Using Dance

When I told an acquaintance I was taking classical dance lessons — ballet, jazz, tap — she gave me a blank-eyed stare and said, “How do you use it?” From her point of view, the question apparently seemed logical. She had once taken ballroom dancing, and she could use her skill if/when she went to a ballroom or nightclub or wherever such dancing takes place. I have no corresponding “use” for classical dancing, though I have been invited to participate in a few performances so I have used some of the dances I know.

danceStill, in the year and a third that I’ve been going to class, I never once considered whether there was a use for dancing. If anything, it’s more that dance has a use for me. It takes me beyond myself and at the same time, takes me into myself, making me more comfortable with who I am than I’ve ever been in my entire life. (I think it has something to do with living in front of a mirror for all those hours each week.) It’s the only thing I’ve ever done that demands all of me — mind, body, spirit, strength, dedication, loyalty. (I listed “mind” first without even thinking about it, and I was going to change the order to put body first, but this is the right order. Without the mind — learning, memory, imagining — there is no dance.)

Dance is a generous taskmaster and gives back more than it demands. Although I am nowhere near as graceful, balanced, and strong as I would like to be, I have come a long way since I began taking lessons. I can feel muscles now where there used to be . . . whatever there used to be. And I am a bit more balanced and graceful than I was before. Best of all, these benefits will remain with me even when I can no longer take dance classes.

There’s no need to “use” dance. Dance is its own reason for being.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

6 Responses to “Using Dance”

  1. sumalama Says:

    Dance for you is what Tai Chi is for me. Even though I can no longer do it, just thinking of the different forms calms me, relaxes me, brings me peace. Lying in my bed, I can imagine myself flowing through the forms, like a slow motion dance, and I am one with it.

    I do so love your blog posts! Thank you!

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Though if you had to give a use for dance, I’d suspect relaxation, introspection, exercise and community would be good reasons to give, because they apparently apply to you and dance gives them to you from the sound of it.

  3. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I am glad you are getting something out of dance. I have thought about ballroom. For my generation there were the lies and half truths of disco. Both the music and dance were a betrayal of the Hippy spirit or so it seemed to me at the time and even to this day. I love Jazz music and see no betrayal there. The same can be said for ballroom.

  4. Carol Louise Wilde (Carol Wuenschell) Says:

    Absolutely! Not a dancer, myself, but what you say rings true.

  5. Constance Koch Says:

    Dance covers many things, which you have described and more. For your HEALTH. Does many things for your body. It brings my Blood Pressure down and helps to keep it down. My doctor told me,”Whatever you do, DO NOT STOP DANCING”.

  6. Coco Ihle Says:

    Pat, I’m so glad you are enjoying dance so much. I know I’ve said this before, but I think you are growing so much in this art form, you need to be reminded of that growth. I can feel the confidence it is bringing you.

    I took ballet classes for many years and it helped instill confidence in me.
    One day, after I was grown and married, I stumbled and my husband, said, “You all right, ‘Grace?'”
    I answered, saying, “Ha, ha. I’ll have you know, after all those dance lessons my mom had me take, she said I was graceful!”
    He said, with a smirk on his face, “She lied!”
    I knew he was teasing me, but I think the reason what he’s said didn’t bother me, was because I HAD gained enough confidence to know he was only teasing. His remark didn’t hurt me at all. In fact, I was able to laugh at myself and my clumsiness of the moment.

    Yup, keep on dancing!

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