Dance changed my life.
I want to share it with you.
Socializing was always difficult for me. I could never understand social settings, and by extension - how to act in them.
Every conversation was draining; my inability to understand others' behaviors and patterns, interpret conversations in productive ways and responding appropriately caused severe miscommunication.
I couldn't even tell someone laughing at me from laughing with me.
Since I was just not "getting it" whenever it came to human interactions, I was extremely defensive, and it hurt my ability to create relationships.
A disconnected child
I was (still am) an extremely emotional person, meaning I experience emotions very strongly, constantly, but in my home there was little place to be emotional, or anything that isn't "rational". We practiced sarcasm, down-playing emotions, and I was taught how to fake my behavior around people in order to advance relationships. Rather than dealing with the problem, I learned to mask it.
When I found dance, I got hooked. At first, it was movement that hooked me - the details, the angles, the techniques...but over time I realized it was social dancing that I fell in-love with.
I could finally express myself, no boundaries, no judgement. Expressing myself authentically through movement was natural for me, unlike the difficult task of talking to people.
I decided to follow dance around the world, expand my knowledge and shape my life around it.
I found a master, hidden in plain sight. His name is Shabba-Doo, one of the street dance legends, and the best teacher I ever had.
In my training with him, I was exposed to a deeper layer of expression - using dance as a language, with words, punctuation, and tones. He took an acting technique called "The Meisner Technique" (by Sanford Meisner) and united it with his almost 50-years of experience in dance.
The result was a unique style that is 100% authentic and present, recognizes the dancer as a storyteller and emotions as a universal layer of communication. I learned to tell story through emotions, through dance, and tell it clearly - for now I learned that I will only move with intention, only if something makes me move, the main principle of the Meisner Technique.
These teachings inspired the work that I publish here and the workshops I teach.
I turned more seriously into partner dancing, specifically Brazilian Zouk.
During dances, I started experiencing deeper connection with my partners when I applied the principles of dance as a language. I communicated my feelings authentically, inspiring my partners to do the same, and in that safe space we could be ourselves, together, without judgement.
With time I learned that while communicating my feelings through dance comes naturally to me, for many others it might be the opposite.
Dance = Movement + Emotion
Observing dance classes and teachers across the world, priorities are obvious - when teaching dance, the focus lies almost entirely on movement, and rarely on the social aspects of dance, although in recent times the focus on comfort and emotional safety is taking a bigger place in classes.
We came to dance for the human experience, whether it's because our blood is flowing faster or we experience deep connections with others. With the lack of balance in classes, it is easy to get lost in the journey to develop our dance technique (which is the primary aspect of dance), and forget why we came.
We need to be reminded constantly about that goal in dance - we use movement as a tool to express ourselves and tell our story, and not as "the goal".
I realized that if I wanted to experience more of that connection, and not only when I met people like me (which was rare), I need to understand the process of "opening up", of why we feel and show empathy, of becoming present and authentic about deep, scary feelings.
By understanding it, I can share it with others and teach it, creating a better, safer space to express for everyone.
I started developing workshops addressing those topics, and eventually partnered up with a fellow enthusiast, Taylor Kinney, who helped me approach this from a more scientific angle, which helped make sense of a lot of things I lacked to tools to describe, and expanded my horizon.
We understood that we can learn how to feel better in our experiences with ourselves an with others, and it all starts with understanding more about how our feelings work, how social settings affect those feelings, and how our behavior affects others.
Sharing the love
Many traits that might be conceived as "fixed" can be learned: being present and truthful even when it feels "wrong"; feeling empathy through understanding emotions and how they come to life; recognizing the effect of social behaviors, both our own and others'; and creating a safe space to allow the people present to be truly themselves, whether just us or a partner too.
I see dance as a sum of emotion and movement. I want to balance it out, and bring more emotional education into the dance world.
All emotions are valid in dance, we don't have to "put on a happy face" or expect someone else to, if we can understand each other.
This blog was meant the spread knowledge around those areas in dance that go unspoken - "Everything but the dance" - to simplify and make accessible ideas that might stay hidden forever under the veil of academia lingo and link mazes.
I hope you enjoy!
If you have any question, need clarification or want to share an idea, please contact me!