She was here. Now she is gone.
She has become her own fairy dustball: ethereal and magical and beautiful and true, emerging from the river of tears we leave behind in her absence. That's a fairy dustball situation - something of grace and something of sorrow.
My beloved soul sister is dead.
We met sometime around 2006. I had just moved to Los Angeles and was desperately looking for WHY I was even there. My mother had just died the previous year and I was still searching for my lost joy. One day while mindlessly scrolling, looking up who-knows-what online, I “happened" to come across the name of a class called core fusion. The name intrigued me. I went to take the class at exhale in Santa Monica. The class kicked my butt. I thought I’d never return. But I did.
I was intoxicated by the euphoric feeling and strength the classes gave me. I found solace in the spa and comfort in the familiar faces that attended the same classes day after day. Then came Jenifer. I marveled at her stretch. She had been a former ballerina with the New York City ballet and she still looked like she was dancing with the company — legs for miles, extension galore, an arch to die for, arms that at any moment were about to do port-de-bras.
Then after one class Jenifer asked, “Have you thought about teaching?”
“Teach?!? I can’t even TAKE the class!” I said.
She smiled. In that instant she knew I eventually would. That’s what soulmates do when you meet them. They can see all your talents, what you can do with them, your limitless potential, even when you have no clue. That was a fairy dustball moment - something of no faith and something of faith.
Within a year I was training under Jenifer to become a barre teacher.
Any teacher who has had Jenifer train them will tell you the same; she loved teaching. She loved knowing your unique essence and showing you how to use that in the classroom in order to bust through everyone's perception of what they thought they could do with their bodies.
She was meticulous. She gave notes on your class: the good and the not-so-good all carefully recorded with feedback on how to be better. So you could be inspired. So you could give more. In return, your commitment to embody the art of teaching — that’s what inspired HER. She mentored many teachers over the years — teachers that would become some of the best I have ever known.
Jenifer and I taught classes. Then, we'd take each other’s classes. She loved learning from me, and I from her. She loved learning period. Great teachers always do.
Whenever she felt anxious, Jenifer would call me. I’d call her when I felt no one else could understand. We cried together, but we mostly laughed. After class, she’d sip her champagne at the Shangri-La hotel and look out to the Pacific Ocean. I’d sip my tea. Then we’d smile in gratitude for each other.
We’d dance up a storm in the studio after her Saturday morning class. We’d play classical and jazz and pop and improv our hearts out. People would pause at the door and stare. Our dance was sweaty and fierce and full of love. Dance was our healer and the studio our sanctuary. We called the dance in. We also freely gave it out.
Jenifer felt into the deepest of crevices; she felt into the highest of gentle breezes. She could feel the sadness of a student, or the joy, or the pain, or the bliss. She'd put her hands on a rib cage to extend the side stretch. She'd pull the bottom of a foot to lengthen the hip flexor. She'd square off the hip bones to accentuate the stretch in the hamstring. Then you'd feel your body. Then you'd be in your body. That's what healers do: re-introduce you to you.
She’d stay with a student for 10, 20, 30, 40 minutes after class to discuss the student's previous injuries and how to modify, their sore necks and how to release tension, their dogs and their cats, their tribulations and their victories.
Then she'd return home to her trees, where the ashes of loved ones resided. Their spirits arranged leafs in circular patterns at her doorstep to let her know she was loved. She wrote poetry to the universe. She had pages upon pages of poetry she shared only with God.
She fought for herself and she fought for those she loved. When she fought for you, it was because she knew the beauty and power of your soul. She wouldn’t let anyone touch that. Not ever.
Jenifer would remind you how special you were. “I KNOW what I KNOW," she'd say.
She held equal amounts of wisdom and innocence in her body. She moved with grace and authority. Sensuality and sass. She could get down in the soul as much as she could fly in spirit — on the dance floor and off. That's a fairy dustball quality, something of dirt and something of air.
My body is embedded with the wisdom she passed down to me. When I teach a class she is in me; she comes through me.
“I’ll be with you when I get to the other side,” Jenifer told me in our last phone conversation. “You know that, right?”
“Yes,” I said. That's a fairy dustball conversation, something of beauty and something of muck.
Tumors. Brain cancer. Surgeries. Death.
I got on my yoga mat today for the first time since her earthly farewell. I planked and down dogged and vinyasa-ed. Then I felt Jenifer near. Her voice rose above the music coming through the speakers, singing her words of encouragement as she had always done. "I KNOW what I KNOW."
And I moved on my mat with her. That's a fairy dustball dance, something of missing and something of coming home.