“I’m Scared of Going Back” by Company Dancer, Sanjay Saverimuttu

A profile photo of Company Dancer Sanjay Saverimuttu
Company Dancer Sanjay Saverimuttu, photo by Sam English

*A note: Sanjay first published this piece on his own website and personal blog. We fully support Sanjay’s work and expression of anxiety, frustration, and fear so many of us, especially performing artists, are experiencing as we make the hard decisions to balance safety with the art and artistry that define so much of our lives. This work is published here with his permission. 

I’m scared of going back
I’m scared of looking at myself in a mirror
I’m scared of dancing on marley or in ballet shoes
I’m scared of dancing in a mask
I’m scared I won’t pick up choreography like I used to
I’m scared of jumping
I’m scared I’ll be extremely out of shape

I’m scared this will mind f**k with my body dysmorphia
I’m scared I’ll make unhealthy decisions to control the way I look (again)
I’m scared I won’t love myself
I’m scared I’ll never regain what I lost in these last five months
I’m scared of losing the momentum I was gaining in my career
I’m scared of being too weak
I’m scared of getting injured
I’m scared they won’t care

I’m scared I wasted this entire time in quarantine
I’m scared any wasted moment showcases the lack of commitment I have to my career
I’m scared they will use this an excuse not to invest in me as a dancer anymore
I’m scared I’ll be dumb enough to believe it
I’m scared this next season of transition will be the hardest of my career
I’m scared this next year will further amplify the things I hate about my job
I’m scared I’ll regret not retiring sooner
I’m scared I’ll fall out of love with one of my greatest loves
I’m scared I won’t even care

I’m scared of theaters and performance spaces going under
I’m scared I’ll never perform on a stage again
I’m scared I’ll never perform with an orchestra again
I’m scared I won’t have a career
I’m scared of being non-essential
I’m scared of my art form dying
I’m scared of all the arts dying
I’m scared what I love most about Louisville will be gone
I’m scared audiences will believe they can live without us
I’m scared you won’t check in on me
I’m scared I might not deserve your attention

I’m scared of touching other people
I’m scared of losing partnering skills
I’m scared I won’t be able to lift someone
I’m scared I will fear my friends and colleagues
I’m scared of losing trust in the ones I care the most for
I’m scared I will blame someone for something they can’t control
I’m scared of them getting it
I’m scared someone they love will get it
I’m scared going back might be a mistake
I’m scared that I’m being reckless
I’m scared that we’re being self-centered
I’m scared of being the example

I’m scared of teaching the next generation
I’m scared I won’t be good enough to teach them in these conditions
I’m scared I won’t be the example of resilience they need
I’m scared they’ll lose the joy they had for dancing
I’m scared they will all quit
I’m scared they or their parents will see the fragility of our art
I’m scared I won’t blame them
I’m scared we’ve missed our opportunity to make an impact

I’m scared I’ll become complacent
I’m scared I will no longer speak out against injustice
I’m scared of not getting a raise
I’m scared I’ll “just be grateful to have a job”
I’m scared they’ll use this against me
I’m scared Black Lives won’t Matter anymore
I’m scared our industry won’t change
I’m scared there will be no space for me
I’m scared this was all just an act
I’m scared I’m having these thoughts
I’m not scared of getting Covid.
I’m scared of the fear it has caused.

Read more pieces by Sanjay and find out about his career and choreography in his own voice via his personal website and blog. Watch a film capture of a performance of his 2019 Louisville Ballet #ChorShow work, “Amid Exes and Whys,” here