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Identity Crisis! To Be Or NotTo Be

Posted by [email protected] on August 28, 2019 at 4:40 PM


After being a professional dancer and instructor for over 40 years I realized the pain that I had been feeling for the past 5 years was not going away. I had been ignoring the signs of an aging dancer. I had never stopped dancing. Had never taken time off. In fact even vacations were always dance vacations. Then it dawned on me that this is the beginning of the end of my dance career. At some point in our lives all dancers face this in one form or another.




So, I cut back. Started just coaching instead of teaching classes. Cut back on teaching workshops when I broke my right big toe 3 days before a workshop in San Diego. Taught the first day in excruciating pain. The next day it was a no can do. My husband ended up running the class for me. Figured a rest and healing of my foot would take care of it. Guess what? I was wrong! The pain did get better with rest of both the foot and the Periphiral Neuropathy. I did learn that I was overdoing things and that by letting up some the pain eased off.




Our lives are intertwined forever. In life, in love and in our careersMorwenna & Walid




At first it was nice, no pressure but then I realized things were not getting done. I really had no idea what to do with myself. I felt lonely. I was terrified! Who am I? I felt like I had lost everything. I did not know who I was. I was losing everything. Or at least anything that meant anything to me. Although unplanned, it made me think seriously about my career and what I really wanted out of life at this time of my life. It has left me in a situation where I am dealing with insurance, doctors, and unable to pay bills. I realize I am not a kid anymore. Had my 79th birthday last week. So I have had to ask, what do I really want?




These are all questions that need to be answered.




  1. What do I do with myself? - What other dance related things can I do? Movement classes like Pilates, Somatics or Yoga. Nutrition has always been a thing I was interested in. Writing dance books and blogging. learn podcasting and video casting. Prepare for retirement show in Ct next April
  2. Give yourself space to rest. - Get healthy again.
  3. Stay involved with dance in other ways? Writing is one way. Running things on line. Taking a trip to Lebanon again to do research. Help husband set up his side of the business. Talk to other dancers.
  4. Remove yourself entirely? - This is not an option for me. How about you?
  5. Stay on a schedule - As a dancer and teacher our lives are very regimented. Structure your days. This helps combat symptoms of depression.
  6. Celebrate small victories? - Mentally maintain a sense of momentum. Somatics are my main source of exercises which keeps me sane. I need to move and it is healthy for me.
  7. Find other creative outlets? - Write, blog, paint, podcast, sing. Use the same amount of energy you used in the dance
  8. Cross-train? - Do something physical. Again somatics, pilates or yoga. Look for ways to keep your body in shape and moving forward. Use it or lose it!
  9. Find a group? Do not allow yourself to get isolated. Find a friend or group that holds your interest. Even a book club.
  10. Take advantage of the time off. - Take classes, socialize Build other parts of your personality regardless of age.







Yes, this is my future plan for my retirement. No more classes. Coaching instead. I am done running from state to state teaching. Yes, even country to country. I have loved every moment of it but now it is too exhausting. I look at what is written above and realize I have so many choices to make and still be in the dance I love so. I have had a wonderful career and do not regret one moment of it. It is time for family and loved ones. I thank God for my love of this dance form, my talent and the people it has brought into my life. It will always be a part of me.




So anyone who is going through a similar situation. Sit down and ask yourself the above questions. Turn yourself around and see where you can be aiming. By being calm and rational you can find the answers. Yes, sometimes one has to dig deep. But, the answers are there, inside you. The only thing I ask is that you treat dance with respect. There is a time when we each have to step aside and leave the stage and classroom to the younger ones we have trained. We leave its destiny in their hands. Our job is done. I have done my best and hope you have too. That is all that is important. Yes, I am still a dancer at heart.







Written by Morwenna Assaf, owner/Choreographer and Producer of Art/Dance Academy-El Fen, being located in Jefferson County, TN., Oceanside, CA & South Eastern MA and Rhode Island. 760-715-2276
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Categories: Dance History, Dance , Ethnic Dance

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