The Best is Yet to Come

(AKA: Let’s talk Ageism)

Husband:  “Hey did you see that the Koresh Dance Company is looking for artists to audition for their show next month?”

Me: “Yeah. Screw it. I don’t have a chance.”

Husband: “Why?”

Me: “ ‘Cuz I’ll be the ONLY one not doing straight-up contemporary and I’m clearly WAY older than working dancers these days.”

Husband: “Oh C’mon! The worst that could happen is they say no. And I know you love those opportunities when you can straight up perform your bellydance and contemporary fusion.”

Me:  “Yeah…I guess.  I have a crap load of performance videos that I can choose from.  I’ll think about it.” (I knew I wasn’t gonna do it anyway)

A week later I came across the email again and it was the last day to submit. I figured why not, and submitted a Yemeni style and Israeli pop choreography video along with the application.  Well, 2 weeks later I received an email stating that I was in!  Hot diggity! Who knew?  

When I arrived on the day of the tech rehearsal, I realized that I was the ONLY older dancer there. Now, when I say older, I mean way older.  Like 20-30 years their senior.  

For realz!  

Wasn’t sure how to sit with that.  Should I feel like a badass or should I feel nervous and “try” to up my game to meet their skills? 

While I was stretching to get ready for my turn for tech, I watched these young dancers rehearse from the corner of my eye.  It was such an eye opener.  It was all about nailing tricks. For example, I saw this one young dancer practicing a triple pirouette, into an attitude turn, then finish into a panche.  I was like dang!  (byw, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, no worries….all you need to know is that it’s friggin CHALLENGING!)  So, she kept drilling and drilling, and kept falling and falling out of her panche.  She was getting pissed and worried as she didn’t want to disappoint her choreographer. After multiple tries, she did finally nail it. (but not sure if she did in her actual performance.)

I continued watching the other dancers rehearse and although they were amazing technicians, something was missing. To be honest, when I was a contemporary dancer in NYC, it wasn’t always about the technique and tricks, but the performance quality.  What actually happened to “dancing”?  Since when have dancers become acrobatics?  What happened to the art of emotion? 

And then it hit me. These dancers have not lived enough life yet.  And you know what…that’s ok!  They shouldn’t be AMAZING performers yet – but they will be. 

I wondered then why I was chosen to be in the show.  I guess understanding the world more and having lived more life translated into my work. Maybe my artistic depth was refreshing for the directors to see.  (definitely something I didn’t have 25 years ago.)  

So, I flipped my insecurity quickly and thought about the whole ideology that dancers have a short lifespan.  Well, my eyes lit up and I called B.S. on that!  The assumption that dancers get tired by their late 30’s, and should let the new generation come in, is totally not true.  Why??

‘Cuz I’m living proof! 

Who are we to say what the right length of time is for someone else’s career? And in what other industry is that the case?

Look, although my body and its ability has changed, I’ve grown more knowledgeable of my instrument, and it’s become more refined.  I actually feel like I’m dancing better than ever – and smarter!  I know my body now and make choices to protect it so that it does last longer. And you know what else I’ve noticed…? I don’t question my artistic choices anymore – I trust it.  It’s so friggin liberating!

But let’s also not forget that this mindset change is NOT only one-sided. I can only speak for myself but I need to also stop saying that I’m old, because I’m not.  I’m just more conscious of what I can do. Dang…language is so powerful.  You know?

So, my wish for society is to look at dancers like myself as in their prime. Dancers in their late 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s can serve as a bridge to what’s possible. WE need to be seen, and younger dancers need to see US, so that they can learn how to approach their careers with longevity. 

Next month on June 8th, I turn 50 years old, and I’m not sour about it at all.  In fact, I still feel like I’m 25 – but with agency.  And I’m excited about what I’ll be able to offer the world in the next chapter of my life.  

Because the best is yet to come. 

Dance on my friends,


P.S. (Want to keep dancing with me?  Join me and my sophisticated instructors in the SharQui Virtual Studio for only $5.  Join here!)

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