Where Shame Goes to Die

Last night, I was teaching intro to blues for the Towson University Ballroom Dance Club, and we touched upon the issue of self-consciousness in dancing. I firmly believe that to be a great dancer, you must leave your shame behind every time you step on the dance floor. You have to take risks with your body, make weird shapes, feel awkward, and be completely willing to make a fool of yourself. As my students will attest, making a fool of myself is something at which I excel.

It’s not that the goal is to make a fool of yourself. The goal is to free yourself from the critical, judgement centers of the brain to free your body to be expressive. The goal is to give yourself the permission to dance with wild abandon, with no reservations and no hesitations. Yes, you might end up looking ridiculous, but the path to looking ridiculous is strangely the same path to looking phenomenal.

Personally, I don’t think looking ridiculous is all that bad a thing to do. It can often be just as entertaining to watch a couple of dancers goofing off together as it is to watch them busting it out. Both require the same sense of abandon, and both are entertaining. I think people connect to the sense of freedom and joy you see when two people are fully expressing themselves together on the dance floor.

Of course, if you want to increase the ratio of phenomenal to ridiculous, I always encourage lots of practice. Taking time to be meticulous, precise, and thoughtful about your technique and your movements ingrains those movements into your body so that you don’t have to think about them on the dance floor. One of my favorite sayings as a teacher is, Good technique is always in the service of great expression.



Filed under Aesthetics, Blues Dancing, C-Jam, Charleston, lindy hop, Technique, Theory

4 responses to “Where Shame Goes to Die

  1. Elizabeth Farrington

    Very true!

  2. Janice

    As a Virgo who likes control and order, there are two areas in my life where I leave it all behind and become absolutely uninhibited. Dancing is one of them.

  3. Ceste

    hurray! I will never forget when I finally found this place in my dancing, when the self-consciousness died…doesn’t take much to ressurect it even w/ just the slightest mistake, it sometimes comes flying back…I find myself praying thru some dances, trying to get to that abandon, letting go moment…I’m so tightly wound inside…my fav leads know this & do everything they can to encourage me & make me laugh…dancing is such a stress reliever

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