Dance is one of the most beautiful and healing forms of human expression. Across history and cultures dance has been used to celebrate nature, honor the divine, mark rites of passage, express creativity and cultural prowess, and to entertain the masses.
My personal relationship with dance has been complex. As a child I felt very connected to music and my body couldn’t help but move when music was playing. However, my dancing was stifled by religious and negative body messages.
My father was big fan of classical music and would take the whole family to concerts at parks and other cultural venues. As Daddy’s little girl I would show my Dad, appreciation for his music by emulating the moves of ballerinas while dancing nonstop. I remembered, at around age 5, telling the adult women in my life that I wanted to be a ballerina and was quickly told that “fat girls” could not be ballerinas and that it was stupid for me to pursue dance. So that idea died there.
Then there was secular dancing, yes, I am calling it secular, because as a child in an evangelical family there was a clear distinction between religious and secular matters. I love afro Caribbean rhythms, merengue, salsa, palo…. but dancing at parties, specially dancing with boys, was considered a sin by my religious denomination. Whenever I was invited to a birthday party or community event I would find the way to sneak in a dance or two with a local boy. Unfortunately, it was impossible to keep it a secret and my parents would find out that was being disobedient and sinful before I event returned home from said party. So that kind of dancing was also out.
It took me until my late thirties to fully express my love for dance. As I have reconnected with dance I have come across many women and men who also had her inner dancer quieted in childhood and adolescence. It is amazing how others can limit our self-expression by projecting their insecurities and believes onto us. Let’s undo that.
My body finds dance healing and uplifting. It is the most gratifying form of movement for me. Dance has been used by therapist to help people heal trauma and build confidence.
It does not matter to me if I look good doing it or not. It is about moving feely to the music. I release the stress of a though day when I dance, I release insecurity when I dance, I build community with others when I dance, and I am my best and most joyful self when I dance.
So you think you can’t dance? Think again, if you want to dance, if you enjoy dance you can and you should!!!! Dance freely, like no one is watching!!!!