It’s not uncommon to find a dance inspired post from me around this time of year. (Last time it was Self-discovery through…salsa dancing?) This is because once a year I immerse myself in a world of Latin dance as a volunteer and participant in the Reno Latin Dance Fest for a weekend of workshops, shows, and social dancing.
This year gave me the opportunity to finish a conversation that has been two years in the making. Two years ago, a friend/dance instructor I had met at the festival told me, “If you’re not into touch, maybe dance isn’t for you.”
As you may have guessed, at the time I was struggling with the amount of touch involved in a particular style of dance. In reponse, I hid my pain behind lowered eyes and kind of shrugged my shoulders. But that conversation wouldn’t leave me, and I knew there was so much more to say. I just didn’t have the strength at the time.
The truth is that my distrust and dicomfort with some forms of touch are the result of trauma I experienced and reflect an attempt at selfpreservation. (I know I’m not the only one. Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 women in the US is sexuality assaulted in her lifetime? And that is just one form of trauma. We’ve all faced difficulties in life that have changed us, and while those changes serve a purpose at the time, they’re not always helpful in the long run.) Dance has helped me heal on a physical & an emotional level, but only because I found friends, dance partners, and teachers who were patient with me and respected my boundaries while still pushing me to become better on my own terms. In other words, I found people who show compassion, and I learned to have more compassion for myself as well. If I had listened to people like this instructor, I might never have found the freedom, strength, beauty, and joy that can come from dance. By pushing me beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone, dance has helped me confront some of the limiting beliefs that have kept me from living my life to the fullest. I’ve found that I’m capable of much more than I ever would have believed, on and off the dance floor.