Dance. A beautiful expression of emotion, poetry, love and physicality. A means of escaping this world and entering into one of ease, passion, and elegant grace. While I haven’t been dancing all of my life, I’ve wished I could for longer than I can remember. I fell in love with the way that Judy Garland looked as she was effortlessly whisked across the floor in Fred Astaire’s arms in Easter Parade, or how her troubled frown disappeared as she quickly tapped her way across the barn floor with Gene Kelly in Summer Stock. Oh how I’ve always wished that I was born during that time, a time of simpler ways and classier entertainment. I love how I can pretend I am Judy when I dance, whether it be on the dance floor of a studio or simply across my living room carpet.
In our generation, music and dance have been diluted to a lukewarm, flat soda that we lose interest in after a few sips. How did we go from the poetic lyrics and classy innuendos of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to the repetitive and explicit oohs and aahs of Justin Beiber and Jason Derulo that objectify women? Twerking and grinding have become the norm while the waltz and foxtrot have become extinct. I’ve never really watched Dancing with the Stars before, but I think I would like to see all of the different variations of dance. I admire those dancers who can skillfully incorporate hip hop and contemporary moves while still paying homage to the ballroom days of the past. But I wish it was more popular, and people realized that they didn’t have to be professionals to enjoy dancing, real dancing.
Ballroom dancing has been on my bucket list for many years, but it became a reality in my life a little over four years ago, a week before my 23rd birthday. Discovering Arthur Murray occurred at a much needed time in my life. I had recently moved to North Richland Hills for my job, and I hadn’t made any friends and to be honest, I was lonely. I enjoyed my job, but it took up much of my time so I didn’t have opportunities to go out and meet people. I adopted a cat way sooner than I had planned to, but Ziggy helped make coming home a little easier for me. Nevertheless, I was looking for more- and I found it at Arthur Murray.
I called the studio on November 8th, 2014, inquiring about lessons and was set up quickly for my first private lesson. I was so nervous but also so ecstatic that my dream was coming true.
By the first ten minutes of my lesson, I was in love. In love with the movement, in love with the way dance made me feel, and in love with the possibilities it brought. As the next months went by, I learned a lot of new dances- waltz, foxtrot, rumba, cha cha, salsa, samba, west coast swing, jitterbug, tango, argentine tango, and many more! I was taught different ways to move my body and discovered muscles I didn’t realize I even had. I got frustrated many times, excited at my small successes, and intoxicated by the whole experience. I met so many new people who have grown into great friends, and with whom I’ve shared much laughter with, especially during group classes. The instructors are amazing at what they do and so encouraging, always making me feel welcome.
I took a break from dance the following summer and didn’t return until recently (this time to Dallas location), and even though I missed that great bunch of people and all of the fun times we had, I asked myself why I like to dance. What do I get out of it? My question was answered one morning as I was cooking breakfast. I had pandora playing through speakers and I was listening to my favorite station, “Cheek to Cheek radio,” which plays jazz and songs mostly sung by Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald (my favorite!). A song that I had never heard came on and as the opening notes trickled through the speakers, my heart squeezed a little, and a fluttery feeling, quite like the one you get right before you see your crush, started in my stomach and I immediately put my spatula down.
A peace came over me, my eyes slowly shut and I started to sway back and forth. I slowly glided around the kitchen counter to my living room and I began to dance. I wasn’t doing any steps in particular or a specific dance- I was simply moving. I didn’t care what I looked like or the fact I had no partner; my mind just blanked and I danced around my floor. I felt the music physically fill me up, like I was a cup and someone was pouring refreshing water into me, and a small smile automatically formed on my face. I couldn’t have stopped it if I tried. I felt graceful, beautiful, effortless. I wasn’t concentrating on performing specific steps, keeping my balance or form, but rather just moved how my heart led me.
There was my answer.
I dance because of how it makes me feel, how it affects me, how it changed my heart.
When I dance, I don’t focus on my flaws, my failures or my surroundings. I’m not thinking of my to-do list or better ways that I could be spending my time. I’m not thinking about what that guy thinks of me or how my hair looks while I’m moving around. I’m not thinking about how that extra ten pounds looks flailing around on the dance floor, or how my dress probably has sweat stains under the armpits. I don’t care about anything except how happy my heart is as my body moves to the music. I feel empowered, sexy, graceful and talented. I feel free, light, unhindered by the burdens of this world. I feel extreme joy as I twirl and I brush off the mistakes my feet make with a carefree smile and a laugh. My heart is happy and I wish I could bottle up this feeling and save it forever.
As I write this I feel like I am Kevin Bacon petitioning the Beaumont church to allow dancing once again, plying them with scripture, but I love how often the bible mentions dancing. Below are just a few, but most of them mention dancing with joy and praise and so at times I relate my joy that comes from dancing to the joy that we believers find in the Lord.
Now I’ll admit, at times I find more joy in earthly pleasures than I do in my relationship with Christ, and I’m working on that. But each time I feel that joy, I never forget to thank Him for bringing me to Arthur Murray or for giving me the opportunity and ability to dance. And to be really honest, I sometimes pray and ask God to put the love of dance into the heart of the man He has planned for me. I would love to dance and share that joy, both of dance and of the Lord, with my husband one day.
It doesn’t matter if you have two left feet, there is no music playing, and you have not one iota of rhythm in your body at all. If your heart dances, then you are a dancer.
Find something that makes your heart dance. I sure have.
A special thanks to Arthur Murray studios, both Fort Worth and Dallas, and my family there! AM Fort Worth family, I love you all and miss you and I can’t wait to get back on the dance floor with you sometime! 🙂