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November Dancer of the Month – Christine Kern

If you read our blog on a regular basis, you will notice that Christine Kern from Erie, Pennsylvania, is not one of our typical dancers of the month. She is a 50-year-old freelance writer, editor, and educator as well as being a musician and a dancer. She spent almost 20 years teaching history in higher education before turning to freelancing. She also works as a legal assistant part-time. She is married and they have a clouder of cats (5 in all), so they call their home The Menagerie. She says that she has a wicked but subtle wit. Christine is also an empath and healer. She says her life, like dance, is full of complexity and expression.

Christine has always loved to dance, and when she was a child of 4, all she wanted to be in life was a dancer, figure skater, or gymnast. At 6 years old, she took her first formal dance class – a ballet class – with a roomful of nasty, wealthy girls who body shamed her so badly that she never returned to dance as a child. Though she continued to dance at weddings and parties and clubs, she was convinced that she did not have a dancer’s body and therefore should keep it reined in. When she was in her 40’s, Christine met a woman who started teaching Yoga Dance™. Christine attended her classes and finally was feeling comfortable in her own skin and expression. Though she had to stop those classes for a while, in January she came back to that teacher, who now has created BodyPoetics™, a system of self-expression, self-awareness, and movement based on the joy of being in the body and in the moment. When Christine started dancing again in January, she was having serious knee issues that meant she was confined to dancing from a chair. She developed a daily movement practice that now includes 45 minutes of movement daily and has resulted in the loss of almost 30 pounds and 3 pants sizes. She also fights a lot of chronic pain, and ironically, the only time she is pain-free is during her movement sessions. The most important part of this transformation is that it is joy-based. Now, she knows she is a dancer because EVERYBODY is a dancing body. #Iamdancerseemetwirl

Her happiest moment related to dance was the moment that she realized that those childhood body shamers were WRONG and that she is a dancer. Christine has been posting her progress on Facebook since she started in January, first in a “secret” Facebook group of women, and then on her personal page (on Facebook as Chris Colin Kern). She started getting a lot of feedback about how inspirational her posts are to so many women. She was posting her video just to hold herself accountable and keep doing the work – which is critical to her – and she had no idea that other women would find it so inspiring. She related that when she was nominated as BDancewear’s Dancer of the Month, she was amazed and thought, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” And then the women in her circle took over and made sure that she had enough votes to actually BECOME the Dancer of the Month because it symbolizes such great things. First, as a woman of 50, it demonstrates that dancers exist at any age, and that dance is about being in the body and being in the moment to express the range of emotions that is life. Also, she represents the reality that EVERYBODY, regardless of age, size, or shape is a dancer at heart. She has claimed her dancing space, and she refuses to relinquish it. Finally, it illustrates the transformative power of dance, as demonstrated by her journey this past year.

She has always dreamed of being a dancer, and now she knows that she has always been one. She has been working on building her movement repertoire and would eventually like to be able to do handstands again. At age 50, it’s not as easy as it was when she was 18, but she is working on strengthening her shoulders so that she can do it once again. She loves to dance to swing, jazz, country, and blues music, and she would love to learn how to swing dance formally.

When Christine started her daily movement commitment, she wanted to be sure to get the right equipment to do the job right. So, she searched the internet, looking for pretty dancewear to help her. She was a bit discouraged because it is very difficult to find plus-sized dance outfits anywhere. She found lots of leggings and tunics – which she also wears for some sessions – but she really wanted a leotard and skirt to feel like the ballerina she had always wanted to be. Then, she found BDancewear, and she felt like a kid in a candy store. She was thrilled to see that they offered extended sizes, and the range of color, fabric, and style options was impressive. She was so thrilled with the purple leotard and skirt that she ordered from BDancewear for use in her daily movement practice! She says that they are definitely quality materials and they feel and look amazing! In fact, she told her husband that she wanted another set for Christmas! They make all the difference in the world when she is approaching her daily practice. Joy works wonders, and being able to wear the right clothing to do her sessions also helps a lot!

She is working to make herself a stronger dancer, pushing the boundaries and learning new moves. She would eventually like to perform on stage as a dancer since part of her journey has been an effort to truly be seen and to claim her\ space.

She hopes dance takes her to a healthy, medicine-free place of joy and happiness where she can express herself freely with those around her. Apparently, she has already inspired a large number of women with her journey, and she would like to continue that work. Christine believes there is not enough love and joy in the world today, so if she can do some small part in expanding those, it would be a significant contribution

6 comments

  1. Wendy Molnar says:

    You go out there and twirl, girl!!! You are such an inspiration to all of us, Chris. Thank you, thank you, Thank You!!!

  2. Laurie Ross says:

    Such a powerful story! Thank you for sharing your journey, Christine!

  3. Ellen Tillman says:

    You are an inspiration to me, as well. I was never body shamed as a child for being large–more for being shapeless. When I took on regular exercise, though, I did it solely to make my joints stop hurting so much.
    That said, I’ve now turned 40 and had a late-in-life child, and have not felt great about my body for some time–either for the pain in my joints or for the way I look. Watching what you’ve done is more inspiration than I can say, and I thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  4. Ellen Tillman says:

    You are an inspiration to me, as well. I was never body shamed as a child for being large–more for being shapeless. When I took on regular exercise in my 30s, though, I did it solely to make my joints stop hurting so much.
    That said, I’ve now turned 40 and had a late-in-life child, and have not felt great about my body for some time–either for the pain in my joints or for the way I look. Watching what you’ve done is more inspiration than I can say, and I thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  5. Ellen Tillman says:

    Your muscle tone is outstanding and you are beautiful… and the dancewear is also beautiful, and looks great on you 🙂

  6. Linda Soto says:

    You are such an amazing inspiration to those of us of a certain age and not so typical body when it comes to dance.
    Thank you for your courage and dedication.
    #danceeveryfreakenday 💖