As much as I love to rock out in my car and throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care at concerts, I’ve always operated under the assumption that I can’t dance. I have vaguely fond memories of a brief stint in ballet as a preschooler, but the only other dance experience I’ve had was a tap class in junior high. It took place in a barn (gotta love small towns) and the teacher spent the entire time mocking my technique and trying to get me to join her church’s youth group. I quit after one class, and never really danced again.
That all changed this weekend. My best friend, who also happens to be a dance teacher, put on an introductory dance workshop for people just like me, so I went, and I danced, and I absolutely loved it. Here are six reasons I’m itching to take another dance class, and why I think you should join me…
1. You’ll get a great workout. Like most people who work on a computer all day, by 5 p.m., my neck and shoulders are super tense and most of my other major muscle groups have turned to veal. My gym routine consists of a pretty similar workout every day, so dancing was a welcome–and challenging–change of pace. Turns out chassés and passés utilize muscles I didn’t even know I had, and by the end of class I was sweaty, sore, and totally energized.
2. It’s a fun way to express yourself. I’m one of those crazy creative types who feels like their soul has shriveled up and died if they aren’t able to express themselves, so I’m always looking for new creative outlets. I love painting, writing, singing, and drawing, but I’d never tried dancing. Damn, you guys, I had no idea how exhilarating it is to move your body in a creative way.
3. It’s a great stress reliever. Everyone knows physical activity is an effective stress buster, but pair that physical activity with music and emotional expression and you’ve got the best stress relief recipe ever. It sounds crazy, but every time I took a step to the beat and stretched my hands toward the ceiling I could feel months of stress and tension flowing out of my fingertips. Ahhhh, sweet relief!
4. It helps you connect with your body. One thing I always felt like I missed out on by not taking dance classes was a connection with my body and a good understanding of what it can do. I watch the way all my dancer friends move so confidently and gracefully–they have a keen awareness of their bodies that’s been honed by years of practice–and I envy them. Most of the time I feel clunky and clumsy, unaware of my own movements. In my Open Letter To The Fat Girl, I talked about how I often felt disconnected from my body when I was growing up, and while I know the dance world has a dark side when it comes to body image issues, there’s something very powerful about learning to move your body and feeling centered in your own skin.
5. You get to wear cute dance clothes. Totally shallow, I know, but any time you get the chance to channel Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance,” you should take it.
6. It’s scary. If you’ve never danced before or haven’t danced in a while, the idea of taking a dance class is really scary (even when it’s taught by your best friend!). One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is that if something really freaks you out, that’s reason enough to dive in headfirst. I never thought I would be brave enough to stare at myself in a mirror and attempt to master choreography, but I’m so glad I did. Next up: I’ve got some rollercoasters to ride.
P.S. My friend is teaching another introductory dance workshop this Sunday (November 18th). If you live in Portland and would like to join us, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details!