The 4-year-old wisdom in us

Listening to a podcast interview of Yo Yo Ma, the world renowned cellist, I had a flashback. At the age of 4, he dropped the violin classes and went for cello. Through a negotiation with his parents, he wanted to play an upright bass after seeing it in the Paris Music Conservatory. They compromised on a cello. At the age are we closest to knowing what we innately want? I recalled one of my earliest memories of wishing on a star to become a ballerina. I had this wish, but did not take any action steps. To this day I never have taken a ballet class in my life. I did not start taking dance classes until my 20’s when I was in graduate school.

I’ve always enjoyed dance, and at various periods of my life have felt quite compelled bu the beauty of it. It was in my blood, but certain dances pulled me more than others. Belly dancing, Salsa, and African Caribbean dance overtook my heart more than hip hop, hula, or modern dance. For the past several years dance has not been a frequent part of my life, but these past 7 months I have taken up flamenco and burlesque. They have not consumed my life, but they have been assisting to bringing me closer to my authentic self and heightening my confidence levels.

Both of these dances require a fierce attitude of Assertiveness and strong intentionality. One does not walk, but strut. These dancers demand attention for their presence in a room. Facial expressions are representative of the internal monologue that must play in one’s head of being sexy, strong, and untouchable. It’s reminiscent of this line I read from a book that you must dress as if you want to be f*ck#d. Not just for the sole fact that you want others to desire you, but for you to desire yourself. You are worthy of this. And to be a flamenco or burlesque dancer, this mentality must become a mantra in some ways.

In both of these dances, the posture one takes is a very Wonder Woman-esque. It’s like exactly a power pose that Amy Cuddy discusses in her Ted talk. Standing in this position for two minutes a day will build confidence. And I can concur it does.

As previously discussed in an earlier blog post, I had my first dance recital ever for flamenco. Although it wasn’t as glorious as I thought it would be, I was proud I did this. Upon waking this morning, I recalled a dream in which I was dancing burlesque with other family members, friends, and colleagues. There was no instructor, but I was coaching those who were apprehensive in their movements to take this Beyonce-esque mentality. The rest of the dream was very celebratory, as if we were all at some massive wedding. But there was no bride or groom, the reason we were gathered together was simply to dance. The power and confidence of dance was now invading my dreams.

And so as I listened to Yo Yo Ma, I thought of all this and started to tear up. How did I know at the age of 4 what brought me joy? Why have I kept this out of my life for so long? What has been keeping me from having dance be a stronger part of my life?

It saddens me a bit. Were our childhood dream jobs really that ridiculous? Was intuition greatest at our youngest age and our earliest memories? Why and how did we forget our loves? It’s as if our childhood passions were replaced with more realistic and “responsible”career paths that would lead to financial independence. To want to be a dancer wasn’t really a logical option, and therefore my family and I never invested money or time into this hobby.

I am nearing the end co completing the Artist Way. I thought what would continue to line my pages and life over the past few months is writing. Although writing is there, what has been arising is my fascination with the lives of Picasso and Frida Kahlo , and dance. I have begun to dance everyday, even if it’s just when I put butter on my toast in the morning. Dance has become such a focal point in my life now, and is infiltrating other aspects.

Below is a link to the podcast with Yo Yo Ma that was aired recently on Krista Tippet’s On Being.

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