Sitting here, with my pen grasped lightly between my fingers, as I try to figure out the right words. I carefully pick words that can describe the sensation that dance brings, to tell what dance means to me. My story is different. No, I didn’t have a life-changing experience where dance became an escape. My profound experience stems from the gifts of motion to the beats of the music.
Dance was part of my upbringing. It was like a language: initially, you learn the rules and thereafter you become creative with it. Dance was part of my culture and I embraced it. I recall being in elementary and all I wanted was to be chosen to represent my school in dance competitions. Looking back, I am unsure why representing my school in dance was so important. However, I felt a sense of freedom when I danced. There was liberty in the actions. There was something fulfilling from molding an image, telling a story through choreography.
Now, dance is a lifestyle. It allows me to create balance in life, outside of work, outside of my routine. It is a space where I express myself. It appears mechanical, attempting to get the right curves, to extend the arms, and carry your body with a certain tempo and flow. Art is the same way. Like the painter who uses the brush to draw out a story, the dancer uses movement to carve out an image, and to relay emotions. When we dance, there are certain intricate details – maybe intricate is not the word – tiny details in our motion that naturally becomes a part of us. When I dance it is as if time freezes, I am totally present at that moment, and all I think of is being able to express myself. It is interesting how my body becomes this translator – using sound waves from the music heard and transposing it into something beautiful.
Dance is also culture, and it varies based on heritage. As a dance lover, I am open to trying various forms of dance. I find it immensely entertaining and challenging. However, the upbeat tempos of the afrobeat, born out of Africa; the salsa in the Latin America; and the hip hop from North America, are what are familiar to me. Each style has its purpose and is unique in its own way.
The fast-paced beats of afrobeat, which I revisited throughout my upbringing are vibrations with high energy interpreted with changing motions across rhythms.
I have always admired Latin style of dance. There is something so intimate about your hand being in the palms of another, the warmth of the other felt on your skin, the sway of the dance, and the subtle smile across partners. There is something so intimate about that moment, when you feel the music and sense the motion of your body grazing the other. Here, dance becomes a means to bring two partners together, to strengthen a relationship, to discover friendship, to be sensual, to be unapologetic, and to be soft and strong at the same time.
Hip-hop is both strong and playful. Most songs are lyrical and the motions depict a certain theme. I find it also universal, in the sense that people around the world are aware of such style. I like how hip-hop can be both fast and slow, how there can also be a mix of other cultures; and a blend of different flavors.
So to go back to the question why do you dance? I dance because I have the freedom to be myself at that moment. I dance because I enjoy practicing till the presentation becomes effortless. I enjoy dancing because it expands my comfort zone, and each dance piece is my mini-adventure – an exploration of my flexibility, creativity, and sense of life.