This may be the last thing I write for danceproject.ca for quite some time…
You may have noticed I’ve been rather absentee from this blog. In fact, to my astonishment, one reader emailed me asking if there was something wrong my email server as she hadn’t received any emails that I’d written a new blog post in months.
Nope… Nothing wrong. Just straight up neglect.
I’ve been neglecting the dance blogging, and I might continue to do so indefinitely.
I was inspired to write this after a conversation with a new friend. He explained to me so perfectly what I had been struggling to find the words for. Now, I feel that I owe you, the reader, an explanation for why I am disappearing for a bit.
The last post I wrote was about pain, and some of my recent personal experience with it. This post was a stretch to publish on danceproject.ca as it was not even so much about dance specific training as it was about an experience all humans have with their bodies. As I hit publish, I realized that this blog post probably wouldn’t get a lot of hits for exactly that reason- It wasn’t about dance (I was right. No one cared. But it is still one of my favourite things I’ve written).
I am not inspired to write “do this and dance better” blog posts like the ones I used to write. I thought for sure that THIS blog post would be the last, but, I pushed on because I felt like I had a responsibility to keep writing the blog, inspired to or not. But that’s not a reason that I feel serves myself or the reader.
I’M TAKING A BREAK FROM THE DANCE BLOGGERY
For starters, I have to admit that I don’t work with as many dancers as I used to in person, and I find it difficult and unethical to write about something I am no longer in the direct field of.
When I started off in this industry (fitness and, Thai massage, to a lesser degree) I had zero experience. I was fresh out of university, too injured to further pursue a career in dance, and with no other training or skills. So what did I do? I started a business based on my pain: To educate dancers on how they could avoid the challenges that I faced, or at least, minimize them so that they didn’t need to retire from dance at 22. Somehow, 7 or 8 dancers trusted me enough to work with them in the DTP’s first ever summer program, and all of them had a positive experience, even though I had NO CLUE WHAT I WAS DOING.
I knew that I wanted to work one on one with people in the fitness industry, and knowing only dance students at the time, this is the niche I marketed to. I started this blog in 2012 both to build my reputation in this niche, and to help me to learn how to work in a field that I had zero training or experience in. Somehow, people started reading what I had to say and trusted me. That is the beauty and danger of the internet…
So, for 3.5 years, I marketed solely to dance students. Those years were tremendously rewarding. I loved working with dancers. I loved being able to work closely with Ryerson dancers because I knew exactly what they were going through.
But I’ll admit, there was a very self-serving agenda in all this: I needed to work with dancers to fulfill the void within me that was created when I stopped dancing.
Working with dancers was a way for me to hold on to the past. I could still keep one foot in the dance world, even though I had been separated from it. Too, I felt guilty because of the amount of time and money my parents had invested in me for my dance training over the past 10 years with the hopes of “making it” as a dancer. I felt that by failing to succeed as a professional dancer, I’d let them and myself down.
Working with dancers seemed to ease the guilt.
Silly, because deep down I knew that the professional dance world was not one that I was suited for. I found it to be very superficial, competitive, and quite honestly, found it very difficult to relate to any dancers in a meaningful way. I didn’t fit in, and I was happy not to be pursuing dance as a career, but was still way too attached to the identity.
Those 3.5 years of working with dancers were to heal my soul. Heal my guilt. Heal my body.
I blogged to renew my identity. To justify what I was doing. To find a new way of living without looking like a quitter.
Unfortunately, these 3.5 years did not heal my finances. I was essentially doing charity work. Charging the least amount of money I could so that the poor dance students living off their student loans and part time jobs could afford my rates. In order not to worry about money, I ignored my poverty completely. It wasn’t an issue because I didn’t make it an issue. I focused on the work I was doing, the people I was helping, and the healing I was doing for myself. I was truly happy for the first time in 8 years.
Then, in 2015, I was offered a job at a big sports medicine clinic. Working there would mean that I was unable to market to dancers in the same way, as all my referrals would be from the clinic itself. It also meant that my rates would no longer be in my control, and would increase by about 100% for the dance students who were used to my “charity” rates. But I took the job. This was the beginning of the “letting go” process.
Letting go: No longer needing to be attached to the world of dance. No longer needing to work with dancers because they were the only clientele I had experience with. No longer needing my work to heal my guilt. Realizing that I didn’t fit in with the dance world, and keeping one foot in it was hurting me. Realizing that if I did ever want to give back, I first had to have something to give, and, living in near poverty was not going to allow me to do that.
Dancers reading this will understand how difficult it is to let go of the identity.
The question: For how long do I have to stop dancing in order to not consider myself a dancer? I think I would love to perform again, or at least, dance regularly again, but I do not know when that will be.
I am often inspired by emails from dancers who are 50, 60+ and who say they have returned to dance after a 30 year hiatus, rekindled a lost love with it, and found my blog as they were searching for ways to take care of their bodies. I think this is so beautiful, and it makes me remember that I have only been out of the professional dance training space for 5 years.
In 2015 when I changed jobs and suddenly stopped working with as many dancers, I felt an extreme amount of dissonance about it. I was known as the dance training girl. I had made training dancers part of my identity, and now it seemed I was losing that one too.
Who was I if I was not connected in any way to the world of dance, as a dancer, or as a trainer of dancers?
Taking the job was a step in the right direction (even though I quit a year later), as it forced me to consider what I was truly passionate about. Not what I thought I should do, or what people thought I did, but what I actually wanted to do with my developing skill set.
As I worked less and less with dancers, and more with an older post-rehab population, my writing began to change. I was no longer writing to build a reputation within a niche, but simply because I loved to, because it helped me learn from the new challenging clientele I was working with. I found it increasingly difficult to find inspiration from the dance world to fuel my writing.
And now, I can honestly say that, while there is a special place in my heart for working with dancers, I will not go out of my way to market to them anymore. I will not charge a lower rate for dancers, I will charge the value i feel I am worth, the same that all of my clients pay. I will not do volunteer work for dancers just to get “in the community”.
I’m done enough healing of the guilt that I’ve been able to let go of the identity. I’ve transcended the need to be attached to the world of dance. And I’ve realized it’s not the “what’, but the “why”.
Somewhere along my way, I confused the “what”- working with dancers, for the “why”- Helping individuals to unlock their potential through understanding their bodies and moving in different ways.
When I realized I could fulfill my why without a dance-only clientele, I was free.
Sure, I love working with dancers. I think they are an under-served niche that I enjoy working within, but, the world of dance is not quite ready for the un-sexy work that I do, and I’m not prepared to fight my way in.
When I started out this industry I was primarily focused on the strength training part of it. I thought squats and deadlifts could fix anything. The reality is that any new stimulus can feel like it’s changing and helping things, but only for so long.
I was continuing to move around my own issues, and so, this is what I was also doing with my clients. I wasn’t addressing the fundamentals of how I was moving. Though I was stronger, my body did not feel “better”. It wasn’t until Anatomy in Motion (also in 2015) that I came to understand what I had been searching for all along: An honest, healing movement practice. This became the new focus of my writing.
I realized eventually that what I really cared about was not to work with dancers, not to redeem myself for failing as a dancer, but I was looking for a way to heal myself. In Anatomy in Motion, I found it.
The healing will never end, but I’ve healed enough to know that I can let go and still feel intact. And so, I’m letting go of this blog, for now. I’ll be sure to email when write something new. But for now, I’m done.
I am also still actively a part of Dance Stronger, the book, program, and community I created in 2014. I will likely be trying to get Dance Stronger published in print in the next year or two as I am very proud of how it turned out.
I’m grateful for the readers, 6492 email subscribers, and 4807 Facebook followers of The Dance Training Project, for the past 5 years. I really did not anticipate that I would have any followers, and was not sure that my message would be one that anyone else in the world cared about.
I’m grateful for the dancers who emailed me to let me know about what they were working on, and inspired by so many of you who are doing the work to dance stronger.
Thanks for reading. Keep in touch, and check back in here sometime.
That all said, I’m still going to write stuff. I’ve began to write about the stuff that doesn’t fit in with the dance blog in a new spot: monikavolkmar.com.
I am using this website to write about some stuff that I find fascinating: Human movement, Anatomy in Motion, strength training, breathing, and being a human. I will be writing a bit more technically, and less info-tainment-y, in some cases. Since I don’t give one damn about building a reputation anymore, I don’t feel the need to censor my language to make it readable to the average person. Will this deter readers? Yeah, probably, but I don’t care much about how many people read this blog. I’m writing for me and the 1% of you who will also enjoy.
Got any questions or comments? Let er rip. Always happy to hear from you.
I look forward to being back in the dance world when the time is right. Again. Afterall, I’ve still got the rest of my life…