My dad’s dance group, TEAM Dance Studio, which I have been dancing for all my life, will perform one of my dad’s best works, Giri, in February. It’s to two songs by world/ethnic fusion band Pinikpikan, “Aumoon,” and “Kahimanawari.” We performed Aumoon recently, and haven’t done Kahimanawari in a while so we were watching a video of Giri to recall the dance.
The video was part of a collection of several years of CCP Balletfests. At the beginning of it was the Pas de Trois from Paquita, performed by myself, Lucas and Jacqui, circa 2001. After rehearsals, Lucas replayed the video to watch us perform the pas de trois. I remember when I saw the video back in 2001, I was mainly criticizing everything I did and wasn’t very happy with it. In 2014, I could still see things I could have improved on (and did, over the years) but I was also (finally) enjoying the performance of my 27 year old self.
Jacqui kept saying, “Wow, ang galing pala natinI Magaling na pala tayo niyan?” (Wow, we’re so awesome! Did we really already dance like that back in the day?) I just nodded. I felt this last year, when I was starting to dance more regularly, how my body already feels its 39 years, especially because I was fighting hard to defy this age. I kept thinking, what was I doing the last 20 years? It felt like I wasn’t dancing at all, and wasted all my youth.
Which wasn’t the case, of course. That’s the problem with dance, as soon as you stop dancing, the dance is over. You do your curtsies and exit the stage, and then think of the next dance. You can watch the video, but you don’t spend all your time watching several years of video footage. You forget. You regret. You always, always think your best dancing is still ahead, has yet to happen.
Which, I guess is why I write about dance, I always feel that I need to get it down and document it and make sure other people know that this happened. Which also explains why writing about dance feels fatalistic as well – I think I’m not writing enough, I think people aren’t reading what I do write, etc. (Or maybe I’m just fatalistic, period. Hehe.)
As I move to a country where ballet companies are discouraged for wearing the short tutu, I wonder if this is the end of my dancing career (but not my dance career – spot the difference). I know I’m always saying I’m going to dance forever, but suddenly that’s just something I like to say. Faced with an uncertain future, I have to gather up my past triumphs and embrace them, breathe them in, let them shine through me like that scene in Neverending Story where Bastian gives the Childlike Empress a name (or for you younger folk, that scene in Frozen where Elsa’s castle materializes around her).
New mantra: You were a dancer, Joelle. You were awesome. You still are, you always will be.