Entry 10 - You Make Me Feel Like Dancing
Why Do You Dance?
This question is without a shadow of a doubt the most important question any dancer can ask themselves and yet I’m not sure we do. I know I have gone through periods of my life when I haven’t and then I’ve also gone through periods when it’s the only question I’ve asked. I’ve even stopped dancing when I’ve realised that I didn’t know why anymore. Since I became a teacher 21 years ago, I have only had a period of approximately 12 months where I didn’t dance and I’m happy to report they were the most miserable months ever.
So, let’s start with the basics, most people, if we are well and truly honest, start to dance with a goal in mind. It might be a fitness goal (dance is an amazing way to stay fit), a confidence boost perhaps (what better way to socialise?), perhaps it’s a bucket list activity to finally learn that routine/style you’ve always dreamed of. But at some point, there will have almost certainly been a reason.
The problem is, when do we know when we’ve done it? When is enough? We didn’t set ourselves a time limit. Dance doesn’t have an end point, it’s creative which means there is no beginning and end. Of course we have a syllabus, we have millions of routines that have been choreographed by various dancers before us. We have textbooks of course but these are just guidelines and in essence must be seen as nothing more than a starting point on the journey to being a truly accomplished dancer. After all, if we all followed the exact same recipe would we not all be exactly the same? How boring would that be? No more dance shows, no more Strictly, we’d have quite frankly seen it all before.
There is a point to this I promise. My point is, I think we should ask ourselves “why we dance” every six months. Minimum. To dance for me is my happy place, it’s my escapism. I love every second I’m on the dancefloor. Are there days I don’t feel like getting out of bed and actually going to the studio, yes of course but I know I will always feel better for it. I love the social aspect, the performance (if you know me you will know this is a huge part of my reason). I love the technicality, the science and the creativity. If you could bottle all the benefits of dance and sell them to me in a pill, you’d be the richest person alive.
On a more serious note, as a teacher I see how easy it is for people to forget why they dance. Professionally money is always a factor. Our art is underrated and if I had a pound for the number of times people have said “we are not going to pay you but the exposure will be great” – would you say that to a plumber I wonder? I doubt it. It’s disheartening and often leads to difficult conversations, causing dancers to lose love with their sport.
For students, it can often be because they enter their “confused” space. They love dance but they have no idea what they want to do anymore, so they become choreography monsters, more and more steps without mastering or understanding any. How many competitions can I do? How many routines can I learn? What’s next? Pretty soon, it all becomes too much, our grip starts to loosen and before you know it, you’ve fallen out of love because you have spent all that money, taken all those lessons and still ultimately haven’t achieved your reason for dancing. That’s not true for everyone, some people relish choreography, and if that’s your reason and it makes you smile that’s absolutely what we want.
Occasionally of course life gets in the way, finance, work and family all come way above the list and that’s just life and totally normal. But I can count on one hand the number of people who tell me they don’t regret stopping.
So the reason for my blog, is this, just take a minute to remember your reason for dancing, and if you don’t mind, drop it in the comments. Maybe you’ve drifted from that initial goal or maybe your goal has changed but there is never ever a reason for not getting there. It’s always possible (unless of course you’re aiming on becoming world champion in a week). If I know your reason I can help, and maybe just a slight tweak in your goals/tuition style would make you enjoy dance even more.
For me? Well 8 years ago I was ready to never teach again, I lost my love of it because I was dancing for others and never for myself. Today, I have a wonderful dance school that reminds me every day why I dance, it’s to teach, it’s to show my students what they could achieve. In short, it’s you.
You make me feel like dancing… and that will always be my biggest reason.