This is a question I’ve heard too many times recently. And I’m only just past 50 so I find it surprising. But here it is…
“What’s is like to be an “OLDER” dancer”?
My first response is shock. Do they mean me? ME? an “older” dancer?
And then pride, oh, yes, ME! I am on OLDER dancer.
There are dancers who have raised the bar high in the category. I suggest you go and see ‘Older and Reckless” Claudia Moore’s amazing dance series.
I am thrilled to be included in the ‘OLDER” category.
The questioner then senses I am happy about it and seems very puzzled.
The questioner goes on to ask something like…
“Well, how does it feel to lose your movement ability?”
I want to bare my teeth and growl at the person because I certainly do not feel I have lost anything. There is an insidious and irritating idea about older dancers that we are so sad we can’t do the splitz any more, that we despair that we can’t jump like we did or that we miss rolling up and down from the ground. And then I want to shake my fist at them because they are partly correct and suddenly I hate that I don’t jump around so much anymore, mostly because I don’t really want to, but still its true that I don’t and I remember bouncing up and down all day long and that was fun. And while I know, that’s not who I am anymore, I hate that they are a little bit right about that. But, FYI I can still do the splitz and my peers and I can rocket up from the floor like no one’s business if we want.
It is the assumption of loss and decay that frustrates me. I have to tell you, I think that getting older is getting better. My body is still strong and capable and with more thoughtfulness, articulation, focus and range of expression that I could never have had as a young dancer. So what if I need reading glasses? I know more about what it is important and what is just a waste of energy.
I know how to avoid an injury, how to take care of my body, how to align myself, how to respect and love myself. I have learned so much about how to move, I actually feel even better than I did in my 20’s.
Here’s my point- We are like trees. We keep growing. I believe if we can stay open and alive to the world we become ever more expansive and capable.
And maybe 50 years from now, you and I will meet on the dance floor and will be proud to call ourselves EVEN-OLDER dancers.