There’s a video I love called why I dance. It was made by the Ontario Arts Council to promote dance in their community, and it is a beautiful exploration of what it means to be a dancer. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it.
Lately I’ve been wondering about the reasons people dance – about the reasons I dance. And I’ve been thinking that this is a great theme to explore with my students. I’m going to show my extension dancers this video this week and see what their responses are. Who knows, maybe we’ll even make our own version!
I’ll let you know how it goes.
It took me many years to grow into myself as a dancer. Part of that was physically growing into the grace of my own body as a teenager, part was finding a style that was truly me, and part was finding my own ‘voice’ so that I could communicate my stories and ideas to others. Of course, I’m really still growing into myself as a dancer and don’t expect I’ll ever actually stop.
As a teenager, my dancing was a case of you-name-it-I-did-it, except for hiphop. That just never seemed to work. It wasn’t until I was at university and took a contemporary class that I found a style I could really get on well with. I never held any high aspirations of being a dancer professionally or teacher. I just loved to dance.
But even when you love something, you can be exhausted by it. So I quit dancing and it took me 5 years to go back. That was almost two years ago. And I have my students to thank for it. They reminded me what it is to love dancing for the pure joy of it, and now I wonder how I did without it for those 5 years.
Since getting back into dance and doing more of it with my own students, I have found myself beginning to make plans and set goals. Never having aspired to be a professional dancer, it has taken me a while to find my niche in dance. But if the last few years have taught my anything, it’s that teaching dance is something I’m passionate about and want to do more of.
I’m a big believer in the power of dance to inspire us and give us something to aspire to; and this is what I love about working with my students at school. Some aspire to be professional dancers one day, but most dance simply because they love it, because they can’t imagine not dancing. I’m constantly in awe of my students, and their passion has reinvigorated my own.
I don’t know where my dance-teaching journey will lead, but, after all, it’s the journey not the destination that really counts isn’t it?
I’ve blogged for a long time and I’ve danced for a long time too, so in many ways DanceWell is the inevitable collision of the two. Having come back to dance as an adult and as a teacher, my sense of dance and understanding of the powerful role it can play in creating wellness has changed the way I view dance.
Having the benefit of seeing dance as a curriculum subject within the New Zealand schooling curriculum and over a decade of traditional syllabus based dance class experience, I wanted to find a way to marry the two. So I decided to tackle my biggest dance challenge yet – getting my teaching Licentiate for Ballet, while developing my school’s co-curricular dance programme.
Both of these have been a huge source of satisfaction for me, but have challenged me immensely to develop my understanding of dance pedagogy (teaching practice), dance theory, ballet and contemporary technique, dance history and, perhaps the most interesting to me, dance wellness.
So what is DanceWell? For now, it’s a creative space – a combination and a culmination of my learning and research. A place to share our stories of what it means to be dancers, and what it means to dance well, as well as advice on how to develop dance wellness.