It’s a Social thing!

The Zen Buddhists say, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it’s not boring at all but very interesting.”

I try to apply that Zen essence to all that I do, but after spending years performing the same after-work ritual of bouncing up and down on a Stairmaster, I became bored. The social aspect of dancing is one of the elements that makes it so enjoyable. The time passes so quickly when you are laughing and learning with a group of people with whom you share similar interests.

Cross-Training with Dance

Cross training (using weights and performing other sports) does add additional benefits such as increased aerobic capacity, and increased muscular definition to name a few. I am not suggesting abandoning exercise machines because their effective results have been proven. However, as a complimentary diversion, try a salsa class and awaken parts of your anatomy that you may have ignored your entire life!

In hip-hop, you will be introduced to moving on “up beats” which may be considered “foreign” in feeling. The movement is asymmetrical–meaning the left and the right sides of the body are not doing the same things at the same time, and your body is required to pop up to a position on a beat where–to some people–it feels like it should be going downward.

In ballet class, the shape of the hand is an extension of the line of the arm. Have you ever paid any attention to the shape of your wrist and where your fingers are in space? Welcome to the world of dance.

In tap class, intricate rhythmic patterns are created using your feet. It’s as if your heels and your toes are conducting a raucous-filled conversation with one another where both are excited beyond belief!

In the African tradition, the knees are bent frequently. The movement vocabulary celebrates flexion of the knees and moving towards the earth–or floor–versus ballet’s affinity to move away from the earth.

In Polynesian dance, the hands tell the stories of their ancestors, for each position has a meaning or word attached to it, all the while hips sway in methodical figure-eights with the feet treading lightly. Try a hula class if you ever have the chance! You will be amazed at the difficulty of co-ordinating hands and torso movement simultaneously. But you will not be alone! Everyone in the class with you will marvel at the movement and even more so as the teacher instructs the drummer to speed up the tempo! You and your whole class will bellow in laughter and disbelief as your body goes into shock or spasm due to the incredible challenge! With lots of practice though, you will be able to master the skills to keep up to tempo at any Luau in Maui!

Learn and grow

Through dance, you enhance your quality of life through active living. This is a way of life that values physical activity and encompasses the intellectual, social, and kinesthetic dimensions of an active, healthy lifestyle. Participating in a performing art inculcates in a person a lifestyle where creativity and active living co-exist, thereby satisfying our craving for holistic convergence.

Dance causes you to stretch your body and your limits at all times. It demands that you are aware and alive in its moments. With every bead of perspiration that drips down your face, you learn about your body–how it feels, and how it moves; you learn about your mind–how you learn, how quickly you assimilate visual and rhythmic cues; you learn about what stimulates you–are you more comfortable moving quickly or slowly?

Do you like dances rooted in emotion (angst, fury), or do you like dances that are purely movement based with no preface? We learn all sorts of information about ourselves when participating in dance class. Dancing is living for it is the culmination of breathing, mindfulness and expression of our own identities through sequences of stillness and motion.

So call up your friends and drop into a dance class nearby. Or grab your partner and go waltz around a parking lot. Find a Celtic dance class and discover what other professional dancers have known for years; that the performers in River Dance are world class athletes! Your body will be stiff for a week! And hey, the more Celtic dancing you do, the more pecan pie you can have come December! Enjoy!