Updated: Jun 23, 2022
© Copyright 2021 Artwork by Cordi Neckermann
It doesn’t matter the style, gender or nationality; all dancers I’ve met along my own dance journey have one thing in common. When asked why they dance and what it means to them, the answer is always something like “because I can fully be me when I dance”. I’ve always wondered how to best explain that learning how to dance can be a wonderful adventure towards finding yourself. Whilst recently following the popular TV show 'Strictly Come Dancing' on the BBC, I finally got some inspiration.
Strictly Come Dancing
If you have never come across the Strictly Come Dancing programme, it is a dance contest which airs weekly on British television every year between the months of September and December and is a show in which a group of celebrities are paired with a professional partner to both learn and compete in Ballroom and Latin dance. The idea is to follow their journey as they go from never having danced before, to dancing at a high professional standar, demonstrating their skills through dance routines with their professional partner every week for 13 weeks. it goes without saying that this is an extremely challenging task whcih tests the mental and physical limitations of each and every participant.
The 'J' word
All the contestants go on their unique own journey and teeter on the very edge of their abilities, sometimes pushing beyond. It takes an enormous amount of determination, patience and will; not only from the dance novices but also from their professional partners. Learning how to dance is not just a physical challenge, but is also a mental and emotional challenge that brings you face to face with the stories you tell yourself about what you can or cannot do (our lovely inner critic!). No matter when or at what stage a contestant leaves the show, the J-word is always mentioned. Their journey may last a week, 4 weeks or for all 13 weeks, however learning to dance always has a life changing effect on each individual. Very often, the contestants are positively surprised by their own abilities; surprised that they can actually dance and that they managed to perform with confidence infront of a huge audience and confront their fears.
Every year, a winner emerges and is chosen after 13 weeks of sheer hard work. This year, Ms. Rose Ayling-Ellis and her professional partner Giovanni Pernice, took home the infamous glitter ball trophy. What made this win more than special than ever before is that Ms. Rose Ayling-Ellis was the very first deaf contestant in the competition. In addition to taking on the challenge of learning how to dance, she also had to overoame the obstacle of learning how to dance without hearing the music. Watching her progress through the various stages of the competition was truly breathtaking and is a testament that dancing comes straight from the heart. It is an expression of our inner passion and all you have to do, is listen deep inside yourself and trust in what you feel.
Rose described her dance learning adventure so beautifully and perfectly, bringing a tear to many an eye throughout the nation. Her last dance in the final was to the song: 'The Rose' by Bette Midler. She used the following lines from this beautoful song to describe what learning how to dance meant to her:
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose
She described herself as the seed and the opportunity of learning to dance via Strictly Come Dancing under the guidance of Giovanni, was like the love of the sun that made her grow into a beautiful rose, blossoming and understanding herself more deeply. Tears of joy flowed from the judges and spectators almost every time she stepped onto the dance floor, not only because she transformed into a beautiful dancer before their very eyes, but also because she was dancing for the deaf community in it's entirety, transcending boundaries and breaking down walls. Stepping into her power raised awareness levels for an entire community and as the show progressed, numbers of people in Britain looking to learn ASL (American Sign Language) more than doubled as a result.
Self-love and confidence
Learning how to dance will definitely boost self-love and confidence and I believe the secret is finally out! Of course, not all of us have the opportunity to participate in Strictly Come Dancing and experience such a fabulous adventure, however, there are so many amazing dance and dance fitness instructors out there who cannot wait to inspire and motivate you to begin your very own dance journey. I am one of these teachers right here in Hampstead, London. I love, love, LOVE dancing and have taught dance and dance fitness to many happy souls throughout my career.
At the moment, I teach a super-fun in person Bollywood Dance Fitness class at The Rec Club in Hampstead and for those who are super busy, I also offer a virtual online class via Zoom. If you feel inspired to give dancing a whirl and book a FREE trial class here!
Dancing can have such a positive impact on different parts of our lives, from our fitness to our mental health and I can’t wait to get you started on your very own amazing dance journey.
Let’s dance soon,