"Dance Is My Time For Make-Believe"
"I don't wanna go to dance!" As a kid, these were my famous words.
When packing into the car for the interminable ride to the studio, I would kick and scream so much that I earned the nickname "The Hornet." I am so glad my parents put up with my sting, because looking back, it was just the going part that I didn't like. The dance part, I loved. I always have.
One of the most resounding reasons I love dance is because I love people. I have always been a people person; I enjoy being around people, people-watching and telling and listening to their stories. I enjoy the feeling of collective energy when I dance–like I am a small part of something big, while simultaneously feeling singularly special.
Perhaps my favorite thing about people is our incredible power and ability to create. Humans have imagination, and dancers have the power to communicate what is imagined. Dancing with Justin Timberlake is a perfect example of this. His music lends itself to a certain mood, and when I'm on stage, it's my job to go beyond the actual steps and take on that essence to transport the audience to a different place.
Photo by Taylor James, courtesy Dana Wilson
This is a magical thing! It takes great discipline and skill to translate ideas into a physical form. But then again, kids do it all the time. I'm a big kid now, but my inner child still loves to play.
When I am dancing, however, I am free of those externalities that confine, regulate and restrict me. When I'm dancing on stage, in a studio or at a party, I feel free. I control my timing, and the texture of my movements, but I also use my imagination to control how I am feeling. It is my time for make-believe. It might be the only point during the day that I am in control of when and how I move through the world.
Just hearing the word "improvisation" is enough to make some ballet dancers shake in their pointe shoes. But for Chantelle Pianetta, it's a practice she relishes. Depending on the weekend, you might find her gracing Bay Area stages as a principal with Menlowe Ballet or sweeping in awards at West Coast swing competitions.
She specializes in Jack and Jill events, which involve improvised swing dancing with an unexpected partner in front of a panel of judges. (Check her out in action below.) While sustaining her ballet career, over the past four years Pianetta has quickly risen from novice to champion level on the WCS international competition circuit.
Sean Dorsey was always going to be an activist. Growing up in a politically engaged, progressive family in Vancouver, British Columbia, "it was my heart's desire to create change in the world," he says. Far less certain was his future as a dancer.
Like many dancers, Dorsey fell in love with movement as a toddler. However, he didn't identify strongly with any particular gender growing up. Dorsey, who now identifies as trans, says, "I didn't see a single person like me anywhere in the modern dance world." The lack of trans role models and teachers, let alone all-gender studio facilities where he could feel safe and welcome, "meant that even in my wildest dreams, there was no room for that possibility."
It's hour three of an intense rehearsal, you're feeling mentally foggy and exhausted, and your stomach hurts. Did you know the culprit could be something as simple as dehydration?
Proper hydration helps maintain physical and mental function while you're dancing, and keeps your energy levels high. But with so many products on the market promising to help you rehydrate more effectively, how do you know when it's time to reach for more than water?