We’ve all been there. That special relationship that once was so fresh and promising has now run its course. It’s not easy to let go-especially after all you’ve been through together. But sometimes you just have to move on, in order to grow. Yes, sometimes that broke down old pair of shoes (you know, the one that has turned from a once shiny tan satin to move of a dull gray) that fits you like a glove just has to be replaced. Or that favorite pair of latin pants, your old friend, who has been with you through thick and thin, and is now more thin then anything else, yes, sometimes it’s hard, but we must move on. It’s common for us performers, athletes and artists to become attached to a particular article of our gear. Maybe it’s a good luck charm. If it’s a wearable item, it might be so well molded to our bodies that no new replacement feels quite the same or as comfortable. What ever the reason, tossing out your old ballroom dancing stuff takes a toll on your heart.
Throwing away a detestable leotard is an emotional experience unlike any other.
–Toni Bentley, NYCB ballerina
Have you ever seen a dancer who has a pair of shoes that is being held together with glue, hope and a prayer?
Those shoes deserve to be taken out of service and given a well earned retirement. After all, when you really think about it, they are not providing either the aesthetic or practical function that they should. (In fact, unsupportive footwear can actually increase the risk of injury). The leather or satin is worn with bald patches, the soles are no longer worth brushing as there is no more suede to fluff and the straps or laces are frayed. But nevertheless, we seem to remain attached to certain objects and the thought of tossing them out inspires panic reminiscent of letting go of a childhood blankie. Sure it’s irrational, but most dancers understand this inexplicable attachment!
Erik’s favorite Latin shirt
Despite my best efforts, rationalizing, pleading, reasoning, offering a replacement, Erik simply cannot give up a particular Latin shirt that came with him from Canada-we’re talking over 16 years ago! In that time, of course he’s had countless other beautiful new shirts made which he’s worn throughout our pro career and then with his pro-am students. Even now, strictly dancing pro-am, he has several new shirts a year. But this old standby, his old buddy, always travels with him in the bag to every competition. I feel so sorry for it, drooping pitifully on the hanger, seemingly to woefully say
Please put me out of my misery, I’m so tired
–Erik’s Latin shirt
But yet, Erik refuses to see how exhausted it is. His rational is that it is a “classic style”. Never mind that when he does wear it, it is being held together by strategically placed safety pins and emergency stitching. Never mind that the fabric is so thin, it’s one wash away from disintegrating. In fact, when I wash his costumes after a comp, I’m nervous that this might be the time that it actually dissolves. I handle it with the upmost care, like an ancient relic, as I know that any harm that comes to it will be squarely placed on me and deemed sabotage.
My favorite teaching shoes
But I can’t blame him entirely, after all I have a pair of well-loved practice shoes that gave up the ghost long ago, but are still my go-to pair for teaching. Bald as they are on both the top and bottom, they just fit so much better then any new pair. Sure they have no traction, the heel is worn down to the plastic and the soles have been glued countless times, but somehow the idea of putting those loyal workhorses out to pasture puts a twinge in my heart. So what about you? What favorite item are you holding on to past its prime? It might just be time to have that heart-to-heart and finally let that relationship live on in memories only!
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