On Friday, when I wrote this post, I got a comment from a friend of mine on Facebook. She said:
Sorry, Meg. If you had seen me in Zumba the other night… you’d know this just is not true for me! My first thought was “I have absolutely no rhythm or ability at ALL!” My second thought was “And Meg thinks ANYONE can be a dancer. P-shaw!” 😛
And something clicked into place:
We need to talk about definitions.
OK, I admit it: there are hundreds of kinds of dance that do need to be learned. You don’t come out of the womb doing pirouettes or time steps any more than you come out of the womb able play the violin or to draw photorealistically. Someone needs to teach you, and you need to practice.
And yes, you can be “good” and “bad” at things like ballet and tap and flamenco and possibly even Zumba (although I’m pretty sure the whole purpose of Zumba is to have fun no matter what you look like…maybe I’m wrong, I’ve never tried it).
But dance is bigger than dance techniques (i.e. style-specific steps and choreography). Sure, *insert-your-dance-technique-here* is dance. But dance is more than that. They’re not equivalent. And not being able to do dance technique well isn’t the same as not being able to dance.
Dance in its truest, largest sense is simply this:
Movement for its own sake.
I can elaborate if you want: it’s mind, body, and spirit moving together, pleasure in motion, emotion made physical, the essence of presence in the body.
And that kind of dance? Hell yes, anyone can do it. It’s not even a question of “can” or “can’t.” It just happens. It doesn’t have to be learned. And it can’t be judged and determined “good” or “bad,” because everyone is different.
So…what does that mean? It means that you can stop telling yourself you suck at dancing. When I say “you’re a dancer” and you flash back to that time you took a ballet/jazz/tap/ballroom/Zumba class and you totally fell over your own feet, that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or that you’re somehow the exception to the rule. Not being able to master a style of dance doesn’t make you a non-dancer. You’re a dancer because you’re alive.
When you look at dance through this lens, there are no limits to what you can do. You can move to music whenever and however you damn well want, because your body wants to move and all you need to do is get out of its way, dammit!
You were born with an innate desire to move to music. It doesn’t matter what you do, when you do it, how you look doing it, or whether you’re moving right on the beat. It doesn’t matter your age, shape, size, or fitness level. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never taken a class, or if you tried one and fell on your face.
You’re a dancer. Always and forever. No matter what. Shift your perspective.