I love to dance. Perhaps I love to dance a bit too much from others’ perspective. There’s the inclination towards shameless plugging and the endless talking, which can garner several reactions. The first and most common is the “smile-and-nod.” The second is the polite request to change the subject. The third is slightly amusing. Their eyes glaze over. I’ve been reflecting on this a little, and I’ve come to a realization: Dance has become a lifestyle for me. For people looking at such a lifestyle from the outside, it’s rather strange to them. If they are curious enough to inquire into it, the questions seem almost silly. For example, “When are you going to be on ‘Dancing with the Stars’?” Apparently this one is pretty common, and it can be a source of annoyance. Fortunately, no one has asked me that…yet. I want to be considerate, so I’ll try not to talk too much about it in front of my non-dancing acquaintances.
I only just recently realized that dance has become my lifestyle. It’s odd because one would think I would have recognized this sooner. This calls for further reflection. When did this happen? What are the components to living this way? Just what is a “lifestyle” anyway? Unfortunately, I cannot answer the first question because I honestly have no idea. If I were to guess, I would say that dance began to take over midway through my senior year of high school. I do, however, have answers for the other two questions, and I will try to combine them as succinctly as I can. A lifestyle is an endeavor that permeates one’s daily existence. Everything seems to revolve around it. One’s schedule, one’s social activities, and even how one goes about one’s job is related to it. For example, I meticulously pick my college classes based on how they will impact my dancing. Will I be able to balance my studies and still go to group class on a fairly regular basis if I pick this class at this specific time? Here’s another one. I am moving into the dorms this upcoming semester, but am I still willing to drive approximately thirty minutes to the studio around three times a week? You bet I am. Please note that while dance is a significant part of my existence, I do not believe it is a fundamental part of my ontology (i.e. that dance is my existence). The whole point of this blog is to show others my love of dance and how it affects my life. Here are some basics components that come with life in heels, though some can apply to any kind of lifestyle.
I believe this is of utmost importance when it comes to this lifestyle. Goals are crucial to advancing, but what happens when you reach that goal? Passion is what drives a person to set a new one. It keeps the person from saying “Now what?” when the goal is achieved. Passion re-ignites the flame when a person is suffering burn-out, those days where one just feels utterly stuck. There are some days where I feel like I will never reach Bronze III. I just want to curl up in my bed and evaporate for a while. Then, I put on a beautiful Strauss waltz, and it reminds me that I have to keep going. After all, I will never get to dance Viennese Waltz if I just lie down in bed and stew in my feelings. If I am a car, the passion is the gas. (My apologies, that was cheesy.)
In ballroom, you can practice with a partner or on your own. I lack an amateur partner, so I mostly practice by myself. To me, the steps almost always seem easier when dancing with another person. But, am I really learning the steps if I just rely on someone else? My versatility and prowess will certainly increase if I can master the steps without a man to help me. It also comes in handy when dancing with a person below your skill level. He or she may want to try a certain step but mess up. If you understand the step as you are dancing with him or her, you can do your part just fine despite your partner’s slip-up. Of course, how much you want to practice is entirely your decision. The sky is the limit for this dancer, so that means I try to practice as much as possible.
If it were not for ballroom, I probably would never wear make-up. I would probably only wear dresses on extremely rare occasions. It has helped me appreciate my femininity. It makes me feel beautiful. This is the glamorous side of the ballroom. There are plenty of rhinestones, hairspray, hair nets, hair pins, fake eyelashes, dresses, and the list is almost endless. How much you have to clean up depends on the competition. I have only competed locally, and the atmosphere is more relaxed. Some women only wear a nice shirt with pants. Shoes are also very important. I wear shoes with a closed toe for Smooth, and open shoes for Rhythm. Oh, and do not forget the shoe brush!
The benefit here is the one-on-one time. The teacher is only focusing on you. He or she can help iron out those bad habits, and strengthen your best points. The experience is specialized because every artist has a different way of going about his or her craft. Tommy is a highly technical teacher, so my lessons are less about casual dancing and more about how to place my foot, lines, head alignment, posture, etc. This sounds boring, and it can be. But, I need a solid foundation that I can build on, and proper technique is crucial. What is the point of doing the steps if it does not look right? There is also an aspect of vulnerability in private lessons. I admit that this is still a bit intimidating to me because I have to take down my walls a bit. I tend to get flustered more often than I would like to, and Tommy has picked up on this nasty tendency. Happily, he is very encouraging.
Group classes are less specialized, but dancing with other people is more than enough compensation. Ballroom is a social skill, so learning to adapt to each individual’s lead or follow is very beneficial. Dancing with someone unfamiliar can also aid in alleviating general discomfort that comes with new experiences. Personally, I would get very bored if I had to dance with the same person all night.
Dancing is as much a part of me as my arms and legs. It helps me get up in the morning. It helps lessen heartache and sadness. It is a very fulfilling part of my life. If anybody tells me otherwise, may God help them. I jest. In all seriousness, it does not matter to me if anyone understands my passion. I love to dance, and that is all that matters.