Love the Life You Lead. Fall 2013.
DAY TEN. Lori Rose
What do you need to let go of this season in order to DANCE?
I never thought I could dance. I was shy, self-conscious, assumed I did most things wrong, and came to the conclusion amongst many other skills I couldn’t master, that I wasn’t a dancer. My earliest memory of humiliation due to movement/putting myself out there happened when I was six. My class was playing charades, and my group received the challenge to act as flamingos. I didn’t know what a flamingo did. So instead of asking, I tried to pretend like I knew and follow the crowd. Duh. The boy in front of me started hopping on one leg, and I followed suit. But then, he fell, awkwardly throwing his hands out and rolling on the floor. I, of course, followed him. When I arose and heard laughter, I absolutely froze in the realization of what had happened. And how ridiculous I looked.
Fast forward 29 years. My self-doubt took me on all kinds of destructive journeys – including disordered eating, lack of boundary setting, target of bullying, and unhealthy relationships. But somewhere along the line, I found myself wandering into an Arthur Murray dance studio after college and applying for a job. One of the elegant instructors took my hand and led me to the dance floor, where I proceeded to feel like the stumbling flamingo for many months. Mirrors surrounded us during our work days, which I HATED. I learned to turn my attention to my students, who of course were just as scared as I was to put themselves out there. Subtly, somehow, surrendering to the warmth of the music and movement, I realized one day that I was never going to look like the other instructors in the mirror. The only way I was going to dance would be if I moved HOW I MOVE. Wiggled how I wiggle. Over the years I slowly branched out into other kinds of dance. My mentors always had the same advice: “Just LET GO.”
After a whole lot of stumbling to the ground and getting back up again (“Fall down seven times, get up eight” remains my favorite Japanese proverb), I now realize the depth of what it means to let go, and the dire importance of practicing this daily.
Letting go means to trust yourself instead of blindly following the guy in front of you.
Letting go means asking for what you need.
Letting go means recognizing the forms that no longer serve you and finding the courage to release them.
Letting go means listening to your intuition when it is time to move on.
Letting go means opening up space within yourself to receive love.
Letting go means knowing that once you’re able to fill up as your most illuminated self, you can GIVE your gifts back to the world.
Letting go means surrendering to your imperfect nature, knowing your inherent worth, and DANCING.
Today, I don’t buy it when someone tells me “I don’t dance.” Just try putting music on in front of babies, and see if they stoically refuse to move. I now use dance to teach courage, compassion and healthy connection – the building blocks of love so brilliantly described by one of my favorite role models, Brene Brown. Love has to begin within us. It is not about “finding love” or even “falling in love;” it is about realizing that WE ARE LOVE. Dance and movement open our breath, our limbs and our souls. In turn, we open to ourselves. Love doesn’t only exist out there by that ocean we don’t live next to. It exists right here, within us, within all of our sisters and brothers on this earth. Letting go starts within us, with self-compassion. When we no longer see the mirror as a reflection of our awkwardness, but a reflection of the unique magic within every one of us, we begin to see sparks of light everywhere.
In my Zumba classes, we groove in a big group. We start out every class reminding ourselves to move how we move and wiggle how we wiggle. As we let go, we generate laughter, power, some whoops and hollers, and ultimately, peace. In my salsa dance classes and additional element comes into play: Connection. The most common struggles I see are men using uncomfortable tactics in attempt to fulfill the “lead” role, and women fighting the “follow” role by trying to guess the next steps and ignoring attempted signals from their partners. As a feminist, I have struggled with the “lead” and “follow” terms, as I know absolutely everyone is equally powerful. But I have realized dancing NEVER compromises our equality, leadership or power. We are here to celebrate each other’s uniqueness and lift each other. As our true, empowered selves, I believe we will heal the world. The role of “leading” is really a matter of getting out of the way, so that one’s partner is able to complete the step in her full power. The role of “following” is about letting go of the need to control every moment. It’s about not knowing what is going to happen next, but stepping into it in our full uniqueness and power, and really living the experience. Together, this constant exchange of giving and receiving, respecting each other’s space, and allowing each other to embody our true light and power creates absolute magic.
Last year my dancing peeps and I took things a step further, and joined the global One Billion Rising movement to reach out to thousands of others, using dance as a way to come together and stand against violence and abuse. We opened up a whole new avenue of healing that we plan to continue, spreading love and respect for all through dance and movement. This video shows some snippets of our OBR journey.
Dancing is about the most fundamental aspect of who we are. Through dance, we reclaim our bodies. We reclaim our essence. We reclaim our power. And it is not material power, nor is it power over anyone else. It is primordial power. It comes from the earth and it’s an innate part of every one of us. It is the power to heal, the power to speak our truth, and power to change the world. It is what evokes others to rise and claim their own being. In order to rise, we often have to shed the parts that no longer serve us – for instance, our old stories, our identity of trauma survivor, or our lack of courage to ask when we don’t know how to imitate a flamingo. What do you need to let go of this season in order to move forward as your truly empowered self?