Dance, dance, dance … in the new year | Moment's Notice

By Maria A. Montalvo | Jan 05, 2019

RuPaul, the TV personality and author, recently lamented that we no longer dance in America.

Dancing and gathering together as a community was very important in his young life and career in New York City, but he also remembered it as a great way to let off steam, express yourself, and connect a community (not just sit to drink or eat or stare at screens).

Some of us still dance, but maybe 2019 needs to be the year to bring back dancing as formal part of our entertainment rotation.

Why, you ask? Well, I love to dance.

Also, if I had to pick one memory of my parents, one that represented their love and relationship and how they navigated this world together, it is them dancing (salsa-son, rumba, bomba, etc.). The way they danced mirrored their individuality and their compatibility.

My mother is intrinsically in the rhythm of each different song, using just the right steps and expressive motions, fully aware of everyone around her and their varying levels of dance acumen, while still being completely focused on my father and enjoying the moment.

My dad, on the other hand, steady and subtle in his movements, overcomes past feelings of discomfort of being on display while embracing the joy of quality musicians and the time with my mom, when worries melt away.

We humans have been dancing for at least 30,000 years, according to cave drawings, and then, dance was as much a part of culture and ritual as entertainment. Until modern times, history was handed down through storytelling, and before we developed a written or sophisticated spoken language, it was a visual storytelling process, or dance.

Dancing tells a story – from recounting a narrative history of a leader’s journey with his tribe during the Ice Age to that of two people together in a moment.

Dancing signifies an important tool for social interaction and communication. Research into our prehistoric ancestors shows the ability to dance may have been a factor in survival.

Individuals who were able to use motion effectively to communicate needs, express wants, or tell stories were better able to bond with others, create a protective group, and perpetuate the species.

In a nutshell, early humans who had rhythm had an evolutionary advantage.

Dancing is good for you.

It supports your immune system by strengthening muscles and encouraging physiological processes. When you dance, you impact your levels of stress and tension, reduce fatigue and increase your sense of vitality and positivity. I

It is, after all, fun, but it also helps your mind and body connect while you focus on rhythm and music, silencing the ever-present hum of daily tasks and pressures, and releasing all those endorphins.

I recently heard about a new trend in the Puget Sound area – freeform dance. It is, well, dancing – not ballroom or salsa or country, but unchoreographed dancing to music.

However, there is a facilitator and a set time (usually in the morning) to meet in a studio or a gym. I prefer a DJ and a dance club, the way I remember it at the Big Apple (an under-21 dance club where the ’80s New Wave played all night long) or a band and a stage (losing yourself in the cacophony of musical instruments, Duran Duran lyrics that changed your life, and the cries of happiness all around).

Like my parents, my husband and I treasure the opportunity to dance together, sometimes at a show, but often at home, listening to our favorite songs.

We dance to bring to mind younger days or wonderful moments or to let go of stress, but mostly because we love to dance.

So, as we begin this new year and contemplate how to celebrate this beautiful, complicated ride of life we are on, perhaps music and dance would rekindle our most basic human needs for connection and sharing our stories, and just having fun.

 

 

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