Every dancer has probably heard at least part of this conversation at some point in time, most likely more than once:
New Person: What do you do/what's your major/what's your hobby?
You: I'm a dancer.
New Person: Oh my gosh, that's so cool! What kind of dance do you do?
You: ...oh...a little bit of everything. Ballet, jazz, modern (maybe tap, contemporary, hip hop, ballroom, etc).
New Person: So cool! I wish I could dance.
The dreaded "what kind of dance do you do?," sometimes followed by the "I wish I could dance," or some variation of those two phrases. I've found it increasingly hard to answer the first and respond to the latter.
Why? First of all, if your major is Biology, do I ask you whether it's molecular, cellular, or marine? Not really, no. I suppose that's not really a fair comparison, because Dance is a "unique and exciting" major. They don't realize that dancers rarely train in single styles anymore - most dancers today are cross-discipline (although you dedicated ballerinas, modern dancers, various hip hop artists - you go. You're all awesome). That I'll give them - it's an art form that very few people have the talent and determination to excel in. But that brings me to the second part - the people who ask the first question rarely consider the weight and meaning of the "I wish" statement.
I've said before that if I could go back to the Creator and ask him to change my true passion in life, I would do it in a heartbeat. As much as I love dance, dance doesn't love too many people back. It's a hard, harsh, demanding, demeaning, short-lived life that is filled with a lot less glory than 99% of the population (the people who say "wow, I wish I could dance") thinks. Sure, it's an unusual job in that your life is active and constantly changing (as opposed to a desk job). But if I could find passion in computer programming, do you think I'd stay a dancer?
But then I try to set my pessimism aside. Whoever I'm talking to doesn't mean to aggravate me with the question. They don't know that I've trained in many different styles and that I don't really know what specific style I want to do in my future. And they most certainly don't do so much thinking into the "I wish I could dance" that it seems like a backhanded compliment.
And if I really think about it, dance is unique. They say that emotions are best let out through activity: sports, jogging, weights, biking, dog-walking, etc. They say that art is a window to the soul. They say that it takes smarts to be at the top of any profession. They say that a job is only a job if you don't love it, that you can be paid to play and create. They say that fitness and fulfillment of the mind, body, and soul is the way to a long, happy, healthy life. Maybe dance does have something over everything else.
Revelations aside, the dreaded Question and "I wish" are still hard to respond to.