Director Anjanee Bell Jean-Denis is a choreographer, performer and mentor. Her shape and profile reveal a chiseled body. Her energy is boundless, and her range of motion rivals a circus acrobat!
Anjanee convinced me that I dont need be young, skinny or professionally trained to enjoy the benefits and freeing energy of movement.
I smiled a lot during my first session and felt a great sense of accomplishment. I contemplated, have I ever smiled this much while working up a sweat? The next day muscles I did not know I had were throbbing. I could barely use my aching arms.
Anjanee brings out the best in her movers. Before long, my fitness routine had improved my balance, coordination and strength. My muscles still have morning-after soreness on occasion, but nothing like the induction phase. At Bellan, no two training sessions are the same, which keeps it fresh and interesting. We move to hip-hop, world music and pop tunes.
Our group is majority female but otherwise diverse. We share a sense of camaraderie and playfulness. Anjanee strives to uncouple the notion that the only goal of fitness is to lose weight. We focus on how our bodies function and how we feel. Other women in my group agree that as a leader, Anjanee inspires us to want to come back for more.
The daughter of Mayor Bill Bell, Anjanee is passionate about life and passionate about Durham. She has created a company that draws on the talent of our own community. Her original creative work-in-progress, Birth of Existence Project will be performed by Bellan Contemporary Dance Theatre on Tuesday, May 10, at Reynolds Theatre, Duke University campus.
I will be in the audience. And although I have witnessed a hundred dance concerts by dozens of companies from all over the globe, this time I will feel a new sense of pride.