On Dancing (and Being)
November 23, 2014 § 4 Comments
So, lately, I’ve been dancing.
And loving it.
This past year has been kind of a (fun and exhilarating and much-welcomed) challenge to me… as myself.
It’s not that I didn’t have confidence in myself before, but I did not feel comfortable showing others that I had confidence in myself. I knew what I could do, and how much I was worth, but I did not want to portray that- not because I took pride in being humble or felt inferior, but merely because it almost seemed like a realization- this acknowledgement of myself- that was to be kept to myself, inside the outer layers.
Growing up, I was that quiet, nerdy, artsy girl in the corner. I took to the role. And there’s nothing wrong with it; it’s who I am it’s good. But, it was also a little bit limiting. Nerdy artist can’t put on heels and eye shadow and be sexy. That’s just odd. Out of their description. Not expected.
Well, now she can.
Because this year, I fell in love with two things that challenged that notion.
One: Italian. I fell in love with Italian, and Italy, and I wanted to be right at the heart of it. And I was, and it was glorious. And when I throw myself into my current passion, I do it whole-heartedly, not holding anything back. And I like props. So, there are accessories and reinforcements that help you experience that role- it’s hard to feel Italian sometimes when you are wearing flip flops and don’t like coffee.
I know, it’s a stereotype, and it sounds shallow. But, it felt empowering, to put on heels and nice clothing and hold a handbag and order a caffè with the same hand motion as the guy one spot over at the bar. You can’t really get the Italian intonation without confidence.
And, now, two: latin dance. I fell in love with the music, and the energy, and the movements, and what started as an innocent Sunday drive-by the salsa club to “listen to music and draw” turned into an all-night dancing session that quickly extended to all-nighters on most (all?) of my other days as well. Now, a day without an emphasized third beat feels off.
And, again, I embrace all of the things that go around the image of a latin dancer (even if I am far from one). I will put on sparkly gold heels and glittering dresses and whip out the eyeliner and find empowerment- rather than discomfort- from them. I used to be hesitant dressing up, because I thought that people would judge me as someone that I am not, and I took pride in the nerdy, artsy side. But, then I realized that it was I who judged myself more than anyone else, and who would match that judgment to that image.
Just like speaking Italian does not work when timid, neither does salsa dancing.
At first, it was just steps. Now, it’s movement that I didn’t even know my hips were capable of, and winks I didn’t know I could throw, and a heat in my heartbeat that burns, and it’s an exhilarating sensation.
And all of that contributes to the dance, and it’s good. I love it. I love dancing with people I will never talk to. I love deep, sultry bachatas with faceless strangers, and upbeat merengues with nameless figures. I love dancing with people I know well. I love fast salsas with silly friends and funky kizomba steps. I love it all; I love learning new moves and holding new hands, and I love practicing existing routines and seeing familiar smiles.
I don’t care who you are; as long as you know how to, I want to dance with you.
I can’t decline an invitation, and I can’t leave before the music stops. It’s hopeless.
Because every dance, I learn something new, and I become a little bit more playful, and I shake off some more of my shell, and I feel lighter, and energized, and happier.
And it’s great, to be a ‘someone’ comprised of multiple someone’s. Someone who is not easy to be placed under one role. Someone who is described with contrasting adjectives. Someone who has an entire shelf full of different shoes and can fit the role comfortably of each one of its characters- because in the end, it’s all the same figure.
*When I go out, I dance. But, sometimes, before stepping onto the dance floor, I take a few second to sketch. So, all illustrations are 15-second-ish sketches of poses and motions that I saw and loved. Tango, bachata, blues.