I understand this is contrary to the traditional quote that encouraged us to dance like no one is watching. (For the most part when I am dancing no one really is watching, because it usually takes place in my bedroom in front of my TV streaming YouTube videos.) Now, of course, I understand the sentiment of the original quote. Forget what people think. Be true to yourself. Find your inner joy and express it freely without fear or judgment or critique. That is all very good and sound counsel. However I would like to take it a few steps further.
In recent months I have worked at a venue that held several dance competitions for regional dance studios. During the course of these events, I have tucked away a few tidbits of dancing ‘lessons’ that I would like to translate into life ‘lessons’ and share with you. Hopefully these tidbits will encourage you to find the joy in life’s music and find your inner (and outer) Dancing Queen (or King, as the case may be.) So here we go….
#1. Pack Light = I have watched many a Dance Mom struggle with huge cases filled with all kinds of ‘stuff’. I have gone on week long vacations and did not pack as much as they bring for a one day competition. I understand the desire to be ready for anything, but really, are we EVER really ready for anything? So here is my advice. Remove the junk. We carry around things in our minds and hearts that weigh us down. Regrets. Bad decisions. Fear. Loneliness. Take them out of your life’s suitcase. They serve no purpose except to slow your forward progress. Releasing them will leave you give freedom to be graceful and get where you need to be in the NOW. Your next big performance is coming up. Hit the stage without dragging the burdens of yesterday with you.
#2. You Can Never Have Too Much Sparkle = This is my personal favorite. If you know me, then you know I am all about the sparkle! The dressing room floor after a dance competition is a sea of glitter. The lights on stage pick up the illumination, so it is glued or sewn on everything. Outfits, shoes, jewelry, hair. It even comes in a liquid form in spray bottles for the skin. (I actually have some of that. It’s awesome!) Our own personal sparkle is what sets us apart from others. It can take many forms. It can be our smile. Our kind words. The desire to listen and show compassion. A helping hand. The ability to bring light and laughter to a room. My beautiful friend Susan has the most natural internal ‘sparkle’ of anyone I have ever met. The atmosphere actually changes whenever she is around. I am forever in awe and envious of the positive energy that pours from her. So look within yourself and discover your inner sparkle. Whatever it is that ‘illuminates’ your world or those around you…..TAKE IT UP A NOTCH. You can never outshine yourself. So be glorious.
#3. Change Up Your Routine = Now THIS is my personal struggle. I am sorely a creature of habit. And not always good habits. But it is beneficial to change things up. Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new. Stretch your boundaries. When it comes to dance competitions, I know very little. But I can tell you this. The routines that use the same moves, costumes and music, even with flawless execution can become boring. When someone walks out on that stage and funks it up a little, wakes up the audience with a flash of individuality; THOSE are the performances that get the crowd excited. They might not always win a trophy, but they are the ones remembered. So go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, learn a skill you’ve always admired, check one or two things off your bucket list. Do something memorable.
#4. Teamwork Is Vital = Life is a team sport. I know, we don’t want to hear that. We want to be solitary soldiers marching to our own agenda. (Or is that just me??) But it truly doesn’t work that way. We need each other. If we do it right, we look out for each other. And this is really the best and most heart warming thing I discovered about the dance community; the genuine love and concern for one another. I have watched one girl miss a cue or take a spill and cost the entire group points. I braced myself for the backlash against the offender just so sure she would be shunned or scolded. But that’s not what happened, ever. As a group, they would rally to her, for her. Encourage her. Carry her off the stage. Wipe her tears. Older more experienced girls comforting the younger. Somehow the teacher had engrained in those girls the beauty and absolute necessity in being there for each other. Because at one point or another, the one in need will be YOU. Of all the things they learned, I hope that is the one thing they take with them into ‘life’. We all need a support system around us. It doesn’t have to be huge, it just has to be sincere. Make sure you can be there for someone when they miss their cue and need that encouragement.
#5. Slips Happen = This is a follow up to #4. Slips will happen. Tumbles are made. Occasionally they occur in the dressing room of life where no one ever sees. Those are easily overcome and brushed off. But sometimes, oh my dear friends, sometimes, they happen on center stage in front of your entire world. And it can feel like the worse thing ever. Unrecoverable. Devastating. What to do? Get up. Keep dancing. If you have to limp for a while, then limp. But keep dancing. Don’t quit. Don’t walk off the stage. You only have one life’s stage. You can’t abandon it. I understand the crushing weight of regret and even despair when your emotional equilibrium gives way and you crash land. But you can’t stay down. Nothing good ever happened while staying down. So you have to pick yourself up. And keep dancing.
With the popularity of TV programs like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with The Stars and of course, let’s not forget Dance Moms, there is a growing interest in dancing. All kinds of dancing. I, for one, think that is super. I love the idea of taking the concept of dancing out of the late night, dark floors of clubs and making it available to the ageless masses that just love to feel the music and move.
Dancing is one of the world’s best stress relievers. You can’t be upset or anxious when the music really touches you. I highly recommend it. Even if it is when no one is watching. But never let it stop you if they are.
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~Japanese Proverb
The Big Dance Floor of Life is waiting for you. Go put on your best sparkle!