When I was little, my mom put me in dance classes, voice classes, art camps, and after-school drama programs. The only one that stuck? Voice lessons. Since the age of four, I’ve been in multiple singing groups, both competitive and non-competitive. Singing is a passion of mine and when I entered college I was really eager to explore it further. To my disappointment, however, singing classes would not fulfill my Fine Arts General Requirement (liberal arts schools, am I right?). I had to figure out a different way to receive the credit.
I knew drawing, sculpting, and painting were not options- While I wished I was good at these, I really had no patience for them. I also couldn’t take acting seriously, so that wasn’t the solution. I had done so much music theory over the years that I couldn’t stomach another course, and I didn’t feel like taking an art history class because I wanted the class to be more action vs. discussion based.
I realized soon enough that dance was the way to go- I loved exercise and the class would be a great way to get me moving in the late afternoon. When I was little, I completely failed at dance, but I was stronger now and more athletic. Plus, I thought it would help me become more flexible. The idea started sounding better and better until I completely convinced myself and signed up to take Beginning Dance as a senior!
I am now over two months into the dance class and can say I definitely have mixed emotions. I didn’t predict the class structure: full class periods spent drilling and discussing 2-3 techniques. Of course I didn't expect to just jump in and know all the moves, but I did think there would be more continuous dancing. More routine than singularity- something I could whip out at at an opportune moment!
Nevertheless, I am really happy with what the class has been doing for my confidence. My teacher took a lot of care at the beginning of the semester to ask us individually about our health. She addressed the topic of eating disorders, fully acknowledging that they are commonly associated with dancers. She wanted us to know that she by no means thought a dancer had to look a certain way or have a specific body type.
My classmates encourage one another. The first few classes consisted of trust exercises and get-to-know you games which, while cheesy, helped us become more comfortable with one another and feel more secure in the classroom. I know I look so incredibly stupid at times in the class- I am not known for being graceful or fluid by any means. The room has mirrors everywhere which is also daunting. But nobody in my class looks at each other to judge, only to follow if they are lost.
I’ve become brave and bold, wearing just a sports bra and leggings to class, curious to see how my body moves in the mirror. While in the past mirrors have been a source of discomfort for me, I am using the setting to see how strong and capable my body truly is.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, since I knew nobody going into the course. I am one of the only upperclassmen, but I am getting to know many amazing freshmen and sophomores, all genders, who I never would have met otherwise.
I can feel my leg strength supporting me, especially when we practice ballet. I am amazed by the support my body gives me, something I never could have imagined three years ago.
While I may not be the best dancer, I am pleased I took this class. I am learning a lot about my body- dance works me in different ways than the gym- and a lot about my mind. Dancers are very attuned to their bodies, and I am really happy this class spends a lot of time emphasizing the connection between mind and body. This class is helping me grow, and who knows- at the end, maybe I will even be the next Misty Copeland? One can dream, right?
Have you ever taken a dance class or do you dance for exercise consistently? How do you like dance compared to other forms of exercise? I would love to hear more about your dance experiences!