I had a conversation recently about a bunch of scientific studies saying, basically, “people need people”. Doesn’t seem like a revolutionary or new concept as people have always lived in families and groups…we know we need people…but I guess we are also in need of a reminder. People are now living alone more, in apartments and in cities instead of villages. We don’t talk to our neighbours as much anymore. (Well, some neighbours are truly scary…stay away! Haa!) You do not have to go running out to meet everyone on your street but you DO need connection.
Connection is actually what it is all about.
Connection is vital and essential to leading a happy and healthy life. Lack of connection can have actual physical health repercussions.
So I was wondering about connection in the dance world. When it comes to “community”, how are the dancers doing?
It can be hard to make dance friends and stay friends when you are also each other’s competition. You are all going after the same part in the show or place in the company. Can you be friends with someone and be happy for them when they get the role and you don’t? Are you comparing yourself to them in the mirror? Overall, I think the need for connection outweighs the pangs of jealousy or any bad feelings. Who else but another dancer will understand what you are going through? These are the people who get you. They get it. They know how your body is hurting and they understand your frustration when you are working out some hard to do moves. You need your group of people who can relate to you. Who can commiserate and celebrate with you.
And who else knows the best tips for blisters or where to find the cheapest leg warmers?
That is the connection that people need and that the scientists are now talking about. You need to feel like you belong. That you are understood. You have to have, even one person, who just gets you.
The grown-ups I teach now feel like a nice community. Some of them come in with other people they already know. Some have met in class and have become friends outside of class. They keep up with each other on social media and it is amazing to see them all encouraging each other in all that they do. When you enter a dance class you know you already have at least one thing in common with the other participants. You all love dancing. After that, when the dancers start talking about jobs, parenthood, hobbies or interests…you can see the connections being made.
Some of my closest friends have been in the dance world. (Dancers are super fun! Haa!) And I look forward to meeting many more people and making more connections in my new dance community.
I hope you all find some great dancified connection along your way. It will be good for your health!!!!
What is the goal?
Of your dance class I mean.
Fitness? Fun? Health? Joy? Some need a target time, like a show, exam or competition. Some just enjoy it for what it is and see each class as the goal itself. For some, a single step becomes a goal, like mastering the pirouette or learning a fouette turn. Some students want to work to perfect the same routine week after week and others like the challenge of new choreography with each class. All grown-ups, all children, all students have their own learning style and their own motivation and goals for going to a dance class. For me, as a student, each class was a goal. To do all the combinations correctly and well. To pick up the choreography fast and in the end to dance my best, use the most energy and feel the high. My goal was never specifically to win the competition or pass the exam. Cleaning and perfecting the steps for a show was never as fun for me as just going all out with a routine in class, the thrill of starting new choreography or dancing to a song I loved. The passing of exams and winning competitions come along with it though. If you like what you are doing, you will practice and get better and better without ever considering it work. Once the music came on, I never thought about whether my toes were pointed or my leg was in proper alignment. When the music started, my brain turned off, my body (or maybe my spirit?) took over, and whatever happened, happened.
Like the different methods of the dance students, teachers also have their own ways.
I had a conversation with a dancified student the other day about the different styles of dance teachers. Mainly, why some give lots of corrections and some give none at all. I said that I like to give tips and advice on how to make it easier to do a certain step, but I don’t feel like most adult recreational dancers want to work on technique the same way a younger dancer would. Or a professional dancer needs to. There is no show or competition to train for. The grown-ups are not preparing for auditions. I don’t need the entire class to have the same arms or angle of the head. A correction for the dancer’s safety or to help them make the move feel better…yes. Corrections just for presentation purposes…no. I think it is up to each teacher to read the needs and wants of the class, or even each participant, and know when to give the correction and when to just let the dancers be and allow them to enjoy their dancing. You need to figure out who wants to be corrected and who wants the freedom to just do what is comfortable for their body. By all means, when you have a teenage competitive team whip them into shape with tons of corrections and enforce perfect unison of all positions. With the grown-ups…aside from a few exceptions (like the student I was talking to)…time to give them the say over their own dance class experience. They’ve earned it.
Is it here yet? Is it ever going to get warm out? Anyone feeling Springy?
I love the Spring season for all of its promise. For the shedding of the layers of sweaters and jackets. For the fact that it will turn into Summer…which is my favorite of the seasons. I love Spring for bringing back the grass and flowers and for making the nights brighter. I don’t just love the season. I also love the word. In dance, we use the word spring a lot. When teaching dance terminology, often we say things like, “spring into the air from both feet…” or “spring into the air from the ball of one foot…”
Springing into the air sounds fun and cool doesn’t it?
I’m not sure if we all spring enough outside of the dance studio so I am suggesting we all spring more this Spring. Spring into some gardening. Spring into your work. Spring into walking or family fun. Spring into your grocery shopping! This Spring we should really try to put an actual spring into our actual step. “Spring into the air from the balls of both feet!” Springing or jumping, in dance, means you take a leap. You push off and up and without hesitation you spring. Do something without hesitation this season.
It is great to be steady and balanced in life and in dance. Control and strength are necessities for all dance styles. But when it comes time to spring…it becomes about energy and power and trying to fly.
Inside the studio and out, this Spring let’s all try to fly!