• Dawn Bowden

Make Life the Dancer.

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

When I left Drama College I used the dance skills I had acquired from an early age to gain full Equity status. Equity is the professional union that oversees and protects the working rights of performers. I wasn’t the best dancer in the world but knew how to smile and that seemed to work in my favour.

The first choreographer I encountered was pretty fierce and because he hadn’t employed me (and could see past the smile) he gave me, from the outset, a very hard time. This was my very first job and I was very young.

The Saturday morning of the weekend prior to the dress rehearsal, I woke up with a sharp pain down the back of my leg, and what turned out to be a torn hamstring. In total fear of how the choreographer was going to react I decided to go check out the bus times with a plan to head home. I would deal with the aftermath of this somewhat unwise decision and breach of contract later!! Yes I was very young!!

On the way to the bus station I fortuitously bumped into the Costume Designer ; a lovely woman who had made a special effort to take care of the young dancers on the show. She noticed I was limping and could also see how worried I looked. She told me straight away to pack a bag. I could stay at hers and she would book an appointment with her physiotherapist first thing on Monday morning. She would also contact the choreographer to let him know.

I automatically felt safe. A woman in her forties, the costume designer seemed to know exactly what to say and do. She was not phased by the situation one bit. All these years later I can recall the fear I felt at that time. Young and inexperienced in life, I didn’t know then what I know now (and more than likely what the Costume Designer knew also) So what was it I didn't know?


Life is always going to throw out challenges. It doesn’t matter how much we hide, avoid or in my case run away from situations, the ‘Choreographer’ will always find us.

However... what if we stop letting LIFE tell us which way to pirouette and at what speed? What if WE create the dance? This may seem simplistic and like I am suggesting that we all just ‘Human Up’, but it isn’t about BEING ‘strong’. It’s not that at all. It’s about FINDING strength through the stillness we have within us and approaching situations from a position of consciousness and calm.

'Life is the Dancer and you are the Dance' - Ekhart Tolle

Had I known then what I know now I wouldn’t have tried to hop on the next bus home. I would have acknowledged the fact that there are some people in life who will always give you a hard time; recognised that the injury was not my fault and approached the choreographer myself with the rationality that comes with a calm mind.

It was my first job and I WAS young but wouldn't it be better if we knew these things earlier? Why wait for maturity to kick in before life begins to feel better? The more we share and teach young people that we can take control of life by finding inner stillness the better things will be for them and their children as they grow up. It is not possible to change the past but we can affect our future and the futures of our children.

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