dance connection

 

dance friends

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!!!!

 

 

 

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wabi-sabi

 

There is a Japanese theory called Wabi-sabi, where things are considered most beautiful when they have a flaw or are broken. A vase with a chip in it or a plate with a crack do not necessarily need to be thrown away, but they can be appreciated as objects that wear badges of time well spent and of being a well loved, used and enjoyed item. So is the dancer’s broken toe or pulled muscle Wabi-sabi? The blisters on their feet… Is that a beautiful sign of authenticity, use, love and being of service? Totally Wabi-sabi.

Wabi-sabi is saying that imperfection adds to beauty. It is a concept that seems so opposite from everything being told to us in the world today. Maybe that is why I like it so much. But it is so true. Nothing can actually be perfect. What perfect even means would be different for everyone.  For example, I like a small, old house with a porch. My daughter likes box houses with giant windows. My son would say condo or farm. There is no right or wrong. Every one of us sees perfection through different eyes. But we are also all very much the same. No body is unbreakable. No dancer does not stumble and fall. I prefer an old scuffed up teapot to a new shiny one. I like objects that have character. Same with dancers. It is hard to apply Wabi-sabi to ballet in particular. It is all about precision. However, I can see the character and authenticity…the naturalness and raw quality when they are at the barre. The dancer may be striving for strong, physical exactness but they are wearing shabby leg warmers, ripped tights and shoes with holes to do it. They are letting their Wabi-sabi shine through.

The dancers we love to watch the most, have spirit and emotion. Emotions are messy and genuine. Wabi-sabi. We see the heart break, the joy, the fear or the confusion. That extra dimension of naturalness and authenticity creates the balance with the pretty perfection and endears us to it more deeply. We all like things that are a little damaged. Like people…no one gets through life without a scar or two. A bruise, a chip, a fall or a break.

Wabi-sabi teaches us to embrace the imperfect. It teaches us to see the beauty of the cracked, broken or fleeting. In the dance studio or out in the real world it would serve all of us well to appreciate and see a little more of the beauty in our flaws and imperfections. Which aren’t really flaws at all…

dancified year one!


Ilovedancing

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It has been exactly one year since I put on the tights and taught a dance class again. After a long absence to have kids and be a full time Mommy, I decided to start dancified dance classes for grown-ups. I set out to see if I could get some other adults back into the dance studio with me and I set out to see if I still knew what I was doing. (Haa!)

I am happy and grateful to report that I am pleased with the results of both these goals.

Without much advertising at all, dancers have found dancified and made their way to the studio! Some great dancers too!!!! These dancified dancers love to move and to challenge themselves. They know how to work hard but they also know how to laugh. It is a pleasure to choreograph for them and they make me smile.

I have had the privilege of meeting and dancing with some very interesting and amazing people. Truly. On that basis alone, I consider this first year to be a huge success.

A frequent comment I hear from the adults is that they notice changes in their brain after they have been back in a dance class for a while. The speed at which they pick up the steps and their memory improves greatly. Dance class keeps your mind sharp and quick. As much as, or even more so, than dance affects the body, it seems that the dancers are extremely impressed with the results for their minds.

Doing the splits or the highest jump is not as important to us anymore but the overall feeling of being strong and fit is what we are enjoying. In addition to the physical benefits and the mental benefits, the feeling of freedom and elation that dancing can give, goes far to relieve stress and bring happiness to the dancers. (and their teacher!)

I can see the improvements in the adults that dance regularly and I can feel the year of work on my own body.

A year of stretching and bending and balancing again. A year of spinning and jumping and kicking again. It does make you feel younger. It does make you feel healthier. I can’t recommend enough the importance of staying bendy! You will have less groaning when you get up out of a chair or out of a bend. More range of motion and ease of movement while doing…anything…will make you feel better and your life more enjoyable.

I have had a year of doing ballet again, and jazz and hip-hop…other styles too…

I GET TO (not have to) go to a dance studio each week and listen to amazing music. I can jump and spin and wear leg warmers. I can laugh and sing, even at the barre. I am getting a work out and doing something amazing for my body mind and spirit. My muscles are worked. My brain is used. My artistic expression is shared and my creativity fulfilled.

I have no complaints about this first dancified year. I have learned a lot and look forward to learning more. Adults should be taught differently than children or teens and I am enjoying every hour of that process. When a grown-up who hasn’t danced in years makes their return to dancing, nothing beats the look of joy I see on their face!

I am so thankful I have this opportunity and l am excited to keep growing the classes and the program for many more years to come.

But my favourite part of it all, for sure, has been meeting the dancers.

Thank you to all of you who have come to get dancified!

You are all positive, brave, fun, funny, strong, awesome, fit, smart, beautiful, energetic, talented…and, of course, extremely worthy of the title…dancified!

“success will ensue…”

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I just read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. In it, he makes this statement, “Don’t aim at success  – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue…”

I thought that was a great way of saying it.

Do what you love and success will come.

Just do what you feel good about and you will be happy.

But is this true?

Could this be true in the dance world?

It takes a lot of hard work to see success as a professional dancer. You need to set specific goals and achieve them. A dance career will not just show up if you are not well trained…but…we have all seen that the most successful dancers are not always the technically superior dancers. The dancers with heart and passion are the world’s favourite to watch. I definitely do not receive as much enjoyment from watching the dancer with the highest extension or most turns as I do from watching the dancer that is bursting with energy and it is visible how much they love what they are doing.

If you are good at what you do, chances are it will be seen, and you will be rewarded with success. If you live your life with purpose and meaning then happiness will be there too. You don’t have to climb a mountain to find it. No gurus necessary. Find your own passion and go with it.

I don’t think you could be a dancer if you didn’t feel you HAD to be a dancer. The amount of hours involved in professional training and the blood, sweat and tears…you would not do it if it was not a love. Certain career choices are logical and voluntary, while others are a calling or a way of life. Viktor thinks we should all find our own way of life and our own meaning.

“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue…”

Do what you love and the success and happiness will follow.

For doing what you love, I already consider you successful.