I always used to have issues speaking up, speaking confidently. I didn’t know what my opinions were, and wasn’t sure whether anyone would want to hear them. And when I did voice something, it seemed to come out hesitant, shaky, unsure.
I also experienced a lot of issues with my throat – dry coughs, irritations, cracking and loss of my voice. I thought that was just the way my voice was. That I couldn’t do anything about it. I thought I hated my voice. So I spoke less and wrote and listened more. I was known as the quiet one.
Back then, I didn’t realize how much our voice is connected to our individuality. That each of us has a very unique resonance. And how that resonance gets expressed often reflects what is going on for us internally- emotionally and subconsciously. I was holding on to so much that I wasn’t even aware of- fears, conditioning, anger, sadness, trauma and secrets. Maybe not even from this lifetime, but from past ones. And this was affecting my voice and sense of self. It was also affecting how I was showing up in how I let, or didn’t let, my creativity flow through me..
I didn’t know how much I wanted to speak out. I wanted to be heard. I wanted my voice to matter. I also wanted it to sound smooth and fluid, the kind of voice everyone loved to hear. I was so envious of great singers and moving speakers because of how they would express with so much passion and confidence. I was envious of anyone, in fact, who could express so deeply and move others to laughter, inspiration and tears. Whether they were artists, musicians. singers, or dancers, even other children who seemed so free in the way they played- I wanted to know how to do that for myself. People would tell me it was natural. But it felt so far from natural for me.
When I found dance classes, I thought it they would automatically teach me to be expressive. That I would finally overcome my shyness.
But no matter which dance I tried- salsa, bachata, tango, swing or even some hip hop- I still couldn’t let loose, or let my own unique style come out. What I was feeling on the inside- from the music and the exhilaration and the depth of it all- was not coming through on the outside. I looked bored, or BORING. And I couldn’t figure out how to tap into what I saw in the dancers I admired.
Some instructors felt it was something that couldn’t be taught. Some made it sound like it was a personality thing- like maybe it wasn’t part of my personality to be that way, Others created exercises for me to bring that flair and charisma out I even paid them for these classes. But no matter how hard they tried, no matter how hard I thought I was trying, I was left feeling like an expressionless dancer. Eventually, I thought that my instructors were giving up on me. I definitely felt like I was.
So I did what I usually did when I wasn’t feeling successful in one dance style, or any activity really- I escaped and ran away to another new one.
I don’t remember how I found out about Blues and Fusion Dance, but when I showed up at my first social, I thought, “No one knows anything about me or my dancing here. So I could hide out and start over, AGAIN. If I didn’t feel good about my dancing, I could always use the excuse that I was just a beginner.”
The beginner class at this event didn’t really give me much to go on. It didn’t really feel like there was a basic or specific technique or structure to the dance.. It was all about feeling, which I already thought I wasn’t great at expressing. So I wasn’t sure if I would like this. How would I know what to do?
Before I could even decide whether to stay or go, this guy Jason asked me to dance. Little did I know that my saying yes to that dance would change everything for me.
I had no idea what I was doing, but lucky for me, Jason very much did. Not only was he leading me in all these moves that came from dances I already knew, but he was also throwing in movements that I had never experienced. And I went with them. There wasn’t any time for me to think, or predict what was coming next. So I did whatever my body wanted in that moment. Or I just let it take over, not knowing if it was right or wrong. Jason knew how to take whatever response I gave him and run, or dance with it, in a way that looked good. Made it feel right. And made me feel kind of like a natural.
After the dance, I asked what all of that was. How he learned it. He told me he had a background in salsa, bachata, swing and tango, but also acro and gymnastics. He said he recognised me from the salsa scene, and I was surprised that he already knew my name. Although I didn’t know what I was doing in fusion dancing, I knew I wanted to keep doing it.
Blues and Fusion ‘forced’ me to be playful. I had no other choice, unless I wanted to just stand there and do nothing. I had to be creative, and do something unique because there were no basic steps to mimic that I could hide behind. No particular count or footwork. I had to make it up and make my own choices and give this dance my own flavour. And having other dances in my background helped. But I didn’t have to stick to their rules or count or structure. I had to be able to fall out of them when it called for it, but also appreciate the partnering technique and nuances I had learned from them.
It was scary at first, but also fun, so I kept going to more socials. I felt like Blues and Fusion was more of a conversation between me and my partner. Like I could decide what I wanted to say and HOW I wanted to say it- whether I took heavy, grungy and gritty steps, more into the floor,, or if I used a texture that was lighter and more airy. Whether I wanted to point or flex my foot, or use the full palm of my hand to push off of my partner’s chest. Whether I wanted to move with a sultry walk, or a groovy strut. It was up to me how I wanted to VOICE my steps. And what I was saying WAS BEING HEARD.
Through this dance, I was able to express the truth of what I was feeling, to speak out with my body in a unique way. MY way. And I was not shamed or ridiculed or shut down for it. But actually encouraged to play and create, for me and also for my partner. Because he could feed off of what I said, or how I moved. And.it was an organic conversation, not a dialogue that was already preplanned, pre-choreographed, or forced me to go back or forth on the 1 or any other count with any particular foot.
For that, I had to listen to my partner, and the music. And feel into what I was feeling..
With the other dances I had been dancing up to that point, I was always taking the safe route, reverting back to imitating what I was being shown. Never deviating outside of that. But in Blues and Fusion, I had to be the INNOVATOR, NOT THE IMITATOR. And when the leads I was dancing with fed off of what I was creating, I felt empowered, like my voice mattered. My individuality mattered. It felt addictive to see and feel my true self come through and not be afraid to let others see her and hear from her too. It felt like her expression was inspiring others to express more fully too.
What I didn’t realize until years later was that the reason this felt so liberating was that for a large part of my life, I was blocked in a very vital energy center that governs expression- the throat chakra. And not just expressions we usually associate with the throat like speaking or singing. But expressing in art, dance, play and exploration. Just being a kid! To learn that being blocked in this chakra could cut you off from your creativity, from your feeling free and safe to laugh, innovate, let whatever is inside out was fascinating to me.
And IT MADE SENSE! Because I could think back from times in my childhood where I was made to feel silly for speaking up or singing or acting, or that’s how I interpreted other people’s reactions. It took me years to realize that those people themselves were made to feel fearful of expressing and were shut down from their own true feelings. I also learned that the throat chakra can get blocked when we are pushed to keep things a secret- in family dynamics or with loved ones, or just being made to feel like it was more important what other people thought of us rather than what was truly going on. And I remember being around that for much of my growing up- being taught to worry more about how things would look to others than how I truly felt.
I didn’t realize that the throat chakra and the voice has so much to do with our right to share our truth, who we really are, with those around us and ourselves. Being cut off from that in so many different ways, I had shut off my voice and I wasn’t listening to my own truth. I was hiding from things that scared me or from what I thought others would judge me for. I thought I was keeping myself safe, but what I learned was that when we don’t speak our truth and keep things inside, what we don’t say can actually disconnect us from being present, from intimacy and from feeling alive..
That was it! The experiences I had in Blues and Fusion made me feel alive! To speak out, to say, “I’m here!” And to be acknowledged for being here. Just for being. This dance gave me space and time and encouragement to try something new, to play, to explore, to create and innovate. And the more I got used to be allowed and feeling safe to do this, it inspired me to go back to the other dances I had almost given up on, or that I thought had given up on me. And I gave them and me another chance. I showed up more open. I could finally put that playfulness and expression that Blues and Fusion got me tapped into into the other dances.
It was so liberating to find my voice through this dance and switch my envy of other dancers into a celebration of their uniqueness. I loved going to a blues and fusion event, and noticing that maybe one dancer had a ballet background, and another had a salsa background, and another must be a lindy dancer, or another must be more into jazz or contemporary. Yet we were all there sharing the same dance floor and using what we learned from each other to sprinkle so added flavour to our own styles.
Blues and Fusion allowed me to find my own resonance, to acknowledge that I have my own sound, my own way of moving and expressing. And to trust in it. To own it, because no one could do what I do or the way I do it. No one could say it the way I do and no one could dance it or express the way my unique self could. .
The more I was able to voice myself through this and other dances, the more I was able to show up in other areas of my life with confidence. And I came to love my voice and appreciate and honour individual expression in myself and others.