So you think you can’t dance?

February 28, 2012

Dance, Happiness, Self-esteem

Trust me — no one expects you to look like the dancers from “So You Think You Can Dance.”

by Lynn Monson — 

So you think you don’t or can’t dance? My adult students often come to classes thinking this. I always ask them the following questions: Do you have two arms, two legs, a torso and a head? Do you walk down the street, wave hello or ever stretch in the morning? Have you ever run to catch a bus? Do you bend over to pick up objects, tap your toes or clap your hands to music? The answers are always yes.

These questions help them become aware that we all move, all the time. Our internal organs move. Movement is a basic characteristic, necessary to our existence. Therefore, you can and do dance, because the most basic component of dance is the movement of our bodies through space and time, which we do every day.

My theory is that dance is nothing more than walking and normal everyday movements (what dancers call pedestrian movement). Certainly, dance incorporates many embellishments, but its movements can still be broken down into basic steps.

What we think of as dance is just a natural outgrowth of this need and affinity for moving, as the human race looks for ways to express and communicate. Pedestrian movement and dance are two sides of the same coin. In both, the physical body is the instrument, and movement is the basic component. Through these, we are able to navigate our space — and yes, express and communicate.

Don’t we smile, shake our heads approvingly or disapprovingly, stomp our feet in anger, shake hands and jump for joy? Certainly. The basics of movement are the same, whether walking down the street or performing a dance in concert.

Granted, going from basic movements to those of a refined dance takes years of practice and expertise. But remember, the most basic component of dance is the movement of our bodies. So, we all have the ability, even though our skill levels vary.

We all can and should participate in the joy of dancing, each of us at our own level. You can put on music and dance around your living room. It is still dancing. Trust me — no one expects you to look like the dancers from “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Do not be afraid to dance. Try it. It is fun and it is good for you. It gets your heart rate up, releases brain chemicals that make you feel better and even helps your concentration. Sign up for a class or put on music and dance around your home. That’s what I do. What is important is that you enjoy it.

 

Lynn Monson is a dance educator and president of the Arizona Dance Education Organization. Lmonson@cox.net.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number  4, Aug/Sept 2009.

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