I heard one word from my dance teacher more often than any other. (And no, it isn’t “ouch.”) The word is “wait.” Apparently I was not a fan of standing in place until he signaled us into motion.
Ballroom dance exercises more than the body; it stretches your mind in a way that modern solo-type dancing does not because it forces you to lead or follow. You’re literally thinking on your feet. The New England Journal of Medicine covered the potential for partner-style dancing to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and Stanford University’s dance teacher Richard Powers offers a summary of the study and the way dance may affect your “cognitive reserve.” I feel a relaxed shift in focus whenever I’m dancing that reminds me of my experiences on the yoga mat.
The funniest part of my lessons would happen when the instructor introduced a series of new steps that I mysteriously understood. Sometimes, he’d make a sound, walk away, return and say, “You shouldn’t be able to do that yet. Let’s try it again.” Such magic can’t always be replicated, especially when the student becomes self-conscious after an announcement like that. Ahem. Practice is required.
My writing and editing business brings me happiness, and such work also underscores the benefits of dedication over time. Learning to write fiction, even for a full-time copywriter, is like learning to dance. Sometimes I let my manuscript sit for awhile before attempting major revisions, and I know I’ll read a few beautiful paragraphs that surprise me. Lovely words I often don’t remember writing will be surrounded by a beginner’s fumblings. I laugh. A lot. I cut and delete. A lot.
Our affection for instant results can make us forget the joy of discovery.
Dancing requires a steady receptivity to your partner and to the next moment of unexpected flow, and those lessons changed my posture, how I carry my body and move through life. Every day is rich with opportunities to exercise our talents while we collect a few new skills. Dance lessons taught me that.