A friend of mine, Joel Torgeson from California, wrote an article about why he dances (https://joeltorgeson.com/2018/03/22/why-i-dance/). It inspired me to do the same, and even though there are similarities, I wanted to write my personal own love hymn about this amazing way of communicating, the sport and artform itself. So…what makes dancing so addictive to me? The answers are diverse, maybe surprising… and magical:
Of course! Because music is amazing. I believe you`ll agree with me that music has a massive impact on our lives – it’s practically everywhere we go. It has the power to alter moods and change the “feel” of a room. It`s able to express and trigger deep buried emotions we carry within us.
It`s almost as if we all had a personal soundtrack of our lives: those songs that remind us of situations and emotions we`ve been through.
When i hear a song, a rhythm or melody, it touches something inside of me. I`m able to take it in and appreciate it at a much deeper level. I want to feel the music in my body, let it flow through me… get lost in it. I love letting music move me!
Dancing is both, grounding and transcendent, it lets me be fully in my body while completely escaping the world.
Our world is full of distractions. Most of the day my brain is juggling thousands of thoughts about the past and the future while trying to remain in the present and sort things out. Dancing stops that race. It demands and draws my full attention to concentrate on the music, my partner and my own body. It`s my form of meditating and the best tool, I have found to bring me into the moment and to focus on the here-and-now. Like my friend Joel, I sometimes can`t even tell right after the dance, what I did, because I was so in the moment that my mind didn`t take selfies 😉. This moment is all we have!
As I mentioned before, music is able to bring out or change my emotions. So is dancing. As the words to the classic Eagles song “Hotel California” says:
“…some dance to remember, some dance to forget…”.
It´s like therapy for me: When I`m in a bad mood when I start to dance, it´s most likely going to change. When my mind is at its darkest and when I think the whole world is closing in on me or I feel all alone and nothing is ever, ever going to feel right again… dancing makes me feel strong, whole and happy again. It’s like someone throws me a lifeline and I grab on to it and I take my pain, my hurt and I create something beautiful out of them.
Dancing also allows me to access and process emotions that I wouldn`t normally be able to show and live through in my daily life. It gives me a safe environment to truly be myself- a way to express myself when words are insufficient. I can show all the parts of my personality that sometimes don`t have enough space in my life: love, sadness, passionate fire and vulnerability. Dance is my medium to discover and express who I really am and what I can be.
I always had images in my head while listening to music. It was easy for me to visualize effects, pictures and choreographies. I loved doing choreographies and shows: telling a story to the audience. I create something out of the moment, alone or with a partner- an expression of my feelings with my body. It´s like adding an instrument to the music and the instrument is my body. It`s making music visible.
To be honest I don`t like to work out on machines too much. I tried a lot of different sports, but nothing compares to dancing for exercises involving the whole body and the use of every single muscle. The best part of it is: I never get bored of it and it`s just plain fun. I`m sweating and pushing my body to the limit, trying to be more exact, faster, slower, and balanced, yet it never feels agonizing.
Dancing challenges me on different levels. Apart from the physical challenge, which is obvious, it challenges me on a deeper, personal level. It´s like a good relationship. It brings out the best in me: it helps overcome my fears by pushing me to try new things and to my limits.
As the saying goes “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. And so does dance. To improve, I have to put myself out there and be open-minded. I`ve learned to stay relaxed in overwhelming situations and not to be so hard on myself. I`ve had to accept that I will never be perfect. And that`s ok. It teaches me how to respond to changing circumstances gracefully and creatively, without freaking out. It is the quintessence of “going with the flow”. Like in life where learning never stops, dancing has been a life-lesson teacher!
There are so many aspects to this point.
First, dancing is a way to connect to my body and soul! When I`m moving I feel my weak parts and strong parts connecting.
In addition to the deep connection with the music, I already mentioned, I need to point out the intensity and speed by which you can connect with people. After a stressful day, listening to music can be calming, but social dance (any kind of partner dancing) adds the dimension of „touch“ and connection with other people. How amazing is it to give someone your full, undivided attention for a moment in time? We all want to be seen. We all want to connect deeply with other people. But in our society, it could be hard sometimes and the only way to connect seems to be on social media. Partner dancing opens a wonderful world of deep and real connection. And yes, even though, it may only be for a dance or two….the connection with another can be powerful. I try to be completely open for my partner so that we`re able to create something beautiful together, in harmony. I´ve had the opportunity to get to know some of my dance partners really well without any exchanging of words, just by sharing a dance. I learn things about their personalities that would take me years to figure out in a non-dance interaction. In dance, oftentimes, there`s an unexplainable trust involved. In the intimacy of dance, people show parts of themselves they would never otherwise show.
Dance-touch is how we physically connect with our partner during a dance. It includes everything from a basic, open handhold to full-body contact. It also includes how we touch. Most dancers are pretty aware of how and where to touch in a respectful way. Assuming this, dance-touch can be very sensual, yet innocent. It can feel safe and awesome, all at once, to connect physically with a good dance partner.
Here I am going to quote my friend Joel: “It is an amazing privilege that other people allow me (or any dancer for that matter) to touch their body. Sometimes I forget how incredible this is, but I’m always happy to make the realization again: human touch is a wonderful thing.”
It is indeed.
When I am travelling and I ever feel alone, I am able to quickly connect with people by going to a social dance or a dance class. Dancing is an intercultural language that unites people from all over the world.
The dance community is amazing. Open-minded and open-hearted people from diverse social, cultural, ethnic, educational backgrounds and ages come together and share this love for dancing! We´re all in the same boat, we´ve been through the same struggles and we all interact respectfully with one other. What an awesome role model for the world!
To feel the magic of dance you`ll have to tear down your walls and let go. I know it´s not easy. But I promise you…it will catch you when you fall!
For me, dancing has always rewarded me with feeling alive, complete, happy and free.