M. Linda Graham
Several weeks ago, I was honored to be interviewed for a local podcast regarding a dancer’s perspective on the aging body. Near the end of the interview, the host - Dr. Barb DePree [middlesexmd.com] asked “In this particular season, when we may have fewer opportunities for movement and less variety in our day-to-day lives, are there practices that you’d recommend?”
To my surprise, I answered: “A Daily Dance Party.” This apparently surprised the host, too: “that was not the answer I was expecting.”
I’m really horrible at “off the cuff” responses, inevitably mumbling to myself the answers I WISH I’d given later in the day, so the production team graciously sent me a “cheat sheet” of questions. For that question, I’d prepared myself to say “your preference for a physical practice, whether it’s yoga, Pilates, whatever- it’s important to MOVE every day” – but no – I said:
“Give yourself a little Dance Party for 5-8minutes every day”
Dance is unique in that many view it as a completely useless expenditure of precious calories, undertaken to serve no utilitarian purpose. It doesn’t shovel snow or get the dishes done. Yes, I said it – you were thinking it: totally useless.
Dance is also unique because, unlike other physical experiences such as yoga, swimming or competitive sports (all of which have awesome merits of their own), dance is a TOTAL package: in addition to being physical, mental, and constantly changing, it is also musical, creative, expressive (therefore cathartic) and social (with bonding potential). Dance offers the opportunity to tune into the mind, body (instinct) and feelings (heart/spirit)– the personal holy trinity. But it doesn't stop there. It opens a window, letting what’s inside come out – then, what’s inside has the chance to interact with whatever, or whoever, may be with us in the moment – we dance WITH a blue sky, a dog, a chair, a sweetheart – and that sharing transforms what was inside of us BECAUSE it has been shared. In that moment, we forge a link with our immediate world – and then it all flips around and, like a genie, swoops back inside- phooop! And there we are: renewed, refreshed, reflecting the present through connection and release.
This doesn’t happen through a regimen of “steps” – although steps and technique may provide vocabulary and range – but such is not required. All one needs is music and a few simple, task-oriented guidelines for the imagination: "Be Big! be small - sway - shake!" A proper Dance Party simply requires one to move- There is no “wrong” – just you be doo be you be doo be you.
Give yourself the gift of connection and release – throw a little Dance Party today.