Why it’s more than dance

When the yoga teacher kept yammering away about practicing aparigraha (the Sanskrit word for non-attachment) and how to brreeeathe, I knew it was time for a change.

Other than walking the dogs, yoga was my main form of exercise. I needed to mix things up a bit. To balance out the precise movements and life advice served up in yoga with freedom, fun and some badass sass.

This is when I decided to take up Zumba and enrol into the South Indian Street Dance course at Studio J Dance (full disclosure: my vibrant sister Jaya owns and runs this studio).

After six months of dancing, I got the irony. Dancing gave me the space to reveal my true nature – rather than tell me who I should be. It gave my life more meaning without my even trying – except for the commitment to show up to classes each week, of course.

Usually, my chest and throat tighten and my tummy plummets when I suddenly find myself in a limelight or in confrontation with a domineering personality. I don’t know how to deal with it, and stumble through the situation awkwardly.

But with dance, I began to notice a shift in my confidence – I was becoming braver at expressing myself, not only on but also off the dance floor. I was backing and trusting myself more. It just happened naturally.

For example, recently I had to lead a meeting with a new client to implement one of our products, since I am the product specialist. To make this go smoothly, our regional sales manager set up a meeting for me to go through the start-up process. She said that while she was going to be in the meeting, to act is if she wasn’t there. Oh dear!

I noticed my nerves as I was being introduced. The feeling was familiar, but something was different about it now. I was connecting the nerves to an uplifting, exciting sensation. One I got from dance.

You see, at the end of each term at Studio J, the class gets videoed performing the routine they have learned. We doll up, and dance with gusto, as if we were performing to a live audience. Well, close enough to it: the video gets posted on the studio’s social media channels. I feel an adrenaline rush – to get it right, to look boldly, cheekily into the camera as it’s rolling. And, importantly, I have a self-belief that I can do it.

I'm furthest to the left, not in screen view when video starts.

I got the same feeling when I led that meeting. I even have the chutzpah to make a joke. The client is telling us about her new offices in the Docklands. Modern. Floor-to-ceiling windows. An indoor bridge connecting two buildings. It all sounds glamorous. And I say, “Well, welcome to our humble abode.” We all laugh, the ice broken.

Normally, I wouldn’t have the gall to make such a comment. But it’s different now.

At the end of the meeting, after the clients leave, satisfied that they’re in good hands, the sales manager beams at me, “You were brilliant. We are so lucky to have you.” I’m sure I’m glowing, and have grown a few inches taller.

Yes, it’s much more than dance.


This article was originally published on Studio J Dance. You can view it here.

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