I can’t remember being so excited about my feet, and they definitely started sending happy messages to me, too.
I discovered something horrible that I’ve been doing that’s been hurting my feet.
All this trying to dance, all the effort I was making of pushing the feet down so I could rise up onto my toes, using my feet more, having them be more active, has been having the opposite effect.
They’ve been hurting and the other night I was up at 5:30 am, lying awake in the dark with a nightmare about not being able to dance.
The more I try to use them, the faster they begin to hurt.
Especially the left foot, the one that was injured late last year.
They hurt to the point of nightmares and taping my feet. Hunting for little pads to put in my shoes and sparing them when I’m not dancing. Thinking miserable thoughts about how I try hard to use them more so I can dance better but maybe I won’t be able to dance at all…
But today, in an epiphany in a lesson, my body started to dance more yet my feet worked less.
A few steps of Viennese Waltz; that’s all it took to be told that I was working too hard.
Literally, I was using my feet when I didn’t have to, pushing them ballistically into the floor.
No wonder they’ve had injuries.
I was just trying to dance better. I was just trying to move bigger, go higher up on my toes.
I was being a good student, working hard, harder, hardest. You’re supposed to do that, right?
Except that I was also up at 5 in the morning with nightmares about having to stop dancing because my feet couldn’t take it. Bad dreams connected to real life, projecting my pain forward into fears of not being able to compete
Because of painful feet.
The stuff of Halloween nightmares, just a couple of weeks into November, haunting me. Icing my feet made them worse, so I stopped.
Today I was instructed to relax my legs, relax my arms. Shift my weight onto the ball of the feet. Let my body weight move and let my legs and feet catch me.
Consciously feeling the energy in my body and tuning in to that
Using my body knowledge from Alexander work to say “no” to fear.
Letting my body fly and
Trusting my legs to be there.
Trusting my feet, which I at some deep level, I never did. They’ve let me down, or that’s what I’ve been telling myself about them.
Till today, when a new truth emerged
Like a butterfly
And I found that the less I “did” the more I moved,
And the better it felt to dance Viennese Waltz, like never before. Feeling happy with the innocence of a child, no worries, happy, smooth, can’t stop smiling.
Flying around the floor yet controlling my weight on my feet.
Thinking in an Alexander way, using mental muscle but not “doing” with my feet muscles. Saying to my feet, “not to do.”
Putting my Alexander training to good use, truing up the balance of my head on my spine.
Today was like waking up a feeling I haven’t felt since childhood
When my favorite thing was to swing on the swings, higher and higher, laughing my head off, weightless and flying.
Viennese Waltz reminded me of the swings of my childhood. My body learned it newly; more like something remembered, really, body remembering what it can do, used to do, still can do, it seems…
And my feet loved it.
Unlike other days when my feet hurt
Now I want to dance because I do not anticipate pain.
And my poor feet, I feel so badly for talking down to them. I chided them the other day, thinking in my mind that they’re ugly feet, bashed about, poor ugly feet.
Today, my feet spoke to me. Saying, “Look what we can do when you let us do our own job! Just move yourself and we’ll be there for you!”
“Let yourself breathe,” they said. “We want to breathe, too!”
Release the tension coating your body like some kind of steel mesh robo-skin. Let yourself breathe….let your ankles be soft, soft feet…happy feet…catching you…
Let yourself fly with your body and now we will gently, softly, kiss the floor. And you will love us if you let dance the way we are born to do….flying….painting lines like velvet brushes on the floor, softly, soft in the ankles, sweet in the way we can trace and point, pointing the way before, pointing where we’ve been, happy feet, happy toes.
Cannot wait to dance again,
with feet like velvet on the floor.
P.S. I share what I’ve learned so you can be free in your body and let the dancer who lives inside you out on the dance floor. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, sign up here for Dana’s Dance Diary for tips, articles and advance notice of upcoming classes!