Who is Eri, you ask? My real name is Valerie Taylor, but as you can see, “Eri” is in my name. I chose “Eri” as a pseudonym, an alternative identity, because unlike the old me who was neither “airy” nor “free,” Eri is just that.
So whether you call me Valerie, Val, Eri, or some other pet name like “Pooka,” I don’t mind.
Either way, you came here to learn about me. About who I am, what I do, and why I do it. So, let’s begin.
As a Dancer…
My life truly began when I started dancing. Dance bit me like a radioactive spider, hit me like a bolt of Asgardian thunder, came at me like a horde of bats, and left slivers of shrapnel in my heart.
Dance makes me feel superhuman. Ever since the first time I was thrown into a choreographed dance, I was invigorated. Suddenly, the meaning I had been searching for all my life was gazing at me through the mirror. My reflection didn’t look like me. Rather, I saw what I could become through dance.
No, unlike so many professional dancers, I was not 2 years old when I had my first class. Nor was I 5, 10, or 16. I was 20 years old, on the verge of 21 years old, when I had my first true taste of dance class. Up until that point, dance was a hobby, something I engaged in alone, in my room.
It was not long before dance saved me from myself and various ailments:
- An eating disorder
- Depression and anxiety
- Autoimmune disorder (systemic lupus)
- PTSD from sexual assault
- Low self-esteem
- Inferiority complex
- Musculoskeletal issues
To a lesser extent, working as a personal fitness trainer and yoga instructor also helped me come around. I have been doing yoga since my freshman year of high school (2004), so that is nearing 14 years of experience now. But while yoga helped me feel better in the moment, dance keeps me going strong, even when I think I’m about to break.
Now, dance, yoga, and fitness have merged into my purpose in life. Before anything else, I am a dancer.
Despite being told I’m not strong enough, that I don’t have enough physicality, that I’m too old, or what have you, I persisted. I got the best advice from the dance professors at Stockton University in New Jersey. The lovely instructors at Arts of the Dance Centre in Vineland, New Jersey gave me the foundation I needed, though.
Eventually, I found a dance company that took me in, in spite of all my handicaps and inexperience. Y-DE-ONE Modern Ballet Dance Company is where you will find me whenever I am in Japan. They are my beloved dance family.
As a Writer…
I was told by the very teachers that gave me the hope of one day performing on stage to utilizing my talent in writer as a side hustle. In 2016, when I moved to Japan for the first time, I launched my freelance writing career through Textbroker and Fiverr. It took some time to generate an interest in my abilities, and more than enough people telling me that I was selling myself short, before I was making a proper living just on writing alone.
As you can tell, writing for me is kind of like dancing… but with fingers and words rather than every fiber of my being. Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a published writer. Though right now all my work is mainly travel articles and website content, I continue to aspire towards having novels published.
Writing and dancing has introduced me to very important people in my life. Both have also gotten me through the harshest of events. Without dancing and writing fueling my will to live, I would not be who I am today. Because of dance, I am stronger. Because of writing, I can connect with brilliant minds and travel the world.
I hope that, through my words and my dance, I can inspire others to follow their heart and never, ever give up on their dreams.