Don't Wait for the Opportunity to Dance


Did you know I spent decades of my life *wishing* I had the courage to be fully IN my dance?  

Until my mid-twenties, I did the majority of my ‘dancing’ as a student in dance classes. As I learned and reviewed, I pushed myself, but I arely felt the dance was emanating from my body in a truthful way. 

In an attempt to feel more connected to my movement, I would remind myself of how much I love to dance. I would repeat versions of the phrase, "You want this, you live for this, don’t let this opportunity slip by."

Sometimes, by the last five minutes of class, I would touch on the feeling that I was truly dancing, rather than just ironing out the details and trying to integrate the teachers' intentions with my own. In many ways, I kept going to classes because I wanted so badly to experience the flow state of dancing. I viewed the teachers as authorities who held tickets to this state; I'd only be able to enter if I paid my dues, pushed hard, and bravely overcame the voice of self-doubt. 

As a ‘working’ dancer (someone who makes some part of a living from dance gigs), your job is to be what other people want you to be. If you want to succeed, you should learn from people that work in the industry, be stylistically diverse, and have a distinct look. Connecting to what feels right and selling movements (sometimes with contrived facial gymnastics) are different things—you can guess which one is preferred for mainstream work. I thought that if I wanted my dance dreams to come true, I needed to learn to love executing dances that didn’t feel right in my body. 

Yes, dances can take a while to seep in; that's the nature of learning. Something that becomes utterly soul-churning may have started off like a wagon on cobblestones.  Learning is often a 'rough-at-the-start' process. However, some dances just make you more uncomfortable with time due to their construction and content. Some things we don't want to say again and again; some things we don't want to dance again and again.

I tried to love dances that weren't for me, but I I felt like I was lying with my body.  I was faking passion for someone else's movement so that I could be recognized. When I would receive corrections from choreographers,  I was often told I was too flowy, (I needed to tighten up), or too sensual (really). These experiences led to a strange relationship with something I viscerally and soulfully love. 

Eventually, I started exploring pole. Part of my transformation came from the apparatus, but most of it came from dancing on my own. I did it as experimentally, sensually, and as flow-ily (not a word, I know) as I could. For hours on end, I would get lost in my practice. Finally, I was stepping INto my dance, on my terms. 

Once I started to get pole gigs, I felt a great relief. I was a working dancer, but no was asking me to fit in. I was there to 'do my thing'; I was hired as a specialist. I realized that the qualities that previously prevented me from fitting in were precisely the qualities I needed to develop further in all of my dancing. On stage, I was free. With no plans, I would go up and dance. When I would catch glimpses of the audience, I would see mouths agape. I was felt.

Humans looove being seen and recognized, but I think an even more potent joy comes from being felt.  You're felt when you honestly share yourself, no matter where you are in your journey. When you confidently step forward and share your unique perspective. True inspiration, (not just the 'ooh I want to try that movement' kind), happens when we connect to the beauty of someone else's humanity. It's not the perfection of a move; it's the connection you feel to the mover. 

So let's say you want to be IN your dance, too.  Maybe you'd like to churn the soul of whoever watches you.  You want to inspire others. But when it comes to strategy, you have no idea how to get people to connect to your raw, sensual humanity.

Without being any more ‘skilled’ than you are right now, you can. 

First, find someone who is willing to watch you. Then, for two whole songs, writhe on the floor, the wall, the pole, that person (as long as you ask permission), whatever. Immerse yourself unapologetically. Meaning, you cannot apologize for any 'whoops' moments. There are none. Everything that happens is meant to happen. It's honest. Allow yourself to get as messy, weird, or erotic as you want. Nothing that you're inclined to do in your dance is off limits. 

I promise that you will inspire me and many others by committing yourself to this: DON'T STOP, NO MATTER WHAT. Permission-giving is contagious. Once someone sees you going for it, it's much easier for them to do the same. 

The beauty of this type of practice stems from its rarity. It's something that many people desire, but they spend their entire life being too afraid to say yes, and only yes, to all the suggestions that come from within them. When you do, you are seen, and you are felt.