A diverse crowd attends the West African and Brazilian dance classes in downtown Tucson, men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Witnessing bold action has a generous effect. It gives us all permission to be so bold. It encourages us to detach from the judgment of our egos. The drummers sense our vibration and feed it back to us, driving us to greater expression. At times, we are carried into a trance-like state.
When I was a young teen learning classical ballet, I used to crack down on myself severely. If I didn’t get a step right, I would literally pound my head out of frustration. My inner script was full of disdain. How did that affect the development of my skills? It had a drastically negative effect, I’m sure. I might have still worked hard, but constant comparison to others and negative self-talk sabotaged my efforts. Even if I was cast as a fairy, I was typecast by my own ego as a failure.
When we let our egos carry the moment, we punish ourselves for not being enough. The flow of energy is interrupted. We might look to an isolated moment and outweigh its importance, judging upon external images. In these times, we are not honoring humanity and life, especially our own. Definitely not fostering our growth.
If we could block out our vision and focus on the other senses, what would it feel like to dance? Imagine. I remember when a teacher suggested the idea of dancing blind while performing ballet barre. Eyes closed, the familiar shapes and patterns took colorful forms in my head, while I held the barre and gained a new sense of balance. I was no longer confused by my mirror image, the one that spewed discouragement.
I witness similar harsh judgment among some of my dance students. When introduced to new situations, or when trying new skills where we don’t feel like instant experts, how do we avoid a harsh internal tone of judgment? If we don’t invite ourselves to act boldly, by making big, bold mistakes on occasion, how is that going to play out for us? Sometimes we take a risk and end up regretting it, but not usually. And why focus on that possibility? As the saying goes, “Opportunity dances with those out on the dance floor.”
It is my goal to accept and support everyone I witness who makes brave, bold acts throughout their day. Perhaps this week to notice the bold acts among my students. Not the bold acts that lead them to get into trouble, but those that demonstrate positivity and support for others. Those that inspire growth.
Judging myself harshly has led me down a path in which I judged others harshly too. Lately, when tempted to judge people’s dancing qualities, I wonder, what does it matter to me? They’re not making their living as performing artists. They’re being themselves. It’s the values that I attach to a performing context that flavor my perception. Dancing is just recreation for many people. Talk about separating work and life…
Lately, I have deepened my interest in the potential of healing energy through dance. The empowerment of self-healing, in which the ego would be uprooted from the its place in the center of our consciousness, helps us tune into our bodies and the earth, and respond to universal vibrations. In this concept of dance, it is not productive to focus on external factors. Beginners may have lots left to learn, but their potential for expression is no less than anyone else. More experienced or trained dancers have the same challenge of de-centering their egos to bring about healing energy and growth.