Dance Walking for the First Time

To keep exercising and feeling healthy in the midst of a demanding work schedule, I’ve been trying to at least take a morning walk through the hills in my neighborhood. It doesn’t replace dance classes (which I wish I could take every day!), but it gets me moving, outdoors and energized.

Today, I decided to do something different. I decided to “dance walk”.

I was inspired by the adorable Ben Aaron and his dancing through the streets of NYC, and by the fact that I finally charged my freaking iPod.

Check out how Ben got the idea for “dance walk fitness” and what he did about it:

So, this morning, I grabbed my iPod and set out with my wedding playlist blaring in my ears.

It was an incredible workout! Heart rate up, working up a sweat and having SO much fun! I felt totally happy and energized.

It was 8 am on a Saturday morning, so there weren’t too many people around but I wondered what people in the passing cars thought.

I probably looked a little strange.

Kinda like this:

But I really didn’t care! I was getting down to these shake-your-booty dance classics:

  • Get Down Tonight (KC & the Sunshine Band)
  • Hey Ya! (Outkast)
  • Brickhouse (The Commodores)
  • Love Shack (The B-52s)
  • Twistin’ the Night Away (Sam Cooke) – and yes, I twisted!
  • Respect (Aretha Franklin)

Would you ever try dance walking? If you saw someone on the street doing it – what would you think? Would you join them?

I had so much fun and got such a good workout, that I’m going to make it a normal part of my routine!

 

Inspire Others by Dancing First

Sometimes loving to dance means being the first one on the dance floor. It means letting go of what other people think and just immersing yourself in the music you love.

It can be hard though. It’s fun to dance with other people, and it feels safer being in a group.

But dancing is also infectious. It usually only takes a few people to get the crowd going. Pretty soon you’re not alone anymore!

Like this guy. Check out how one “freak” turned into a dance mob in less than three minutes.

My favorite part of this video is at the end when you can hear one of the concert goers repeating, “How did he DO that? How did he do that?”

I loved hearing the awe and delight in her voice. He became a leader of dance, but not with that intention. He just felt the music and let it move him. Pretty soon, it took on a life of its own and just spread.

It’s OK to be shy about dancing. It’s not easy to be that vulnerable. But dance is an essential human right, in my opinion. It’s your chance to move your body in joy.

If other people aren’t ready or interested in doing that, fine.

But dance anyway. (You probably won’t be alone for long.)

 

A Reason to Love “Call Me Maybe – Chatroulette”

Steve Kardynal asks, "Call Me, Maybe?"

One of the things I love most about dancing is getting the chance to dance with other people.

It doesn’t matter whether people have the perfect technique or the most amazing style. I just love to move and laugh and sing together.

And a lot of times, it’s the simplest, most upbeat, often “overplayed” songs that help us do that. We can all find the beat. We can remember the words. We can laugh at the silliness of it and have fun acting out the lyrics.

That’s why I’m not a music snob. I love pop music. Not every song that tops the charts, but a lot of it. Because there’s something to be said for fun, upbeat, simple music.

This hilarious video reminded me of all that. It combines “Call Me Maybe” (the big pop hit of the summer) with ChatRoulette (the website that pairs random strangers together for webcam chats).

There’s some naughty dancing involved (slightly NSFW) which prompts reactions from the random strangers on the other side of the webcam.

Maybe it’s how the “star” edited it, or maybe it’s a good representation of what occurred, but the main thing you experience is people letting down their guard and smiling, laughing, singing and dancing along with a weird guy in a bikini.

It makes me so happy. I hope you like it too!

BTW – when I first saw this video a few days ago, it had about 70K views – it’s gone viral now and has over 10 million. Guess I’m not the only one who loves it! 🙂

**

7/8/13 UPDATE: I realized that the original video (which wound up getting over 32 million views) was pulled b/c of copyright violations. The original poster re-uploaded the video, so I’ve since updated the embedded video above.

Horse and Rider as Dance Partners

Kathryn is a rider and dancer.

I love this webisode that my friend Kathryn did as part of her journey gentling wild Mustangs called “To the Heart of the Mustang“.

In this episode, she departs from her typical exploration of riding and gentling technique to delve into the similarities between dance (specifically West Coast Swing) and horseback riding.

Most dancers can relate to having an epiphany while dancing, along the lines of, “This is JUST like ______!”

Partner dances such as salsa and tango frequently remind me of the give and take, the love and surrender, and the shared conversation of a romantic relationship. As we learn new dance techniques, there are so many embedded lessons about how we live in our bodies, how we navigate our emotions and how we interact with others.

Kathryn does a terrific job of breaking down the similarities between her experience learning swing and her experience gentling and riding horses. As a dancer who’s terrified of riding horses, I found this fascinating.

  • Leading and following – in both West Coast Swing and riding, the leader “asks for the step” by leading the follower in where to put their feet, but both have input into the process.
  • Connection – the body is used to communicate the steps and the hands establish another point of connection (novice dancers – and riders too, I suspect – usually think the hands control the lead, but it is the body).
  • Tempo – in dance, music creates the tempo; in riding, the horse creates the tempo through its stride, breathing and heartbeat.
  • Balance – both partners must be able to hold their own and stay connected. (I’ve seen this in dance – if your partner is gripping, pulling, or flailing, one or both of you are not strongly balanced on your own.)

Take a look at the video to see Kathryn’s dancing and riding and hear her excellent analysis of the connection between the two. She’s even thinking of setting up some kind of class or workshop to explore both passions together!

I’m wondering if my comfort with and love for dance could help me get over my fear of riding horses (I had a bad “runaway” horse experience many years ago).  Hmmm….could make for a good episode of Follow My Lead 🙂

And talk with me in the comments – what connections have you experienced between dance and another life activity?

Am I a Ballet Snob? Or Just in Love?

Sometimes I feel like a snob when I talk about ballet.

I started dancing at around age four and ballet was the first class I took. I studied it for ten years more and have always felt that it forms the basis of any abilities I have in movement, balance and grace.

Basically, I can dance, because I’m a dancer. And I’m a dancer because of ballet.

So, of course, I’m a big proponent of dancers starting to learn with ballet. If I have a child, I hope to send him or her to ballet class as early as possible.

The technique you learn in ballet stays with you for the rest of your life. The mechanics of moving your body to be soft and strong, to leap, jump and land, to turn and spin, to move slow and move fast: ballet teaches it all. I believe that if you study ballet, you can more easily learn other dances because  you have already integrated an essential gracefulness and consciousness of movement.

But, see, this sounds kind of snobby.

I mean, not everyone can take ballet classes. Not everyone has access to them and not everyone can afford them. Plus, there are plenty of gorgeous dancers who dance from a foundation formed through many other techniques: modern , African, Latin, etc. I don’t want to fall into cultural snobbery – “THIS is the RIGHT way to dance” – because it’s far too easy to contribute to the denigration of other cultures’ own traditions. Every dance form has something to offer in terms of beauty, grace and strength – and cultural relevance (which is why I want to learn them all).

The thing is, I love ballet.

It’s not just that I believe that it is “the best”. Dancing ballet sparked something in me.

I was reminded of that when I watched this video. I was so mesmerized and so moved.

And I thought, ballet is the pure expression of beauty and grace. So, so perfect in every single movement. It wants nothing more than to be pure, perfect movement.

I imagine that as I continue with this project, to learn all of the world’s dances, that I will develop new ideas about ballet and discover new ways to experience dance through other forms.

For now, watch and tell me: How do you feel when you see this? Does it move you too?

A Little Salsa Inspiration: Life Eternal through Music & Dance

Celia Cruz was fucking awesome. ¡Azucar!

One of my favorite Celia Cruz songs is “Yo Viviré”. If you don’t know Celia, she was one of the most accomplished and beloved salsa singers of our time (and hearing her song “La Vida Es Un Carnival” in Costa Rica for the first time started my love affair with salsa dancing).

She released the song “Yo Viviré” shortly before her death in 2003. It sounds like a salsa version of the Gloria Gaynor disco hit “I Will Survive”. But if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you’ll hear that Celia isn’t saying “I will survive”; she’s saying “I will live on”.

En el alma de mi gente, en el cuero del tambor

En las manos del congero, en los piés del bailador

Yo viviré, allí estaré

~

In the soul of my people, in the leather of the drum,

In the hands of the conga player, in the feet of the dancer,

I will live on, I will be there.*

The entire song is a tribute to the eternal love, language and relationship between singer, musician and dancer. Every beat, every step, every note that we experience came from somewhere. And when we sing, play or dance, we embody it all – the people, the culture, the history, the emotions – and we create a new legacy.

It’s not a little thing. It’s a part of the human experience to enjoy, savor, to revel in. Take a few minutes to listen to the song and dance, sing or play wherever you are. Know that it’s not just you dancing, singing or playing –  it’s all of us.

 

*My quick Spanish translation, may not be perfectly accurate, but it’s damn close.

Can Dance Save Us from Horrible PowerPoint Presentations?

John Bohannan explains quantum physics with a team of dancers.

For most of us, we associate dance with entertainment and self-expression. But what if it could be harnessed for more?

This amazing TEDx Brussels video features John Bohannon’s “modest proposal” that dance can and should be used for scientific and even political discourse.

Words often make tough issues harder to understand – and easier to pass off as logical or justifiable – says Bohannon. But the human body in motion can express complex ideas powerfully and rapidly. Just watch as he explains quantum physics with the use of a team of dancers – I actually understood most of it!

In fact, many scientists are already using dancers to model complicated theories before testing them in the lab. I absolutely love this marriage of “right” and “left” brain thinking. We are powerful beings with great mental capacities, but we can rise to even greater levels of expression and innovation when we honor and explore our artistic and spiritual forms of communication too.

Check out the video and let me know what you think. Do you see a connection between science and art? Are you moved by the images of dancers as forms for both education and inspiration?

Hat tip: Michelle Baity