Vancouver, British Columbia. Pacific seaport. Canada's third largest city. Somewhere in among its 1,000,000-plus population, a young girl danced, straining to release the frustrations of adolescence. From the time she was old enough to stand at the bar, Kristine Winder spent from two to six hours a day pushing her body to its limits. Each day after school, she would study dance for two hours, then go home and dance some more. Her other desires were submerged in the dance.
"I would put on a record and just go crazy," she says, "for three hours at a time. Dance and dance, then lie on the bed and feel fantastic. I would do that every night because it stimulated me and gave me the release I needed, physically, mentally and morally."
Morally? Yes, there is a deep moral streak in Kristine that she says has resulted in her being called a prude by some men.
"I've never dressed to show off my body or worn seductive bathing suits or that sort of thing," she says, defensively. "It's probably due to the sudden transition I made from being a skinny, shapeless tomboy when I was 15 to filling out with, well, what every woman should have. In fact, there was a time when I became too aware of my body. When I would walk along a street, if I saw a man looking at me, I'd slow down to make sure nothing was bouncing and look down to see if anything was showing." Fortunately, she outgrew that extreme self-consciousness, partially because it hampered her dancing.
Before she left high school, she began dancing professionally in Vancouver, but once again, her sense of morality intruded on her aspirations and she finally decided to give up on a dancing career.
"Vancouver is not the greatest city for the arts. There was nothing to do there but old-time musicals. I'd go to these tryouts where four or five people looked you over, some piano player would plunk out a tune all out of time and in the wrong key and you would have to sing and dance. Then, if you got a part and you were young like I was, a lot of times they wouldn't pay you. You were supposed to be happy to get the experience. There were a lot of people who would take advantage of young girls that way. I just didn't have the taste for it."
"I thought about maybe going to a larger city, where theater is really theater, but I knew I just didn't have the kind of ambition it takes to go through all you have to go through to make it as a professional dancer. But I don't regret it. I have myself, and I know myself, and that's what matters."
So she stayed in Vancouver, where she now works as a secretary and receptionist for a grain exporter. She reads Vonnegut, listens to Dylan and studies macramé and photography in her spare time. On weekends, she likes to get as far away from the routine of her work week as possible by going scuba diving, canoeing or hiking.
But the music's still in her.
"I like my job, but I have to sit on my behind all day and I get very frustrated. After 17 years of dancing five hours every day, just sitting takes some getting used to. I have to have some kind of motion."
So, after work, she goes home, puts on a record and begins to move. Somehow, she works it all out.
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