Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to Dance, In 1000 People or Less

State Library of New South Wales
I spent this last weekend at an amazing conference in Portland, Oregon. At the end of the weekend was a closing party with a Bollywood DJ in a ballroom with a spring floor. When that DJ started playing music (and after a glass of courage), I got up on a stage with a couple of other people and started belly dancing.

In front of more than 1000 other people.

And it was awesome. It was definitely the largest crowd I'd ever danced in front of, and while they definitely weren't there to watch me, and most of them probably didn't even notice me on stage, the fact that I got up there at all makes me proud.

You see, I always doubt my ability to dance and look good at the same time. I've performed so many times now, and been up on several stages, by myself and with people, but I always feel like I'm just killing time until the next performer. Or I experience dancer's remorse, where I get off stage after spending three minutes trying desperately to come up with my next move, and suddenly, while I'm standing in the wings, a thousand different ideas hit me at once.

But this time, not only did I feel like I actually had it and could move with the music without looking like a vaguely rhythmic zombie, I also found American Tribal Style dancers in a crowd of strangers in Portland. I was also able to dance with them on stage, which, to me, is the core and beauty of ATS: the ability to dance with strangers to music you've never heard of and instantly connect.

If you've been having doubts about your dance, your ability to find a beat, improvise, even move to music, try just losing yourself in the crowd and the music. Get a group of friends together and hit the dance clubs. If you need a shot of courage, try to limit it just enough to slightly lower your inhibitions, but not enough that you risk hurting yourself.

Then get on that dance floor or that stage and move. Shimmy in ways you've been trying to master in class, sway your hips and let go. Forget isolations and performing, and feel the music.

Just dance. You're better than you think you are when you're in the middle of the crowd. Then, next time you perform, go back to that night you were an amazing dancer, and get up on that stage.

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