After two and a half months in Kenya, I’m back! That also means I’ve had a two-and-a-half-month break from dancing. Uh-oh. That’s bad, right?
5 Reasons to Take a Break:
5. Passion for Partnership
The work is long, bent over the 1.5-million-year-old soils all day in the equatorial heat. Sometimes, as today, I like to think of a particular move or motion from dance and relive it in my mind’s eye. Today it’s a natural spin turn with one of my partners, Tijen. Pivot, whoosh! I feel our counterbalance as I swing from inside to outside the turn, our momentum pausing for a fraction of a second at the top before curving back down the other side. What a great feeling! I smile blissfully for a second at the scorpion making his home near my foot.
I couldn’t fully appreciate how great my partners are without taking a break from dancing with them. When you build a connection with someone over two years, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to not have a partner that knows you so well. Luckily, my break was prescribed by opportunities in my academics instead of problems in the partnership, but it taught me the same lesson: appreciate those who chose to dance with you. Without them, you’re just dancing by yourself. I’m looking forward to a semester of renewed appreciation for the two talented women who choose to dance with me.
4. Bad Habits Die Hard (But Good Habits Die Harder)
Any significant break from practice is going to have a negative effect on some parts of your dancing. However, not all habits are created equal: it has been my experience that you lose the bad habits in your dancing more quickly than the good ones. If you have a bad habit (and who among us does not?), on some level, you have allowed it to become normal for your dancing. Even though it may be holding you back, your muscle memory seeks out this position.
A break allows you to experience your dancing with a clean slate. I can feel that dropped left side in promenade without instantly ignoring it now. Sure, some points of good technique will leak out, but only those that you weren’t fully applying to begin with. This can be incredibly useful.
3. Trees Become a Forest
Similar to the previous point, it’s easier for me to see my dancing as a whole when I’m no longer focusing on the minutiae every day. You can spend hours perfecting your crossover break or weeks working on your link, both to great effect, but sometimes the tail wags the dog: the lust for an effortless three-step lets you ignore your faulted feather. It’s worthwhile to take a step back (no, not just a rock-step) and check out your dancing as a forest, not just the trees that make it up. You may even notice some patterns that you were unable or unwilling to see before. Either way, your dancing only stands to benefit.
2. Pride Takes a Side-Step, then a Back-Step
My deadly sin of choice? Pride. As I discussed a few months ago, it’s been with me a long time. When you construct a lot of your identity around your dancing (and how it’s judged against others’), it can be tricky to navigate friendships in dance. Everyone is either catching up to you or you should be beating them already. That’s really not a healthy way to go about things, at least not if you want any friends. Taking a break from dancing has given me some perspective on the issue and made me appreciate those who are fellow travelers on the dance journey. Sure, maybe I compete against them on the floor, but of all people out there, they alone can commiserate and celebrate dancing at our level! Hopefully you’ll find the same.
1. Dance Won’t Let You Get Away
It really won’t. Perhaps one of its greatest benefits, a break will show you just how much you miss dance as a whole. Your favorite cha comes on, and the Muggles surrounding you don’t have a clue. How can you not dance to this, people?! Your friends post all the photos from the latest comp and play a sad, jealous song on your heartstrings. Your feet feel weird from not dancing. You start upper-body-dancing in your seat whenever music is on so you can get a partial fix. Everything reminds you of dance. Dance won’t let you get away.
Maybe my addiction is just stronger than most, but that has been my experience.
Mr. Musical Bartender, I’ll take another round of standard, please.
What the hell, make it a double.