I’m a terrible dancer.
I have OK rhythm, can move my body with some coordination, and have enough spatial awareness not to knock over jiving co-patrons. But I’m a terrible dancer because I can’t separate movement and thought when trying to get down, unable to boogie without second-guessing each step.
We’ve already discussed the internal war with Zumba. The same judgment continues onto the dance floor whether at the bar, at weddings, or shows. The killer is, I really like dancing. Overactive thoughts just make it really damn difficult to enjoy.
Recently my coworker Amy cajoled me into trying a beginner modern dance workshop. As the first class finished up, I was sore and bleeding from the body roles and dramatic falls as my co-dancers gracefully pranced and twirled to Katy Perry. I shot Amy the evil eye and mouthed, “holy shit there is NOTHING beginner about this class!” But we kept going back, and after several weeks I looked forward to it, grueling grand plié’s and all.
The song we ended the class on was “Once” the musical’s beautiful ballad “Falling Slowly,” and after umpteen repetitions I started to feel like I was (sort of) flowing and expressing emotions through body and music. That is, until I caught a glimpse of my jumps in the mirror, looking much more like the cow jumping over the moon than the other lithe, spandex clad classmates. Difficulties aside, I would tell Amy after each class that I felt like I was “growing as a person,” dance and bodily expression far from any activity where I have a moderate comfort level.
Which brings me to this past week. I saw one of my favorite bands, Seattle’s “The Head and the Heart” at Music Hall of Williamsburg. I attended solo, alone amidst a sea of couples and friends. As the opening bands took the stage, I was able to ease into the atmosphere, the sense of being there and enjoying the sounds and lights and motions. As The Head and the Heart opened their set, there were long stretches where it felt nothing else existed, nothing but the stage, the band, and the music.
Swaying shoulders, bobbing heads, rocking hips and clapping, stomping feet were the world, awareness fully immersed in these sensory surroundings. There’s something about live music, especially music you love, that puts you in the moment like nothing else can. Communing with other fans, alone but together, enjoying a beautiful moment and moving because it just feels awesome might be one of the best feelings there is.
Back outside the suspended world of the show, the mind chatter of course returns, weekend plans and work commitments replacing the music, swift purposeful steps replacing the frivolous, joyful motion.
I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself a ‘good’ dancer. But each experience where you literally step (maybe even in-time) out of your comfort zone allows you to more fully absorb the richness of the moment. Becoming aware of how our bodies and minds relate, and either bring us closer or further away from being present, is something to which we can all aspire.
Two left feet or not.