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Opinion

Why Dance is Important to Me

It was mid afternoon on an early September day in 2015, and I was in the Fairview Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Ward. I sat in my temporary bed in my temporary room, where everything was white. No matter where I turned, I was met with white walls, a white bedspread, a white pillow, or white window frames. Only the door was different, made from the same light wood that the doors at my school were crafted from.

This was where they were supposed to fix your problems, but it’s hard to escape anything with such blatant reminders of where you are.

My parents had brought me a half a dozen mini doughnuts from a local shop earlier, and I grabbed a french toast flavored one even though I had eaten way too many already. I stuffed my face and walked over to the desk where my fellow patients and I obtained our medication and other amenities that we requested.

“Can you please turn on the radio in my room?” I asked the lady there. She looked up at me.

“What’s your room number?” she asked.

“Seven.”

“What channel?”

I told her my prefered station and headed back to my room, shutting the door behind me. The music came on a few moments later, and I made do with what little space I had, letting the music take over me.

Turns. Jumps. The splits. When something came to mind, I did it. I barely thought about where I was or why I was there. The window with its blinds up looking out over a waste center didn’t phase me. I just danced.

Over the course of the next few days, my brain settled down and I was discharged Monday morning with a new prescription and a psychiatrist to help me.

I have recovered and come quite far since my time in the hospital, but I will never forget that moment, when I shut everything else out and just lost myself in dance. During those days at Fairview, I felt so detached from life. I was the furthest from myself that I’d ever been and ever will be. Yet I still had something inside of me that longed for and told me to dance. I proved to myself that dance will always be important to me, because it has become part of who I am, like my heart or my lungs or my soul. When I’m dancing, I feel it like I feel my pulse or my inhales and exhales: Alive. Natural. Beautiful.

I’ve taken dance for a long time now, and I will admit that there were a few times when I felt like giving up. But I continued, because I had and still have more reasons to keep going than to stop: I dance to forget. I dance to remember. I dance to cry and to laugh. I dance because even that unrecognizable girl in the white hospital room danced to brave the world.

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