Gratitude, Wonderment, and Dance.

I’m sitting here, at my computer, having watched just one single dance video repeatedly for the past 40 minutes. After that, I was lying on my bed, unable to sleep. I was literally quivering, so high on that one video alone. That is what inspired this post.

I’ll start off by posting the video I was watching.

If you haven’t watched it, go watch it. If you’ve already watched it, watch it again. And again. And again.

It’s what I’ve been doing anyway.

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I want to start off the post proper by firstly saying that I feel so incredibly blessed. I feel so amazingly lucky and blessed, for everything that’s happened to me the past few months, dance wise and life wise. 

Last week wasn’t so good though, I had a major moment of self-doubt that I was able to get through solely with the help of my friends, and for that I’m thankful too. I’m thankful for all my friends, each and every single one of them, whether I may show it or not, I love all of you. In some way or the other each and every one of them has made me who I am today, and I am so incredibly blessed to have met all these people. Some may not be friends anymore, but they were in my life for some time at least, and I learnt from them. I learnt from all of them. Thank you, my friends.

I know I’ve pretty much established that I’m really thankful, but it goes beyond just simple words. There’s a feeling of innate, gratitude that cannot be expressed no matter how many words one types, one that cannot be conveyed through hugs or kisses. It simply exists, carefully close to the top of your soul, threatening to flow over the top and cover the world with its infectious joy. And you, standing there quivering with this joy built up inside you, you wouldn’t dream of doing a single thing to stop the infection. This epidemic is one you would gladly see infect everyone in the world, if only to give others a glimpse of what you are feeling and what you experience.

ZEN PENCILS – EDGAR MITCHELL: A global consciousness

I think this comic comes close to what I’m feeling, but less to do with politics and more to do with just… joy. Plain, simple, unbridled joy.

Maybe it’s because my birthday is literally a day away, I’ve been reflecting on my life and the things I’ve done, and that is partly what inspired this post. I’ve been feeling so incredibly blessed to be where I am today, to be able to do what I do, whether it’s study Engineering in one of the best universities in the world, or whether it’s being able to dance alongside my friends, incredibly talented dancers. I just feel so thankful, that I don’t even want my birthday to be about getting presents, or about celebrating me. I think that where I am, where I’ve come from, is enough celebration of me. I want this birthday to be different, to be about anything but me.

I’ve been celebrating my birthday expecting gifts for 23 years now, and I think that I’ve received enough gifts. I don’t want anything anymore. I’m maintaining that I don’t want any gifts. I want no spending of money to be done on my account. I’m thankful for all that I have, and what I don’t have, I don’t believe I need anymore. 

This joy, this… gratitude that I’m feeling is something I cannot stop thinking about, something I cannot stop feeling. And I’m so happy that it’s that way. I hope it never goes away. That’s why, based on a recommendation by Sarah, I’m making a record of exactly what I’m feeling, as detailed as possible, on this blog. Remember this feeling, read the rest of the post, remember what this feels like, so if you ever feel shitty, remind yourself of what you felt on this day.

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This post was inspired by a dance video I watched.

Hence a large part of the gratitude is towards dance. 

I watched the video over and over again, enough to notice the small details people wouldn’t notice on the first few playthroughs. 

Enough to see the pure joy that radiated from the dancers’ when they were dancing full out with no reservations and nothing held back. 

Enough to see the dancers around them feel this joy as it emanated from them, see them absorb this feeling and make it their own and return it back tenfold. 

Enough to see even the most experienced choreographers, despite being internationally renowned and supremely talented themselves, still watch like awestruck students being shown for the first time the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. That wide eyed wonder that you feel when you see something fundamentally inspiring or beautiful for the first time.

Call me crazy, call me melodramatic, but that same wonder is what I’m feeling now, having watched that video.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all JUST FOR THAT VIDEO. 

It’s an accumulation of feels. An accumulation of gratitude, of wonder, for this thing that I love doing. 

Dance.

I’ve been dancing (properly, as a passion) for 3 years now.

I started trying to dance in JC1. when I was 17. Never took it seriously, till after NS, university Hall Rag, in Raffles Hall.

I’ve come a long way. I’ve got a long way to go.

But I can honestly say this.

I love dance.

I love it with a passion that no one can take away from me. I love it with an intensity that sometimes scares me. I love it so much that I’m not ashamed to admit it when a piece moves me to the point of tears. I love it with a purpose that leads me to know, with a finality, that this thing I do, dance, is something that I’m never going to give up

And I’m so incredibly grateful that I have it in my life. Dance is something that no single person or event can ever take away from me. 

That in itself is incredible for me. I have a lot of issues with trust, with friendship, with insecurities. I have a lot of issues period. Sometimes I feel incredibly alone, and incredibly small and weak.

But tonight I realised. I have dance. No matter what happens. I’ll always have dance. I’ll always love dance. Even when I feel forsaken by everyone. Even when I feel like I cannot go on. When I feel like the whole world is against me (melodramatic much, but sometimes everyone feels that way, whether it’s the actual truth or not is another matter altogether).

I know that I can go somewhere, listen to music, find a piece that resonates with how I’m feeling at that point, and move to it.

For someone who relies on the spoken/written word so much, I have a favourite thing I like to say (sort of) and it is (ironically) that words can only say so much.

But in my world, where words fail, movement suceeds.

Dance can express emotions in a way that words will never have the power to. A simple motion, a look, a turn, a jump, can leave an audience, breathless, speechless, even in tears. I’ve read books that can do the same, and those are the truly gifted authors in my opinion, but for me personally, dance has so much more power than books.

I’ve had the privilege of dancing with and learning from some of the truly great dancers, and that is another thing I’m so incredibly grateful for. Being able to watch these maestros in action is another thing that no one can take from me. A memory that is etched onto my brain forever. 

Watching these great dancers, these artists, move with such fluidity and grace is something that has left me in wonder countless times, left me shaking my head in disbelief countless more, and left me simply motionless still more times than that. To see my sources of inspiration with their eyes twinkling and their jaws hanging off the floor, the same way I look when I watch them, is a totally humbling experience.

I’ve come a long way. I’ve got a long way to go. All of us do. No matter where you may be in dance, the beauty of dance is there is no end to the journey of learning. Even masters can learn something. That is what dance has shown me. It’s shown me that no matter how much you may achieve in whatever field you may pursue, there is always more that you can learn, more that you can be inspired by. 

Dance, as a fundamentally physical act, has transcended the physical. This is something else I realised. For me, at least, dance has become an incredible source of strength. It’s almost a religious experience, and I’m not afraid to say that. Religion gives so many people all over the world hope, gives them strength. It inspires, it calms, it brings out the best in people. That is exactly what dance has done for me. To say that dance is a source of strength for me, is not something I say lightly. Many people go through life, struggling with issues most would not be able to handle. They are often asked where they find the strength to go on. I’d like to think that if I were to face such a challenge, that maybe, just maybe dance would help alleviate my burden. When I feel absolutely shitty, when I feel like no one in the whole entire world would care whether I lived or died, I turn to dance. I find a song that resonates, as I said before, and I move. If I am in a position where I cannot move freely, I close my eyes and I imagine myself moving. I see the steps in my mind, see myself executing them perfectly, and though in reality I move nowhere near as strongly/fluidly/whatever-ly as in my mind. I know what I am seeing. I know what I want. I know that that freedom, that freedom of expression is still there. I know that I can dance it away. I can lose myself in the music, the moment, and never let it go. 

Thanks, Eminem.

Another thing I’m grateful for is the fact that I am still able to feel this wonder now, maybe even more intensely than I used to. A lot of people don’t realise, but finding something, anything, that brings you a sense of wonder, of such intense inspiration, is not easy. Lots of people don’t have it. This wonder is something I mentioned but that I want to bring up again, because that awe is far from insignificant, I feel. This sense of awe I feel when watching dancers give their all on stage is, a sense of amazement, of wonderment, of sheer bloody inspiration. Inspiration from the fact that bodies can express what words can’t, inspiration from the fact that the dancers make everything look so effortless, awe at the knowledge that that same effortlessness took endless hours of practice to achieve. 

I was told by a dance senior once, that the day I stop feeling this sense of wonder, is the day I should step away from dance. I’m glad I still have it, and that it is more intense than ever. Being a dancer is not easy, and without the proper motivation pushing you forward, it’s easy to lose sight of why you dance. 

Tonight, I’m reminded of what dance means to me, and of why I dance. Dance is my form of expression, primarily. Though I may use words (excessively), but when you feel a song, and you choreograph to it, there is no greater joy than the joy of sharing your feelings with other people through motion. Dance is my caterpillar, constantly evolving into a butterfly that sheds it’s cocoon for the first time and emerges in all its glory, ready to dazzle the world with its newfound beauty. Dance is my newborn child, staring at the world around it as it takes in all the glorious information for the first time with wide eyed wonder. Dance is my solace, my strength, dance is my friend when I have none, my lover when I feel unlovable, and my god when I question religion. I dance because dance is my safe haven, the secret I have that keeps me smiling when all the world crumbles around me, the strength that keeps me going. 

I dance because I must.

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