Dance has influenced the decisions I make, the places I go, the people I meet, the perceptions I have about life, the values I cherish the most, my awareness of myself as a body and a soul, as well as how I interact with others and the world around me.
Someone recently asked me why I dance, and the first thought that came to my mind was, ironically, NOT thinking. Dance, as I explained to this person, is one of the first places I learned not to lead (or follow) with thinking, but to feel. With Dance, I shut off my brain, and engage, or turn on, my senses. This is huge for someone who is constantly thinking and processing and analyzing like myself. And wow, what it has done for my writing. As a writer, I need to be much more in touch with my senses, and to be able to capture moments when my senses are really heightened. Dance makes me much more aware of those moments and plants the images of them deep within my memory.
Dance improves my memory. Over time, with age, and with doing less work that involves memorizing or putting certain previous skills into enough practise, my memory had definitely become less reliable. But I find that because I often need to memorize steps and repeat patterns and retain advice about technique and footwork in dance, my ability to remember has improved.
Dance teaches my muscles to remember as well. I did not practise any particular sport when I was a child so Dance was the first place that I really was able to see the power of muscle memory. I don’t think I believed in it at first, but Dance showed me that I could trust it.
Dance has taught me to trust. To trust in my partner, to trust in my self, but also to trust that my body knows sometimes better than my mind where it should go and what it should do. I learn through Dance that sometimes it’s my body that can teach my mind something for a change, rather than me always having to first sort it out in my head. My body picks up the lesson and my mind follows. I can now put much more trust in my body’s ability to absorb and learn. Dance has allowed me to surrender to that trust.
Dance has given me the ability to see the beauty of surrender. Dance teaches me that surrender is not a weakness but a strength. It takes courage and depth of character to surrender. Surrender is not about giving up, but giving in. It’s about letting go and flowing with, rather than against. It’s not about losing but gaining.
With Dance, I gain a deeper understanding of myself and others around me. It makes me feel for others, because it teaches me how to really feel. It reminds me that my intuition is important, and to listen to this inner part of me. Dance allows me to belief in feelings not just facts.
The fact is that Dance allows me -no, forces me- to be present– with the music, with my partner, and with life. Dance shows me how to be alive– to really live in that moment. I have a tendency to reminisce on the past, to miss what I once had, or to worry about the future. I am definitely a worrier. But Dance has transformed my worrying into acknowledgement of what is around me- Gratitude. Dance makes me grateful for what is, rather than fearful of what might be or sad for what might have been but was lost.
Dance allows me to get lost -to lose myself in rhythm, connection, listening to my partner’s lead through movement rather than voice. Dance gives me another voice, another mode of communication that can be heard through the skin, through touch and heartbeats, through gazes and breaths.
Dance teaches me to breathe. I breathe with my partner, I breathe with the music, and I inhale something that is far greater than the air around us. It is an energy that is constantly moving, connecting, flowing and creating. And through Dance we can tap into this energy and exhale that energy even stronger into our surroundings.
Dance energizes and inspires me. It makes me want to get up in the morning, and drives me to be creative. Dance reminds me that creativity is crucial to my being. We are human beings, but we are also soul beings, and our souls need nourishment in terms of arts and expression. Dance allows my soul to express with my body what I sometimes cannot express with my words. Dance becomes words, sentences, paragraphs. Dance tells stories, not in books or on paper, but in the space around and within me.
Dance gives me space to grow, to be unique, to interpret the way I want to interpret, and show others what I see and feel. Dance allows me to let others into my feelings without having to say a word.
Dance grounds me. It reminds me to feel the floor, to connect to the floor and the earth, to feel where I am rooted. Dance reminds me of my roots- where I came from, where I want to go, but also who I really am. Dance helps me find home. It gives me a home in even the most foreign of places.
Dance turns foreigners into friends. We don’t have to speak the same language or
live in the same country. I just need to be open to accepting an offer of a hand from a fellow lover of dance.
Dance teaches me acceptance and love. It teaches me to see the beauty in all people- all shapes and sizes. It teaches me to adapt to this diversity, and learn from it. Dance teaches me to accept myself among the diversity and helps me to carry myself with confidence.
Dance gives me something to do when I’m waiting at the bus stop or waiting for the light to change. Dance has changed my light, making it shine brighter and deeper, so that others can feel it from across the floor. Dance connects me to my core. It centers me, fills the parts of me that were being neglected, and makes my life whole. Dance teaches me balance- of my physical body, but also between my worldly and spiritual life. Dance teaches me the truth of who I am and allows me to experience a range of emotions.
Dance lets me feel happiness, joy and excitement, but it also allows me to feel pain, jealousy, fear and heartache and know that that is okay. Dance gives me a place to turn when no one else understands me. Dance doesn’t judge or ask why or when or how. Dance lets me move through it myself, at my own pace, falling, tumbling, but then rising and leaping again. Dance accompanies me through the highs and lows.
Dance makes me high. I crave it throughout my days. It instantly relieves without any harmful side effects. Dance is a natural healer. It reminds me of the naturalness of my body, of the naturalness of intimacy and of touch. Dance shows me that I can touch and be touched in a single moment and that the effects could last a lifetime. Dance shows me that connection can happen even without physical touch but just by sharing energy, intention and movement.
Dance reminds me that we were meant to move and to be moved.
Dance moves me. Dance teaches me to be free.