I know. I totally get it. You work too much. You’re getting up too early, eating lunch at your desk, and getting home too late for any sort of extra-curricular excursions. Maybe you’ve got kids. THEY are you’re life now. You would feel silly taking dance seriously at your age. You’re body hurts already. You’re not comfortable with the way you look. You’re too fat, too lazy, too burdened with too many responsibilities. It’s just too much, too hard, too crazy, too scary. You, and much of the modern world, suffer from The Terrible Toos. Even I, as a dancer, suffer (daily) from this affliction and, after 19 years of dancing (yikes), still fall prey to the intimidation of taking a dance class. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try it. Maybe you loved it as a child but thought it was only for children. But you should try to dance again. Read on to discover how dance can replace your physical and psychological burdens (both chemically and emotionally) with pure joy.
1. You have a body. Use it or lose it
Dance, like other really active forms of movement, will give your body a longer shelf life. Isn’t that what we all want? Don’t take my word for it. In his Laws of Motion, Sir Isaac Newton declared that a body in motion remains in motion. Have you ever been surprised by how much you can get done if you just keep moving throughout the day? Or how hard it is to muster the energy to be effective when you’ve been on the couch for a bunch of hours? Your daily movement choices create a sort of momentum for your life. Besides being a more accomplished person, the heightened circulation your body gains from cardiovascular movement, like dance, can help flush inflamed cells from your system. For instance, I’ve got a touch of osteoarthritis in my back that dissipates every time I do hip isolations. I mean, can you have more fun confronting arthritis then with sexy hip moves? The answer to that question is no. Yes, of course each body has it’s own limitations. Be careful with yourself, but keep moving, dammit, keep moving.
2. Dance cures the “working out is no fun” syndrome
Dance is liberating (if you allow it to be). Working out is a chore. Dance can make you feel beautiful and powerful. Watching yourself slave away through the eyes of a gym mirror can be a waking nightmare. I don’t think I’m the only one that experiences this.
3. Dance can be just as effective — and sometimes even better — then prescription drugs
In modern society, the human animal’s “fight or flight” instinct has morphed from a physical to psychological experience. You’re less likely to be fleeing from a physical threat then you are to be scared to death that a creditor will call or because you think your boss may fire you or this or that and so on. When we inevitably get stressed, our body chemically makes no distinction between internal and external threats. There is a complex cascade of over 30 stress hormones — such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol — tormenting your body every time you argue with a loved one or any of the innumerable things we’re all stressing out about every day.
Dancing can naturally give your body some relief from the quiet torture you’re putting yourself through due to the magic that is oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin, otherwise known as the “bonding hormone” or “love drug”, is a phenomenal anti-depressant, sexual stimulant, and is even sometimes used to heal wounds through it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Dopamine is an important part of your brain’s reward system. It can commonly be associated with the gratification one feels during sex, or a great meal. It also helps to activate the learning centers of our brains, increasing cognitive functioning. If that wasn’t enough, any form of exercise can reduce blood pressure, relax muscles, and increase your metabolism, which can burn up all those stress hormones eating away at you right now. How many of us either will have to, or already do, buy drugs to accomplish these things? Dance it out people. Dance it out.
4. You can get your dance fix super-cheap
Believe it our not, dance is happening where you live. There are free dance events, donation based classes, weddings, nightclubs, and friends who need partners for their Tango meet-up group… something. Hell, my mother use to create playlists of her favorite songs, lock herself in her bedroom twice a week, and dance until that playlist played out. And if you can afford to “reward” yourself (that’s a dopamine reference in case you missed it) once in a while, take classes from your local dance school. I’m sure they need the dollars so you’ll be doing a good deed for yourself and your community.
5. Dance makes you more interesting
You will surprise and delight people at dinner parties and get-togethers because you dance. Dance is fun. They make popular television shows about people who dance. And you’re even more exotic and interesting if you dance as an adult. It supplies you with a hint of intrigue. It’s cool to meet a doctor, sure, but what if that doctor was compelled to dance in his or her spare time? I want to meet that person. I’ve also found both the topic and physical experience of dance to be infectious. You may even inspire new dance buddies (you trendsetter, you).
6. Dancing as an adult is all fun and no pressure
Life is tough. Dance, as a profession, is harder. The beauty about dancing for fun at a later age is you get all of the fun without the pressure of perhaps one day becoming a professional dancer. The fun can sometimes be lost if you only study at a young age.
This year, I co-founded a non-professional dance collective, lovingly referred to as the Shakedown. The big question I get is why? Why am I spending all this time establishing a dance collective for the general public rather than for fellow dancers? Dance can be an exclusive, highly insular art form. Part of my mission as a dance personality is to expand the audience for dance beyond the dance community alone (although I hope they like me, too). Dance, as an experience is completely universal. When I share it with those that are new to it and witness them discover (or rediscover) the giddy joy of movement, it reminds me why I’ve decided on this life. And you too can benefit from the splendor that is dance. Get out into the word and shake it down. #DefyYourCouch. See what you find.