I Hope You’ll Dance
By Life Designer ™ Julie Reisler, MA | Coach | Inspirational Speaker | Author www.juliereisler.com
From age 5–16, I loved to dance. You could find me in a leotard balancing on my toes after a grande plie, rocking out my kick-ball-change and jazz hands to Flashdance or warming up at the barre for point. I was a dancer through and through. My Dad’s famous words: “You need a hook to get Julie off the stage.” Dancing was my love. I felt alive, self-expressed and joyful beyond belief. I dreamt of being in the 1980’s Solid Gold dancing group. Every imaginary friend was a dance teacher or ballet dancer. I found my soul in moving to music.
Dancing had been my sacred experience of release and self-love, especially since I was the tallest in my class, had boobs way before anyone else and was definitely a larger size than most girls my age.
All of this love came to a screeching halt on a chilly September day, two months before I turned 17. Within a two minute conversation, I went from feeling enlivened, in love with life and thrilled with my ability to move — to complete shame, embarrassment, vulnerability and self-loathing. After a double hitter of a classical ballet and point class, back to back, I was pulled aside by my esteemed teacher, Miss Patricia, only to be told that while I clearly tried hard, I was too large, too heavy, too tall — too everything — to be a real ballerina. I did love food and had already struggled big time with emotional overeating (i.e., eating over any emotions, binge eating in secret and many moments of body shame). She told me I should probably discontinue dancing since it was obvious I was not cut out to be a real dancer.
What I also heard was that I was an embarrassment to her, I was not good enough nor ever would be and didn’t have talent. It was that day I believed her words and ended my dancing classes. On that day, I lost a piece of myself.
In college, I desperately wanted to take an elective ballet class, for fun but dared not since I knew I would be an embarrassment to myself. For the next 20 years, I stopped doing what I loved and ceased to dance. Time passed and I felt grief and loss as though I had lost a dear friend. In a way, I had — I had lost a part of myself.
It wasn’t until I was in a transformational personal development weekend program where I woke up and realized I had been living my life as though there was actual truth to Miss Patricia’s words. In fact, I could see I believed the story of ‘not being good enough’ in many other areas of life as well. When I pulled the story apart, like unravelling a ball of yarn, I realized that there was no real efficacy to what she said. I had been living like she was right on the mark.
It occurred to me that I could actually start dancing again. What ensued after that eye opening weekend was nothing short of a blessing and breakthrough. I signed up the next week for a ballet class at a nearby dance studio. I cried my entire way through the warm up. I began to feel a re-connectedness to my essence. I then signed up for jazz, modern dance, hip-hop and belly dancing — any dance class I could fit in. Feeling like I was reconnecting with the little girl in me that had been shut down for way too long, I couldn’t get enough dancing. It was magical. Soulful. Lots of tears were shed.
I danced back to myself and made a vow not to allow other’s thoughts of me to dictate how I’d live my life. I realized I was not only good enough (if there is such a thing) but that it’s my purpose to help others see where they are living out a story of someone else’s words and to help them rewrite their story. I have a thriving coaching and inspirational speaking business today doing just that.
And, today I am a certified barre instructor, I teach pilates and a barefoot dance program — and I sure as heck know that no matter what my size is, I will always be a dancer.