Previously, in Chapter Seven of My Journey…
I competed in 7 competitions within 3 years. An acquaintance at a competition hit me with a “Calm the F*ck Down” truth smack that changed my dancing forever. From then on, I won 5 out of the 7 competitions. I felt accomplished.
If you missed Chapter One of My Journey read it HERE, Chapter Two is HERE. Chapter Three is HERE. Chapter Four is HERE. Chapter Five is HERE. Chapter Six is HERE. Chapter Seven is HERE.
Here is Chapter 8…
I MADE IT!
As a result of studying music, teaching fitness was super easy for me. It was like being held back in a Music Theory 101 class for like 10 years. Sh*t, how many times can I count up to 8, and backwards from 8, and always in 4/4-time! (Musicians, I’m sure ya’ feel me on this one). I needed variety, a challenge, and more DANCE in my life!
One day, with time to kill between classes, I sat in a Starbucks in my hood, with a non-fat latte in hand (I’m a Starbucks junkie), reading the Village Voice. I came upon an article about the Ailey school and how their relocation and construction would be finishing in the next few months. They were implementing a program called the Ailey Extension – offering all types of dance and dance fitness classes to the public, and… THEY WERE HIRING. I gasped and nearly peed my pants! This was my moment. My moment to be affiliated with Ailey! Hell yeah!
But wait… let me rewind for a sec.
I should tell you that in my contemporary dance days, I auditioned for the Ailey School twice, and rejected twice; and had a private audition in one of their prestigious ballet classes for the Israeli dance company, Bat Sheva. (rejected as well cuz’ I was told that my technique was not good and was too fat) As you can see, Ailey was a bit of my Achilles heel. So, I immediately emailed the director with my resume that night!
I opened up my email the next day and BAM! – there it was. A response from the director asking me to come in for an audition to teach. YASSSSS! I felt so close to fulfilling my dream of being associated with Ailey; although not as a dancer like I once dreamed, but as a teacher – and a teacher of a prestigious school! I responded to the email immediately and set up an audition for the next day.
So, remember back in chapter 3 when I thought being a dance teacher was 2nd rate? Well, not no more bitches! In the spring of 2004, I began my journey with Ailey.
Teaching at Ailey was the BEST experience. In the beginning, while Ailey was getting the word out to the non-dance public, I had pro dancers coming to my classes. I even had a few of the Ailey 2 company sneak in. It was SO refreshing to teach dancers! You can teach them anything and they’ll pick it up (choreography + pro dancers = heaven). They even gave me an offer to teach master bellydance workshops in choreography twice a year and continued to do so until about 2017.
It felt GREAT. Life was good.
But there was just one piece that was missing.
The feeling that I “made it”.
During one of my visits back to NYC I had a moment (I should mention that I was living in San Francisco from 2008-2014. Totally hated it, but that’s another story). I had about 2 hours to kill before my workshops at Ailey. Was feeling nostalgic and wanted to grab lunch at the dive I used to frequent before and after auditioning and taking class at the original Ailey school. I skipped over to 9th and 54th street and noticed that my dive changed to a swanky, Mexican cafe. I was like, “Dang! So much for nostalgia”.
Anyway, got myself seated at a corner table. I ordered my food, gave the waiter my menu, looked out the window and saw the Ailey school, kitty corner to me. Then it hit me like a f*ckin’ ton of bricks! A waterfall of tears rushed down and I cried like a baby. The waiter rushed over with wide eyes and asked, “Is everything was ok? Was the wine not to your liking?” (yeah, wine during lunch, but hey, it’s always 5pm somewhere) I just brushed it off as if I received sad news.
So, what hit me like a mac truck was that I simply needed to flip the script. I couldn’t believe that all those years as an aspiring dancer while getting rejected, being called fat, sitting in the dive, (which is now a swanky Mexican cafe, dammit) and drowning in my sorrows about Ailey, that NOW I was teaching there. Although it was a different path, I still got there!
I felt so incredibly proud.
With tears running down my face and into my taco salad, I shut my eyes, took a deep breath in, and savored the moment. I felt like I could now lean back and admire this masterpiece I created. All this time I was playing a different story in my head. It all came full circle, and just realized it.
One. Beautiful. Complete. Circle.
Oprah would be proud.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of My Journey, tomorrow.