The Cathartic Beauty of Dance

On April 4, 2015, I lost a dear friend and the world lost a beautiful person and dancer.  She passed away from the ALS that had ravaged her body for the past two years.  She was one of my first ballroom friends and had an amazing smile. She always encouraged me and supported me in my dancing efforts.  I always think of her when I’m battling my demons because she always told me, very firmly, don’t let your fears hold you back.

Her memorial service was this past Saturday and I had a dance lesson right after. Teacher wanted to work on my performance more because he says my technique is solid, we just need to put the finishing touches on my dance for Emerald Ball. Which means I need to emote more! And why not, I had already spent the whole morning very emotional, may as well put it into my dance. It’s what my friend would have told me to do.

Everyone who has danced has experienced the amazing effects it has on stress. Moving your body to music is an incredible way to release tension in your body and your mind. And it can be very beautifully cathartic. The first dance I needed to emote to was waltz and Teacher put a sad one on for me. I didn’t cry, I just danced and stretched through my moves as much as I could without falling over and imagined she was watching. He also had me try a “happy” waltz, which was difficult, but I managed to emote it to his satisfaction. I did call on my friend for help at one point.

We also worked on my open fan in tango and grapevine in foxtrot and I actually found myself giggling. It’s hard to act all fierce or passionate in tango when your teacher is just standing there staring! I giggle when I feel awkward. But also, by that point, my heart wasn’t feeling so heavy. Maybe it was just simply the fact that my focus was being diverted from the sadness I was feeling. But it was more like the emotions that were weighing heavy on me were being channeled into my movements. As I styled my arm through my face-to-face back-to-back sequence in waltz, I tried to match in physical motion the level of emotion I was feeling. I almost got lost in the sequence a couple of times because I extended a movement so far.

By the time the lesson was over, I was worn out. But I felt better. When I first got the news that my friend had passed, my first thought was to go to my studio. It was where my memories of her were and where I felt comfort. So I went with another friend and we just sat in a corner, me with a cup of tea, and watched people dance. And I felt better.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, dance is my refuge, my sanctuary. I can dance and watch others dance to feel better, or at least feel more at peace with the negative things I deal with. As ugly and unfair as the world can be, at least there are still beautiful things to experience as well. Everyone needs that beautiful place or that thing to escape to. Just to feel better.

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