written by Kirsten Schmidtke
Why you should get up and dance this International Dance Day.
They said I danced before I could walk.
I dedicated the first quarter of my life to dance rigorously preparing for ballet exams, taking every opportunity to study at professional schools over the summer, and filling my schedule with classes of any kind: jazz, tap, modern, lyrical… You name it, I was there.
I pursued my passion for dance right out of high school when I moved to Southern California to realize my dream of performing and seeing the world. Not long after, I had moved on to another dance dream of mine: owning a dance studio. It came at a time when I was starting university and had also taken a position at my university as the dance coach. Although my plate was full and my need to over-achieve would keep my education a priority, my heart was in the business.
After all, this was my first go at entrepreneurship (if you don’t count teaching swimming lessons from my backyard pool in my late teens - now that was a sweet gig!). When I co-founded the studio, I was willing to throw it all on the line to make it a success.
However, after three years I knew it wasn’t the right fit. I was in a relationship and partnership that wasn’t healthy and I felt myself being called to do something more, something bigger, and something different with my life. I was far away from home and didn’t envision myself being happy without having my family nearby.
In the end, I decided to pull out. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’d ever made and one that temporarily took my identity and as a result, my purpose and my confidence.
Leaving my students was devastating and as I grieved the loss of my business, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through it all.
What now seems obvious didn’t show up for me right away.
But whether by divine intervention (or more likely my brother looking out for me - a natural strength of his), I was asked to join a cast again who would be traveling to Japan to perform. That led me to hop on a flight to L.A. to join a week-long dance festival where I found myself reconnecting to my truth, living in the present moment, and starting to heal.
I was dancing for myself again.
For the pure enjoyment, fulfillment, and expression it provided me. It was both a way to let go of my hurt while filling up the buckets of my soul. I had found my therapy, my coping mechanism, my spiritual guidance.
For years I have struggled with whether or not I should call myself a dancer. After all, it’s been years since I’ve been on the stage and in the studio. I’ve dabbled in drop-in classes here and there and picked up teaching jobs, but I could never balance them with my commitment to my career.
But once a dancer, aren’t you always a dancer? In fact, aren’t we all dancers?
After all, as human beings, isn’t it in our nature to express ourselves through movement?
Fast forward to a year ago when the lockdown had started and being alone with uncertainty and doubt in my 600 sq ft was starting to build up. Dance had been my guide in the past, was it possible it could help me find my way through this too?
Enter Kinrgy: an expanded fitness method led by Julianne Hough designed to guide you to connect to your true self, while leading you to move your body and unleash your imagination.
No technique required. No flexibility necessary. No complicated choreography to follow.
I had finally found an opportunity to dance again: to feel free of inhibition, judgement, and self-consciousness. I could be free in my movement, in my body, and embrace the dancer I’ve always been regardless of my loss of flexibility and technique.
Dance proved yet again to have the power to move me.
Both in its physical form, as well as its spiritual form as it connected me back to myself.
Connecting to my roots and my true love for dance reminded me of the importance of self-expression and creativity, and the critical role they play in our day-to-day lives. They give us the opportunity to connect with ourselves, to know ourselves, and to show up completely as ourselves in all aspects of our lives.
This connection to self, guided me to embark on a spiritual and wellness journey that has led to one simple truth:
Self expression is self care.
It has become the mantra of my personal brand and my personal well-being.
I encourage you to celebrate yourself this International Dance Day and embrace the dancer within you. You don’t need training, technique, or equipment - just you. Put on some music (or don’t), move the furniture to create some space, and dance like no one is watching.
After all, dance can be fun, liberating, releasing, healing, and messy - much like life is.