It took Janet Carlson over a year of writing every Saturday and Sunday, eight hours each day, but the outcome was well worth it. Her recently published memoir, “Quick, Before The Music Stops” describes how ballroom dance rejuvenated every aspect of her life.
Carlson, currently a student at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio and dancing with studio owner and former Standard Dance Champion Darius Mosteika, found herself in a rut a few years ago. Although “on paper,” it seemed as if she had it all – a successful career as Health and Beauty editor for a high-end magazine, mother, and wife – there was something crucial missing from her life. She was, in her own words, in a “sleepwalking state.”
Ballroom dance changed all that. Having been a competitive ballroom dancer in her 20s, Carlson came back to life when she started dancing again in her 40s. As she rediscovered her love of dance, she also rediscovered her passion for life. While she was in the dance studio, taking notes on her lessons, she began writing down other observations on the parallels between dance lessons and life lessons, and the idea for a book was born. The result is a wonderful memoir of her midlife renewal found in dance, and how the lessons she learned in the studio transcended the dance floor.
“Quick Before The Music Stops” has been very well-received, reviewed by such notable publications as USA Today, the New York Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Bruno Collins, Fred Astaire Dance Studios National Dance Board Director, commented: "With insight and humor, Janet Carlson shares the joy, exhilaration and self-revelations that ballroom dancing has brought her. She draws the reader into her lessons, her partnerships, her life, and reveals how ballroom dancing reflects life and transforms it. Ms. Carlson captures the essence of ballroom dancing and how it intoxicates and captivates its participants like nothing else.”
How many of us, especially women, can relate to Carlson’s predicament? Trying to succeed at work while balancing the demands of family? Dashing around town after work to make sure your daughter gets to ballet on time and your son makes his football practice? Staying up until midnight making cupcakes for the third grade Halloween party? Needing to work late but knowing someone has to get home and pay the babysitter? A lot of women wonder - what happened to my own needs? My own interests? What happened to my sense of myself?
Maybe the answer is as simple as walking into a studio, and dancing out! In Carlson’s book, dancing is used as a metaphor for life, inspiring readers to find their center and balance. “It hasn’t been easy to make room in the schedule for my passion, but I have done it, because I’m certain now that it is necessary for life. This new period is rich – as rich in some ways as having my two children, because it has been a kind of birth – but it has also been painful thanks to the self-examination that dancing has provoked in me. And so, because of dance, I can say, unequivocally and gratefully, that I am alive at last,” she writes.