Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dancing Without Fear

Strange Children, State Library of New South Wales
So, I've been dancing for six years now, right? I take classes regularly, I can do ITS and look amazing doing it, I know all the basic belly dance moves and frequently take workshops in new things to add to my dance vocabulary (whirling! modern dance! poi! swing!). So why is it that when it comes time to making up something to put on a stage, I don't feel competent?

Well, the answer is right there in the question. I don't feel competent. Yeah, I can technically execute moves I've been learning for years, with my shoulders back and my chin up and my pelvis tucked, but when it comes to feel the music, to interpret it and make it my own, I freeze up. Suddenly everything feels wrong, or I'm worried about how I like and how it doesn't feel like I'm Rachel Brice (again, the comparison!), or that I look like as uncoordinated as I felt during my first color guard practice.

I recently started taking a modern dance class. Modern dance is something I've wanted to try for around two years now, but I could never find classes for adults that were within a half hour's drive. Luckily, the new studio I teach at now has a modern dance class, so I started showing up to class at 9:30 on a Sunday morning.

Let me tell you, coming from perfect belly dance isolations and jumping into "and now you're just going to let your whole body fall to the right, spin to the floor and jump back up!" is a huge shock. I had such a hard time that first half hour, and I was back to feeling that I wasn't competent. However, my foray into modern dance happened to fall into the month where I tried every kind of dance I could fine, and after reminding myself that I had once thought I couldn't belly dance, I threw myself into the move.

And you know what? I did okay! I'm not as flexible as the teacher (who has been dancing a million kinds of dances since forever) or the co-student who is also in color guard or on the dance team and can probably do the splits, but I also didn't suck. And it was fun, to throw myself around with controlled abandon and know I wasn't going to fall or run into someone or look stupid.

I know that I can learn any dance I want, without worrying about how old I am or how flexible I am or how high I can kick my legs. What I'm learning now is to dance without fear. To dance without being afraid of looking stupid or executing a move wrong. To be able to release my body and just follow the music. Maybe I still don't look like the dancers I'm trying emulate, but I'm on my way.