I love dance. Point blank. I absolutely love dance and cannot imagine my life without it in any way shape or form. It fills me up with life, with love, with hope and faith. It makes me feel human and immortal. It connects me to those around me, to all living things and nonliving things. It reminds me that I am a being on this earth and am living among other beings.

Dance has always made me feel this way not only watching it, making, but especially doing it. Ever since I was 7 years old I used to hear Gloria Estefan’s Spanish song, Mi Tierra. I would use this time to put a towel around my waist and twirl around dancing. As I danced, I imagined all of my fears twirling away and felt the strength and beauty that life is. Yes I felt this way at 7 years old.

When I finally recognized my love and power for dance, I was in my late teens. I decided to be in my high school’s dance concert, which was for anyone that loved dance and had an idea for a performance (no real technique required). I chose to dance and choreograph my own solo piece to Seal’s Love’s Divine.

This being my first time performing onstage, I never knew that the feelings I had about dance could translate to other people who were just watching me. Performing this piece brought me back to being 7 years old, where I just let go. No worries, no fears, completely raw and filled with strength. Everyone that has seen me perform this piece, from family to friends to strangers, till this day tell me, “Every time I hear this song I have to stop because I see you dancing it as beautiful as you did.” I used to think comments like that were “just because”, not really understanding how the power of seeing dance could elicit insight into someone’s life circumstances.

After going through some really rough patches of heartbreak, loss, and depression, I found myself going back to the place where my fears would leave me. This time I would dance spontaneously in an empty dance studio every day for a month to Let Go by Frou Frou. I found myself crying every time I would finish dancing to this song. I never understood why I cried, but I think it had to do with me actually letting go of the rough patches that had attached themselves to me. Understanding it now, dancing gave me permission to let go and move on with my life.

Among this, I learned more about the life of professional dancers and saw how crappy it could be. So I decided against that idea and looked for more. I mean I know I wanted to dance but I desired to do it differently, especially since I kept hearing that after a certain age dancers have to retire. But why is that?  This absolutely made me want to change the game around, but in a new way. Not just learn technique, but go into several dance companies, run dance classes and brand myself for a company, while educating myself on why dance has such an amazing hold on society as well as myself. I wanted to show the world this gift. I wanted to show the world true power and beauty — in a way that they would not only understand it, but see it, feel it, and want more of it… as it had happened to me. So I learned about dance therapy and got my MS in Dance/Movement Therapy. No one could have prepared me for this!

To be clear getting your masters in Dance/Movement Therapy is not like getting a masters in dance, or massage therapy, or physical or occupational therapy (I’ve heard this sooo many times). Dance therapy training rips everything you think you know about yourself and makes you look at your disheveled self in the mirror while finding a way to put yourself together piece by piece. Everything that happened in my past revisited me JUST from my body remembering the movements explored in classes. This rang especially true when working with clients from all different types of background. In dance therapy there is something called countertransference in which the therapist transfers emotions and feelings to the person in therapy. This generally arises out of a transference, when a transfer of emotions and feelings from the person in therapy is poured onto the therapist.  Perhaps, this is why I was feeling my past experiences through the movement that was happening in the room.

Becoming a dance therapist has helped me understand that I have been a dance therapist my WHOLE LIFE. I mean I danced when times were hard, amazing, and of course when I had something to say. I know now that no matter anyone’s situation mental or physical, dance can bring about so much insight, support, and empathy. Even just watching dance connects observers to a place that just using words alone would take years to reach. One last thing I learned as a dance therapist and am still learning is that EVERYONE CAN DANCE. I don’t care if you are in a wheelchair, mentally disabled or ill, paralyzed, deaf, blind, only have 1 limb..YOU CAN DANCE. I have worked with all of the above mentioned and not mentioned and they have taught me that their movements speak louder than anyone that has four limbs can walk, talk, and see. Because of this I have a completely new perspective of dance that took me until now to understand..I believe in it.

-Lefty

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