When you’re the only fat one (and it’s okay!)

In the interest of updating my site, here’s a bit about performing with one of my real life dance idols Cera Byer last winter.

After my son was born, the first class I rolled into was with Cera, who isn’t always teaching so I jumped on it basically as soon as my doctors greenlighted it. (Class is on hiatus at the moment, so I’m glad I sucked all the meat off it that I could!) She is a very body positive teacher and dancer, and though there is more body diversity in her class than in many others (ballet, I’m looking at you) I’m still the size of at least two and sometimes three of the students put together. Years ago, this would have really bothered me, but dance gives me joy and sets me free so I’m at peace. I actually go full Narcissus when I catch myself in the mirror, sometimes. (My fellow emFATs have seen me do this, too, I’m sure.)

I’m pretty experienced in classes at this point, so a lot of the time I self-modify if I can’t do the step. (A single turn instead of a double, or getting to the floor a different way, for example.) Cera allows and encourages this, but also pushes me.  I love the pushes, even though they’re scary. Just last week, after her nudging, I was able to do a strength move involving very flexed knees that I thought I COULD NOT DO last year. I feel my power and I celebrate it!

Here is rehearsal of a piece I got to perform in with her class. I’m the fattest but no less fierce than anyone else up there. Seeing it makes me proud, every time.

Plus I learned how to embed video!

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My Audition for So You Think You Can Dance

Like many bloggers, I got so far behind I couldn’t figure out how to re-enter my blog game. So, without further delay, here is what I experienced down in LA, in March, 2013. I had just turned 30, which is the absolute age ceiling for that show. I began training the first week of January, when the season was confirmed by Fox. Halfway through training, I learned I was expecting my first child, and thus, at the time of my audition, I was 8 weeks pregnant or so. NOT WHAT I HAD PLANNED! But it was okay. 😀

Here’s what I said on Facebook that night (with typos corrected, hopefully):

Well, I danced for the producers and I got cut, along with 80% of everyone.

No one questioned me or my fat body in any way today. No mean looks, no comments, no negativity of any kind. While I was not given a specific explanation for my cut, the narrative I believe to be true is that what I did was not a joke, and they were only choosing the truly excellent dancers and the jokes. In this body, in that space, “not a joke” is an achievement I can wear proudly.

In terms of how the day went? It was approximately 10 hours of waiting (uncomfortably) in the theater, watching the crew work really really hard at creating the not lit, not dressed look of the LA audition space that will ultimately be televised. Those roadie cases at the back of the stage we can see on TV are METICULOUSLY ARRANGED, GUYS. I had approximately 2 pounds of personal snack materials and ate approximately half of them. The last 90 minutes was in a much smaller room with a dance floor, where we watched groups of ten perform for the producing panel which included alums Sasha, Marko, Tadd, Dominic, Dmitri, Audrey, Matthew, and FUCK YEAH ALEX WONG. Watching the others was the best part. There was some truly slamming talent and I look forward to seeing them go on. I also saw a dancer take a serious knee injury from a fall in a terrifying way. I definitely had a moment of panic when I got into the small room because GIRL I DID NOT BELONG but I did my thing anyway.

Cheers to all who have been watching out for me these past 2.5 months. I am so glad to have taken advantage of my last opportunity to do SYTYCD in the best way that I could.

***

Looking back on that now, I’m extremely proud. I got through the day on saltines and PB, with my baby on board. At the beginning of the session, they told all of us to bring it. “Look us right in the eye. Now or never.” And I did.

Here is what I prepared for the day: (Choreography by Katrin Auch.)

In reality, the cattle call was a 30 second improv to a random, vaguely genre-aligned song. Mine, as someone applying under the “contemporary” genre, was “Send in the Clowns.” I had my favorite sweatshirt on, and I loved it.