Dancing is one of the most joy-invoking things you can do with your body!
There are so many ways we can dance, there is bound to be some modality that you would love. My choice is NIA dance, which isn’t available everywhere, but there are so many choices; 5 stages, folk dance, square dance, ballroom, swing, modern and jazz, zumba, soul-dance and new ones springing to life all the time.
In California especially there are tribes of like-minded people who get together and dance regularly. All you need is a big space, a dj and permission to move in any way your body would like. I think it all started with Gabrielle Roth in the 70’s at Esalen. She had been a ballerina and her body was suffering from that years later. But she ached to move in some way so she just started moving without any plan. She felt so much better that she started teaching others.
She found that when people were left alone to move to music they often went through five rythyms;
- Flow – connecting with your own body by moving in any way that pleases you.
- Staccato – expanding your dance into relationship with the space and the rythym.
- Chaos – letting go of everything that no longer serves you, dancing wild.
- Lyrical – After the drama of chaos, this is free, creative, playful, like a trance.
- Stillness – being the dance until it drops away into stillness.
Each segment has very different music that is evocative of these feelings. I learned this at Esalen back then and have done it off and on ever since. It’s a perfect way to relearn how your body enjoys moving, at home alone or in a space with a few friends. You can buy a dvd to run you through it although you don’t do it to the dvd. Each person is doing their own dance.
NIA is a more choreographed dance form with a leader or teacher and many different routines. I love it because it takes my body into full range of motion and uses every possible movement that we don’t get in our daily lives. The choreography is more fun and more varied than I would do on my own and I don’t have to remember it. I just watch the leader and follow along. It generally has a free-dance segment in it for you to explore your own way of moving through the room and through the community. And you finish with floor play which is so wonderful! My body thinks I died and went to heaven!
I think it is impossible to do an hour of dance and not feel better, both physically and emotionally.
My mother loved ballroom dancing with a passion when she was young but my dad wouldn’t dance so she didn’t get to do what she loved. That was a sad thing. I never liked that kind of dance because I resist being led 😉
Even in yoga now there are many versions that do a flow from one asana to another that is a lot like dancing. For those of you who live in places that don’t have any dance classes close by you could try that.
Dance in Joy!