By Erica Minnich, CTFD Dancer-Client, Caroline H. Newhouse Scholarship Recipient
Dance. A five-letter word that seems so small but means so much to the person whose life it consumes. I cannot remember a day in my life that did not involve dance. From the moment it decided to show that ordinary little girls can become princesses with ethereal movements accompanied by enchanting soundtracks to my present day life; it is all I have known, built my life around, focused my energy toward, and obsessed my thoughts on. As I journeyed down the long road of a dancer’s career: the bumps, corners, and ever-changing paths, I realized I needed to find a peaceful outlet outside of that all-encompassing five-letter word. About seven years ago, I found yoga. It became my happy place. With the help of the CTFD Newhouse grant, I am on my way to becoming a certified yoga instructor. My end goal is to become a power yoga instructor, eventually owning my own yoga and dance studio.
I know as a dancer that our careers are limited by our age. The contract I currently hold is one playing a sixteen-year-old dancer. As I turn thirty-one this April, I acknowledge that I need to find a more stable form of income as my husband and I try to start a family of our own, and I know that I cannot look young forever, no matter how hard we all try. I have loved my dance career with all my heart, but the time has come for me to move forward. My first thoughts of having to give up something that I was so passionate about were heart wrenching, despite the aches and pains of an aging dancer’s body. As the past two years progressed, I began to practice yoga more intensely and I began teaching dance classes again at a local studio. The passion I found upon the island of my pink yoga mat inspired me to not only become a more aware individual, but it also gave me the courage to begin to explore what else my life and future career choices had to offer. By using the CTFD grant to get my yoga certification, I hope to give others through my teaching the peace, happiness, and inspiration I found on my yoga mat. Even as I teach dance, I would like to incorporate the correct alignment that I will learn through the yoga certification as well as the meditation techniques to strengthen those young dancers. This business is a tough business that takes resilience and stamina, physically and mentally. I hope to use yoga to teach fellow dancers, as well as non-dancers, how to handle those demands with compassion, awareness, and the inner strength found by practicing regularly. Like dance, it is a discipline. It is what I fell in love with and it has helped not just to heal my body, but also my soul from this tough business.
Yoga helped me become alive again.. It helped me get over a severe case of plantar fasciitis; a case so bad I almost had to quit dancing. It helped me stay positive through stressful situations of contract negotiations and auditions. It helped me take a moment, stop, breath, and realize what is important despite not knowing if you were to have a job after being injured. I plan on furthering my education by adding on the power yoga certification as well as continuing my education toward the 500-hour yoga alliance course. Knowing that my end goal is to own my own studio, I would like to get as much education as possible. After getting my certification, I will be able to teach yoga and continue making my dream come true while helping provide an income. And with that I can only end with two words. Humble. Grateful.