Walking out of dance class, drenched in sweat and clutching your water bottle, you smell the aroma from a nearby restaurant and begin your mad dash to get home, shower, and re-emerge as a goddess, ready for your dinner date.

Tonight you are feeling especially exuberant.

In the shower, the sound of your singing voice reminds you of class and how good you feel to finally be dancing again. Why did you wait so long to reunite with your first true love?

Now, as a busy, over-worked adult caring for your family, career, and household, you realize that your recent reintroduction to the dancer inside of you makes you feel excited and happy again, powerful, and grateful that you didn’t let a single additional day go by without dancing again.

Yesterday you even snuck out on your lunch break and bought a new dress.

You couldn’t help it!

Because that morning, for the first time in… years honestly… James had said, “maybe we should get a babysitter and go out to eat at The Barn one night this week.” <gasp>

It’s been years since we celebrated our wedding anniversary there. Or had any kind of date night!

“Wow. I’d love that,” you instantly replied, “I’ll see if Alison can babysit.”

Despite a busy schedule at work, full of meetings, you had then ducked out, gotten lucky, and found a gorgeous pale blue dress that hugged your hour-glass waist in a way you haven’t seen since before Annie was born. Twirling in the three-way mirror, you decided to buy it without even looking at the price tag – some things are simply priceless.

Like the look on James’ face when you walked out ten minutes after your shower tonight, right as he sat down to wait those last 20 minutes when you typically panicked trying to find something to wear that didn’t make you cry. Nope, not tonight.

Tonight, in pale blue, your toned waistline made it easy to look stunning when you walked out of your red-carpet bathroom like the goddess you were always meant to be.

“Wow! You look amazing!” (his first compliment in maybe 5 years???) “Thank you!” you say with a smile and a twinkle.

“Mommy’s so pretty,” Annie says, peeking around the corner. “You look like a princess,” she says as she runs in to hug your leg.

“That’s a new dress” your son says flatly (nothing lost on this kid). “Why are you guys so dressed up?” he inquires.

“We just decided to have a little date night, sweetie” you say, just as Alison arrives to let you begin the process of extracting yourselves from the house.

A sweet drive later you find yourselves seated at The Barn, enjoying every delicious bite that melts in your mouth.

Eyes closed, slowly chewing and savoring, you wonder, “How in the world did the chef create this masterpiece?”

"The secrets are in the ingredients," the waitress whispers. Oops. You must have asked your question aloud.

You notice next how James is looking at you with a sweet smile on his face. Haven’t seen that sweet smile in a long, long time. Blushing, you feel like you are glowing in the unexpected reflection of his long-missed attention.

“You seem happy lately,” he says. “It’s good to see.” How unusual for him to engage in emotional talk. Honestly, you didn’t think he really cared all that much about how you felt about things.

Suddenly you feel sad, realizing it has been a hard decade, focused primarily on the kids and careers, and working with him mainly as a co-parent rather than as the happy lovers you used to be…

Sitting here, seeing his older face smiling at you, you realize your marriage has survived.

Tears. Suddenly. Appear. Hold them back, hold them back, you tell yourself…

With a shaky voice you respond, “yeah, I’m feeling good about things.” He is looking at you steadily (not looking away). Sweet smile. “I’m feeling good,” you reiterate softly.

Restaurant managers always manage to interrupt important moments. Ever notice that? They just walk right up during a tender exchange and interrupt to ask the all-important, urgent question of how your restaurant experience is. You want to say, “It was great until you interrupted us,” but of course, like a good girl, you say, “It’s great. Thank you.”

As he lingers, you add, “My dinner is excellent. Our waitress said the secrets are in the ingredients.” Interestingly, the restaurant manager has a different take on it: "Ahh, partly, but it's also the magical way in which our chef combines those ingredients," he teases, as he walks away… 

“How’s yours?” you ask, as James finishes cleaning his plate. “Great!”

Trying to get back to that emotional connection, you say, “I’m really glad I started dancing again. I really love it. I hope you don’t mind watching the kids while I take class.”

Two months ago you had started taking an adult dance fitness class three days a week, and as you say this, you are really hoping he is cool with covering the kids as you take this time for yourself… This fitness class was designed for former ballet dancers like yourself, and it has reawakened your love of dance, helped you lose weight and tone up, and honestly, it might be the reason your emotional funk has lifted as well.

“No – that’s fine. Annie, Stevie, and I have been walking the dogs all around the neighborhood when you’re in class. It’s actually been fun doing that together.” 

“Oh good!” you exclaim. “Thank you! I just love being able to go to these classes! They are so inspiring and fun! They’re super challenging, but I love them….” You begin to babble on about them until he finally says, “what makes them so good? You’ve tried other classes in the past, but what is it about these classes?”

“Dessert anyone?” Another interruption. “We have chocolate fudge cake, cheesecake…” Without hesitation you decide to split a piece of chocolate cake. Tonight you are splurging. It feels like a celebration.

Once your cake is set down on the table between you, you immediately go for the frosting corner, while he goes for the cake part.

Your mind wanders as you close your eyes and savor the tasty moment. Wanting to answer his last question, you think back on the exhilarating class you took earlier today. You recall how it started with the “Choreography Review,” the 10 minutes at the start of class when you are shown the choreographic ingredients that will be used during the hour. Once the music starts, your instructor then begins to take you on a journey for the remainder of the hour. It is as if you learned/gathered your ingredients at the beginning of class, and then, once the music started, began following her step-by-step through the recipe. By the end of class, you have created, together, a one-hour masterpiece!

"It's both!" you suddenly blurt out. “It’s both the ingredients and the recipe!”

James looks at you, surprised but amused by your sudden, passionate outburst.

“Just like our dinner, it’s the same for my dance class! What makes it so great are a few spicy ingredients that are combined with a perfectly timed, magical recipe!" 

You continue. “That’s why I love these classes. At the beginning of class the teacher shows us the specific choreography we’ll be doing. She names all these little phrases of choreography. They’re cute names – they are designed to tell a story. Each of her masterclasses has a theme. We have no idea how she is going to put the ingredients together once the music starts. We follow her for the entire hour. She just takes us on a magical journey. All the choreography comes together like a clever puzzle. It is fascinating! And I don’t even have to memorize anything because she dances with us the whole time and calls out the steps as we go. It uses all of my dance training – ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop – and then toward the end, she lowers us to the ground and leads us through the toning exercises. It’s exhilarating. I just love it.”

“Well I am happy it makes you happy,” he says.

“Thank you, baby.”  Our eyes lock for a second.

Putting down his fork, he says, “Okay I’m done. The rest is yours.”

As you take that last bite, you realize the sweetness of chocolate cake is nothing compared to the sweetness of your date, your conversation, your reconnection, and the domino effect that rediscovering the goddess dancer inside you has had on your life.


 Jules Szabofounder of The Dancer’s Workout® (TDW) is a classically trained ballerina from the UNC School of the Arts and former corporate executive who helps busy working women, mothers, and empty nesters rediscover their love of dance. She specializes in the paraprofessional dancer (adult ballet, jazz, and contemporary dancers who are not beginners and not professionals, who simply love dance over other forms of exercise). Featured among Dance Magazine's recommended online dance programs, The Dancer's Workout® classes were designed to provide former dancers an emotionally and physically safe path back to dance and to help current adult dancers and dance instructors achieve their daily fitness goals through dance. If you are a current or former dancer, you are invited to come dance with us.

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