When I reflect on my childhood as a dancer, I think about holding my breath. I’d finish a routine with my palms outstretched to an imagined audience and look down to see my forearms, red with effort and lack of oxygen. I remember my dance teacher, compact and imposing, telling me I needed to breathe. But with my muscles tightened into an arabesque or caught in the momentum of a series of turns, I could never figure out how. Every intake of air felt like bracing for something, and I couldn’t breathe out until that something had safely passed.
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