Farewell, Darcey

She has been my idol all my life.  I found ways to use her as my subject many a high school essay.  If I could be like anyone in the world, I know immediately it would be Darcey Bussell. She is the epitome of all I have worked for and dreamed of all my life. Although she is the impossible, the near image of perfection, there is something human about her that makes me love her so.  Her impeccable technique and seamless movements consummate what I imagined real. What makes me love her so much more than any other prima ballerina is her sweet, humble spirit, as evident in interviews and books written about her. I like to think that if I meet her she would sit down and have tea with me and spare a few minutes so I could get a glimpse into her rich inner world of beauty. Just a side note…I would hope that I emulate that serene peace when I dance because of the hope I have within me from trusting in a mighty God – I don’t know whether Darcey has that or not. I hope that when I get that chance I have the courage to ask her about her life, about her illustrious stage career. If I ever held that position of esteem I would want all the little girls who were in awe of me to not be afraid to come crawl in my lap and look into my eyes and dream the dream through me then be inspired to go live it themselves.

I wish I could have been in London for her farewell performance this past June 2009 at Convent Garden. It would be a dream come true. I have only ever seen her in videos and we all know that diminishes the magic. I recall learning variations off videos of her as a young ballet student.  She has been esteemed worldwide. Darcey joined Royal Ballet of London at age 19 the year after I was born and enjoyed just over a 20 year career, gracing stages across Europe and the world.

Her farewell comes at a time where I am struggling with losing the identity I have always found in ballet. I have always been “the dancer” among friends and family. I shrink from being introduced as that now, because I am not living up to that standard. I had set backs in my career, and feel pretty stagnant right now. There are lots of disappointments, resentments, guilt and hurt paired with that dance life that make it so hard to go back and be involved in it fully again, yet the joy and peace and satisfaction that I get from dancing, when my heart and intentions are in it, make me feel so alive that I cannot live without it. It sounds sacrilegious to say that, but it is such a part of me I cannot starve it or distract myself from it for long. I love it. I cry when I talk about dance now because of the frustration I feel.  I have so many struggles going on inside my head, and there are other contributing factors as well, that I have an emotional block up against what I truly believe God made me to do. Am I in rebellion then? Am I being a poor steward of my talent by letting it lay waste? Or is there really something deeper God has called me to that I must be able to lay down all for Him including my love, my art? Then why did He create the very art I love, and put the passion and love for it in me. Christians would say I must turn it into thanksgiving and worship in order to be honoring God with my gift. But what if it doesn’t look the way they think it does? It must not be wrong to enjoy it, but I don’t want to be swallowed up in it. In ways, that lifestyle led me away from God by creating problems and obsessions in my life, yet it certainly lets me feel closer to God when I am doing what He created me to do. I used to feel such joy when I danced…but there were only tears and sadness.  It was never as free as I wanted it to feel. I figured once I perfected my technique, once I got that step right or lost 5 more pounds, my dancing would feel more free. I haven’t found it. There must be something missing. There must be another way.

I have to trust, that this time is for growth and healing and I will return to my first love. It’s either that, or a complete change in direction; stop dancing and have kids, start a pilates studio, move to New Zealand. I can’t shake the all-or-nothing feeling. I won’t settle for mediocre. all in or all out. Does it have to be this way? Is it healthy? Where does my relationship and life devoted to God fit into this? I need time, much more time, to sort through all these feelings.

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3 responses to “Farewell, Darcey

  1. I once had a nervous breakdown when I was in an MFA choreography training program. It led to me nearly committing suicide because I believed that I could never choreograph to a high enough standard nor ever reach that next level in dance technique. My identity as a dancer was shattered and I wrecked my already crumbling relationships within the dance world. It took me several years of doing something completely different, in this case IT and CS, things that I was not good at, but didn’t need to be good at, before I could dare choreograph again. I finally presented in my first professional venue, but even now, I’m not so sure I could go back to the world of dance. What I have learned is that all the work and training comes back to help you in some form or another, at the very least the secret knowledge that when you’re in an open ballet class that you have some pedigree too.

    • Thank you for sharing that. I understand completely where you are coming from and I am so happy to hear that you were able to choreograph again. I don’t know that I can or will enter the dance world again either. I want to enter it in another way, a way that can help people and demonstrate God’s love. The ways he is healing me is what I want to tell people, be it through writing or dance…
      Please know that although we are dancers, and dance has defined us, that dance is not our identity.

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