By Cari-Lenn Orr

August 2013

Infinity Ballet Teacher and Choreographer

“I’m a special child. I’m a special child. There is nobody quite like me.”  This is the melodic tune that I would hear my mother serenade me and my siblings with throughout our formative years, and these are words that still impact my life as an adult. They are the very words that I believe every individual needs to hear at some point in their lives. More often than not we all have had people to speak words of affirmation into our lives as well as words of nullification which shape who we are today.  My mother happens to be one of the most influential voices in my life to this day, and it was her whisper of “you can do it” that helped me along in my journey as a professional dancer.   

As dancers, we are constantly having to look at ourselves in the mirror… constantly bombarded with ideas  or notions about the ideal body type…constantly comparing ourselves to the next moving figure next to, in front of or behind us and find ourselves discontent with what we have been given.  We strive to obtain this “perfect” image or facility instead of striving to be the better us. I ask you…WHO DEFINES YOU ANYWAY?  Does society? People? Loved ones? Teachers? You? Because whoever you CHOOSE to give that power to, that is who is shaping your life.  WORDS SHAPE OUR LIVES. GOOD OR BAD…they are tools that mold us into the individuals that we were, that we are and that we will be if we GIVE them PERMISSION to do so.

More often than not we as dancers tend to fall into this spiders web of perfectionism and people pleasing. We gradually fade away from what is TRUTH (you are “fearfully made wonderfully…a marvelous work you are”…yes YOU) and live in this fallacy world of “this is what is acceptable and if you are not this than you are not equipped to be a dancer or do dance professionally” or for that matter whatever it is that you are striving toward.   As stated before, WORDS HAVE POWER and can determine the condition of your mental, emotional and spiritual health as well as your physical health. Be careful who you give your ear to and your time to. And when you do not have control over who is in your life and what they speak in your life, be sure to get alone when you can or when you are given the opportunity to be away from that person or those persons and recount for YOURSELF truth – you are not a mistake but are rather “fearfully made wonderful…a marvelous work you are” and that is undeniable!  Like my mother said you’re a “special child…(you’re a) special child…there is nobody quite like (you).”

What has become my reality even the more is this – MY SHAPE IS NOT JUST defined by appearance, how slender or how curvaceous I am, but rather WHO I AM, and the same applies to YOU. I’d like to say it this way and have adopted this thought – what has been given you to contribute to this world is your *“SHAPE” (Daily Hope with Rick Warren). Of course every individual has their own physical shape and we each have a responsibility to be the best we can be in having a strong, healthy body. It is important for us as dancers to MAXIMIZE all of our resources to acquire the healthiest facility we can have. We each have been given a blessed talent to communicate through movement and because our bodies are the tool for this most beautiful expression, it would behoove us to treat it with special care i.e. a healthy mentality, nutrient-dense diet, exercise (find something that you enjoy doing), and of course taking classes CONSISTENTLY (we are always learning and should put ourselves in a position to always be taught something new. REMAIN TEACHABLE!  This is how we mature and grow into the better people that we were created to be J.).  However, this IS NOT the end all is all.  EVERY DANCER (every individual for that matter) has been given gifts, talents, skills and abilities that are quite different…unique…“SPECIAL”… than anyone else and it is this “SHAPE” (Daily Hope) – as I have been taught and as I have experienced first hand – when honed, fostered and executed, that truly is a part of the equation that makes you, you as well as makes the world of dance and the world as a whole such a more multi-faceted, dynamic, exhilarating habitat to live and thrive in. This is why I always looked forward to going into company rehearsals (regardless of which company I was dancing with at the time)…individuals would bring their best “them” to the floor – their “A-game” and we would come together to create worlds of dynamic splendor through movement.  I would rarely tire from those processes. If anything, I would get even the more inspired by my colleagues to work even harder (and smarter might I add J) in my artistry, which inevitably would overflow into other areas of my life.

So take the 5,6,7,8 of YOUR life and start speaking and recounting just how “SPECIAL” you truly are with your “SHAPE” (Daily Hope) and your amazing gift of dance.  You were created to move upon the heart strings of the people you come into contact with on a daily basis…so dash away with your perfect self (flaws and all J) on the stage of people’s lives and discover just how impacting and rewarding it is when you are justbeingyou.

*inspired by Rick Warren’s Devotional Daily Hope with Rick Warren

Warren, Rick. “Find Your Calling in Your Shape.” Purpose Driven. Web. Aug 16