When you read stories about people who have accomplished great deeds, one thing they all return to is how much they learned from the experience. In dancing, we tend to think of our learning as something that improves our body – more flexibility, for instance. But, what about our mind?
Yes, the champions of dance accomplish amazing things with their bodies. But it was their focus, their vision, their determination and tenacity – all mental attributes – that helped them get there. They weren’t born with these qualities, any more than we are born with naturally perfect reflexes. They learned from their art. And you can to.
1. How to bounce back from defeat.
Dancing teaches us to make peace with our mistakes, namely because we make so many of them it’s really the only way forward. Our resilience to mistakes determines how hard we push through that tricky step, how many hours we spend practicing that technique we can’t seem to get.
Some people may be more sensitive to mistakes than others, especially if they grew up in a household with perfectionist ideals. But gradually, dancing trains us all to make peace with our missteps, as a necessary part of learning and stepping outside our comfort zone. And that is an invaluable skill in all parts of our life.
2. How to reconnect with your body.
In modern society, the brain is considered king, and all other aspects – emotions, intuition, and anything else not easily quantifiable – take a backseat to it. As a result, many of us lose touch with our bodies, what we’re feeling, and how we should respond.
Dancing is often described as the point where motion meets emotion, because you can only go so far focusing only on the physical aspects of dance, like where to step or how much to turn. Sooner or later, you must reconnect with what you feel. Was this step shaky? Unbalanced? Did it evoke joy or sadness, and why?
Reconnecting to our body’s innate sense of what feels right also connects us to our intuition about situations in our life, and to respond more emphatically with those we love. And in doing so, we become more balanced and happy ourselves.
3. How to identify who you really are.
As we begin to listen again to what our emotions are telling us, we start to notice them steering us towards a specific path. From a dancer’s perspective, certain moves may feel good, while others feel lost, or uncomfortable. This optimal way of moving, of doing, and of living is what many refer to as their calling.
Your calling is the thing you are happiest doing at your deepest level. It expresses itself through the job you have, the company you keep, and yes, the way you dance. For example, tango is a passionate dance, and will therefore tend to draw passionate people. Or at least people who subconsciously want to be more passionate.
This might sound like hogwash, but don’t take your calling lightly: It’s literally the happiest way you can be as a person. And if you’re not happy, than honestly, what else is there?
Author: Ian Crewe
North Shore Dance Society