Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dancing As Healing

Nijinksy, Library of Congress
Four months ago, my dance teacher broke up with her long-term boyfriend. She immediately threw herself into a new choreography with props and custom costumes, and planned an elaborate stage show I was lucky to be a part of.

Around the first of the year, I experienced my own heartbreak. The following night, I got on a stage with my troupe around me and danced. And then I danced on stage the next week. And the week after that.

For me, dance is a way of expressing the feelings I can't express, or that feel as though they are about to poisoning me. Though my heart was cracked that first night on stage, I still felt the love of getting my makeup done, even though my face was swollen from crying. I still felt the creativity and beauty as I put my costume together. I still experienced the excitement of getting on stage, the thrill of the music, the togetherness of dancing with my troupe, even as the one person I wanted in the audience wasn't there.

Since then, I have danced as much as possible. I've taken new dance classes, made new dance friends, and through it all, dance and music have brought me through. When I am feeling lonely, I go to class and my students or fellow dancers cheer me up. Last week after a particularly bad weekend, I settled into the slow taxeem of ITS and just felt as though I belonged. There have been mornings when I felt so low I just had to get up and out of bed and dance. In fact, some of the people who have been there for me the most, who have given me light, have been people I have danced with.

If you have been dancing long enough to feel comfortable doing it, the next time you feel low, experience heartbreak, or just need a pick-me-up, try putting on some music and dancing it out. Play a song that particularly speaks to you, a song that makes you feel happy, even something silly that just makes you laugh. Grab a friend or family member if you can, and just dance. The feeling of the music, of putting yourself back inside your body again, of slowly finding yourself again when all seems lost, they are things that can heal you. At the very least, it'll help you get your mind off your sadness for awhile.

Or go to a dance class.

To me, dance class is the nail shop for dancers. There's the camaraderie of women doing the same thing you are--learning the steps, the moves, the music, gossiping, talking about spouses and significant others, complaining about work and family. It's hard to imagine that the woman next to you in line at Starbucks ever experienced the same thing you did, but when you are doing the same choreography as that woman, or following her lead in improv, you have a better sense that she is coming from the same place--everyone has their own problems, everyone has their own heartaches.

The roots of belly dance lie in the houses of women who danced for each other because they couldn't dance in public. They danced for birth, for death, for love, for life. No matter your style of dance, take a lesson from them. Use dance to get you through life's joys and sorrows, and remember that there will always be someone to dance with.

1 comment:

  1. I thought you might like to know about The Healing Dance Network

    The Healing Dance Network: a web between the various healing dance studies, theories, practitioners and proponents through which to find, share and expand the study of healing through dance.