Stepping into the shower this evening, I glanced down and noticed some foreign lines marring my bareness. Invisible leotard straps and criss-crossing pointe shoe ribbons wrapped their ghostly paths around my shoulders and ankles, in their wake a trail of redness and a transparent echo of my daily uniform. Three hours had passed since the last rehearsal of the day, but there the lines of my dancewear remained, stamped on my skin like a calling card. Ignoring the steam that now poured from my overripe shower, I traced the lines in my ankle, wondering how a ribbon so soft could cause such a dent. Like a ringing in the depths of my eardrums, the longer I focused on the interloping lines, the harder it became to distinguish their origin; Were they really the product of some external force, or were they manufactured within, existing all along and just bracing for the most perfectly random moment to surface? Right on cue, a bottle of shampoo fell from its shelf, splashing its way into the hollow tub, disrupting my existentilism and urging me not to abandon it there. Appeasing that impatient shampoo, I pushed past the shower curtain and tested the scalding stream with my toes, finally considering the imminent eradication of the ghost lines, soon to meet their watery demise. It was then that I realized, these lines were more than just grooves in my skin; They’re a literal representation of how closely my work follows me home each night.
Some people think that a dancer’s job pauses when they leave the studio, but they couldn’t be more wrong. It exists in every health-consious meal, every exhausted shower, every early Saturday morning, and every excruciating ice bath. It circles our ankles, scales our tired backs, and spills from our every pour at the end of each day, sticking to the air around us and resonating like that catchy song you just can’t quit humming. “Dancer” isn’t just a job…it’s an identity.
It is a funny thing how our jobs and our hobby’s are reflected in our bodies. As a dancer the calluses on my feet show how much time I spend in my heels and pointe shoes, not to mention that I walk turned out which non dancers don’t do. But I also have marks from being a musician, my hands have knuckles that are much wider than they need to be. No matter what field you are in, your body will reflect what you do. I am grateful that the signs on my body are at least from work that I enjoy, I bet you feel the same.
Thank you for your comment, Sarah. What a beautiful way of looking at it- we are so lucky to have these visible reminders of our dedication to work that we love, no matter what the art form. I never thought about the fact that musicians bodies’ change to reflect their instruments as well, and similarly, visual artists must develop all kinds of calluses on their hands from different tools…very interesting thoughts. Thank you for sharing.