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A Very Merry Unbirthday

Today is Jynx’s birthday…

3 years ago today, a shy girl stood in the back right corner of a beginner hip-hop class. There, she met Giulia…. and spent an hour failing to pick up choreography designed to match Mary J. Blige’s “The One”. (What were you expecting? Magic? Gimme a break! It was my first hip-hop class.) The next week, the shy girl was more on the ball and almost picked up the choreography to “We Be Burnin’”. She was just starting to feel that taking hip-hop classes wasn’t a total mistake when Giulia announced that the class was going to be in a show come January. That’s when the class started to learn some Michael Jackson business… (shy girl or not, I will never be able to moonwalk convincingly) …but I digress…

3 years ago today I started something that wouldn’t exactly change my life but changed the me who was living my life. So, while usually this blog is about Giulia, Tripoli Studios and the dance world, because today is a special day for me, today I will write about myself (and eat cake).

As the poor souls who live in the apartment below mine can attest, I love to dance. When I manage to remember a choreography, I practice at home – usually in my living room, once in the shower (not recommended by the way). I practice in my car when stuck at red lights. (Most people who have pulled up next to me have been polite enough to avoid staring as I popped my chest and swung my arms back and forth over the steering wheel.) I even practice while walking down the empty hallways at work… actually I stopped this last one when I realized security cameras were catching my impromptu performances.

My point is I have never claimed to dislike dancing. I do, however, often complain about my own dancing. As it turns out, enjoying dancing and feeling comfortable with your own dancing abilities are two different things.

Despite the fact that going to dance class is now part of my routine, that I know most of the people in the class with me, and that I have come to realize that no one is actually watching me when I feel that I’m making a fool of myself (they are either watching themselves in the mirror or whoever is killing it in the front row), I still feel self-conscious walking into the studio.

Sidebar: Killing a choreography, being disgusting in a performance and destroying a class are all good things. Merriam-Webster has been advised.

Back to my insecurities… I avoid looking in the mirror, even during the warm-up. I still feel like a sham when dressed in baggy sweats, an oversized t-shirt and colorful high-tops. I cringe whenever the choreography requires movement that is even remotely sexual as the aforementioned outfit does not make me feel like I look sexy. (Let’s put it this way, I keep thinking I should put a picture of myself on the blog for comedic effect). I get frustrated when I ask Giulia to review a certain series of steps and she inevitably says “Jaime, it’s just walking” (an activity I apparently find quite difficult when paired with music). It’s scary to step into a situation where you know you are going to feel uncomfortable.

But it’s been 3 years and I keep going back.

Here’s why:

In my day-to-day life, I am Jaime – the kind of person who never quite feels comfortable just letting myself be myself. People tell me things and I know I am supposed to have a reaction but then I second-guess what my opinion should be. I personally think I am funny but I am genuinely surprised when other people laugh at my jokes. No matter the environment, I tend to feel the presence of this box that I’m not quite filling.

When I go to dance, I can be Jynx. Ok… I’ll admit it… I usually stick to the shy girl from 3 years ago. But every once in a while I let myself be silly, or serious, or sexy… or any other “s” word you can come up with. For an hour and a half, I am granted freedom to try on my other personalities, or someone else’s personality, if I so choose. I get to create the box I then try to fill. Sure, I’m not always 100% comfortable tapping into whatever self I happen to be feeling that day (anyone who has seen me turn beet-red after catching me in one of these moments can attest to that) but that gives me 99 other percents to play with…. Right?

Most surprisingly, this new-found freedom extends beyond dancing for me.

I have been writing since I learned how to form letters on a page. Other than some class work I was required to share, I never thought anyone would read my writing. I didn’t think anyone would care about how my words described the world. As it happens, my foray into dance has led me to this blog. This, in turn, has allowed me to share a pretty significant part of who I am with the public (at least with those who read the blog). Ironically, Jynx has given me a box that actually feels like Jaime. After reading one of my blog entries, Giulia’s mother texted to her “I think writing is to her what dance is to you”.

She is not wrong.

As the story goes, I decided I wanted to take dance classes after watching a studio’s year-end show. This was in May, when I had the comfort of 4 months standing between that thought and the actual commitment of going to class. But my brother signed me up, hand picking Giulia’s class because he knew I would like her style, and I found myself walking into a room full of strangers, aged 17 to 30-something, who had all come to learn to dance.

I am forever grateful to my brother for making me go through with my plan. If he hadn’t signed me up, I would have found ways to avoid registration. I would have never come into this world. I would have never met these inspiring people.

I would have never become Jynx.

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