How Dancing Liberated Me And Shaped My Consciousness

Posted on July 28, 2014 in Culture-Vulture, My Story, Staff Picks

By Ayushi Vig:

As I finally sit down after the night of a show, preceded by a long day of nothing but dancing, you’d think the last thing I’d want to do is write about dancing. But honestly, there isn’t anything else I’d rather write about today. I’ve spent my entire weekend with rehearsals, tech runs, and performing, and I still can’t get enough–I guess that’s how you know it’s true love.

"Dance Revolutions," performed December 9-11, 2005. With choreography by Joe Chvala, Carl Flink, Marge Maddux, Charles Moulton, Zoe Sealy, and Shapiro & Smith. Photo by V. Paul Virtucio.
“Dance Revolutions,” performed December 9-11, 2005. With choreography by Joe Chvala, Carl Flink, Marge Maddux, Charles Moulton, Zoe Sealy, and Shapiro & Smith.
Photo by V. Paul Virtucio.

Dancing has shaped me in countless ways, and I know that there is no way that I can ever begin to fully understand and appreciate its impact on me. The girl who enters the studio is a different one from the girl who leaves it, every single time that she visits.

When I first started dancing, I was painfully self-conscious. I would stand at the back of the studio, trying my best to avoid the observant eyes of my instructors and fellow students, and perhaps most of all, of the girl staring back at me in the mirror. I was incredibly uncomfortable handling my own body, and executing simple moves like body waves was an absolute nightmare for me.

I remember, as a beginner, my instructor teaching me a count of eight that involved moving one’s hands as though to almost stroke one’s own legs–and I could barely bring myself to mimic her. Frustrated at my feeble attempts, she cried out, “If you can’t touch your body, who can?!” Awkward as I felt, I realized that she had a very true, very valid point.

The miniscule sense of ownership over my own body that I began to feel that day slowly grew. Staring at myself in a mirror day after day forced me to grow comfortable with myself, to look and to see what I appeared to be to the world. Different choreographies and roles allowed me to explore different possibilities of my body as well as different sides to myself, and soon, my body and I were no longer two separate beings. I was no longer lost in my physicality, but rather, emboldened by it. I gained conviction, and my body image transformed completely.

In a world where women are constantly made to believe that their bodies are lacking in some way or the other, and where negative body image is the norm, I can honestly say that I love my body. I have never struggled with body issues, and I do believe that I owe the appreciation that I have for it all to dancing. I know that I can train my body to achieve my goals, and all the jumps and turns and movements I can do with it are truly spectacular. Of course, performing in front of an appreciative audience is an amazing confidence booster as well. Through dancing, I have learned that my body is my own to control and explore, and it is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It’s come to a point where my instructor often calls me out for constantly checking myself out in the mirror!

Of course, so much of dancing is beyond me and my body–it’s also the people around me. Dancers, I have come to believe, are some of the most passionate and dedicated people out there; you truly do have to love dancing in order to stick to it. Theirs is not a motivation that is commonly found elsewhere, simply because it is always based off of pure passion and spirit. I value determination and passion extremely highly because of these dancers who do what they love and love what they do wholeheartedly, and their energy is nothing short of inspirational. This has helped me in every other part of my life, from school to relationships with friends and family, to personal growth. All these different dancers and different bodies have also taught me that there is always something valuable to be learned from everyone you meet.

Dance can be everything–from a confidence booster to a morale killer, from happy partying to a venting of frustration, from an individual, personal connection to the formation of multiple bonds within a team, from a physical workout to a mental one. There is no end to what dance means to me. All I know is, just like any other part of me, dance and I are indivisible.

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