I turned 49 two days ago and in many ways I feel nothing like a 49-year old. Yet I’ve started learning a new dance form and it makes me feel distinctly middle-aged. Although I have dabbled in a number of hip hop styles over the past six years, last October I started regularly attending breaking sessions. In some ways it’s not such a smart move on my part. It’s really tough on hip, knee and ankle joints and you need a lot of upper body strength to pull off even relatively simple freezes. There just happen to be a lot of breakers in Philly where I live and I interact with breakers through my work and research, therefore this is the style I have ended up committing to. As someone who is pretty goal-oriented, I soon realized I would need to re-think my approach to this dance. I am certain I will never be able to pull off the majority of challenging power moves and freezes, and I doubt I will ever have the confidence to battle or jam. That aside, I absolutely love doing it. It is both humbling and humiliating to learn a brand new dance style later in life, and I am learning to focus on process over outcomes. I accept I will need to practice even the absolute basics for a very long time as none of it comes easily. My youngest son breaks too and he soaks it up like a little sponge without the slightest hint of effort. I meanwhile have to practice frequently, visualize and imagine it, think about it a lot, and constantly ask for help. I am overwhelmed by how generous the other dancers have been. The majority are at least twenty-five years younger, but they are courteous, encouraging and only too willing to help. While most are male, I have become close to three young b-girls, all of whom are beginners and I love it when we compare notes, share achievements, and offer support. Although I have experienced one utterly embarrassing injury, numerous moments when I fall flat on the floor, calloused hands, aching joints, and exhaustion like I’ve never known, I have kept a journal that shows me I have made progress. My six-step is now relatively clean and I can switch from a baby into a turtle freeze on my right side. That’s not the important thing though. Doing it just makes me happy.
I would love to know if other PoP MOVERS have taken on new dance forms later in life or if you have tried to learn a new style that radically departs from what your body currently knows.