Ditching the “used to”

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“I used to dance” – a phrase I hear constantly. This phrase is troubling because all dancers know that once it gets into your bloodstream, it never leaves. When something like this enters your soul, how can you suppress it?

I’ve concluded that there are several reasons why dance gets suppressed: People get injured, they become too busy, or life simply gets in the way. It can sometimes even be too painful to think of returning to it after a traumatic injury or a bad experience. I think the problem lies in the way view dance. When we are young, the competitive aspect is the most prominent. We dance because we want to become professionals or acquire fame, and when that doesn’t happen, we leave it and never look back. The one variable missing in this equation is the way dance benefits our soul. Dance makes us unexplainably happy, something I like to equate to runners high. That feeling is like nothing else in the world.

I think people don’t return to dance because they are worried about no longer being the best, but I propose that we re-frame that. When we can no longer compete with the younger generations, we should strip it down and get back to dancing for ourselves. When our goals and abilities change, we should consider using it to feed our soul. It can relieve stress, release endorphins, and sometimes the smallest victories in a dance class can make us feel a sense of accomplishment that most of us don’t find in our regular lives.

Recently, Dance Expose held open adult jazz classes where we had some people who had not danced for over 10 years. They all came in scared and shy, but by the end of the class, they were basking in the euphoric glow of accomplishments as simple as completing perfect triple pirouettes or as difficult as learning choreography in a foreign style. Seeing the satisfaction on their faces prompted me to begin a campaign to eliminate the “used to” in “I used to dance”. Being okay with starting over and failing is the first step in re-awakening the desire. Dance is like home, no matter how long it takes you to get there, or how your goals change, baby steps to training wheels, you can always go back.

Of course I don’t have all the answers, but this is just food for thought.



January 6th, 2014

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