Friday, June 28, 2013

Becoming a Dance Teacher

A conversation in the car after the West Coast Swing dance:
ME: I like dancing to the bluesy West Coast Swing songs.
FRIEND: I like the hip hop songs!
ME: I guess that goes to show you can dance West Coast Swing to just about any type of music!

At the West Coast Swing club, the older gentleman I was dancing with was telling me to FEEL out the music and don't rush the moves. Take as much time as I want and finish doing my thing before coming back to him on the forward walks. By the end of the night, he was smiling and praising me. "You need to have confidence in this dance, and you got confidence! You got confidence!" he said.

There's nothing like going through Valley Social Dance Teacher's College to convince me that to dance well, you have to be comfortable with your own body. Dance is about being comfortable in your own skin. Even if you don't feel entirely confident, the more you dance and learn, you will develop poise and then confidence.

Our male dance instructor drills us on moving from our torsos and dancing with our bodies, not our feet. This is our constant goal, progressing from the beginner who thinks of all figures in terms of what their feet are doing to realizing that the feet react to what is initiated from your center. When you walk down the street, for example, you don't walk feet first. You lead your movement from your core and rib cage.

Our dance teacher's college is teaching us to dissect our movements and then see how they fit together as a whole and with our partner, from the elements of footwork to dance positions to lead and follow and arm styling.
This week we learned about developing professional poise and how to stand like a dance teacher, feet close together, weight evenly distributed on both feet when not demonstrating. Two arm positions only: straight down at your sides OR bent at a 90 degree angle ready to gesture. Sound meticulous? But it make sense. Stand this way while mentally repeating "I am a dance teacher, I am a dance teacher" (JUST KIDDING!) and you start feeling empowered!

We learned the secret that distinguishes a dance teacher from a student is the tone in their body. Tone comes from the practice, practice, practice of engaging your muscles. A dance teacher often carries himself or herself with dignity. .

-Wear appropriate, attractive clothing
-Be clean and well-groomed
-Be heard, but don't shout
-Be respectful and attentive toward students
-Use your best technique when dancing and demonstrating
-Do not "slump" when you are not actively teaching
-When you stand and walk, your students should still see that you are a dancer.

I like it. Essentially, you proclaim with your body who you are, that you are a dancer - whether you are dancing or teaching or observing others dance.

"The body expresses the person" is the philosophy weaved throughout JPII's Theology of the Body discourses. When we dance, we proclaim with our bodies the truth of who we are. The strength of a man's lead and his follower's feminine response is both mysterious and magical to watch, for the truth of who we are is marvelously astounding.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful!" 
(Psalm 139: 14)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

That These Things Matter

So this is me basically grabbing Facebook by the throat and strangling it. Not that I hate it. Actually I love it, I love it, I love it TOO much!

I've had an interesting "relationship" with Facebook over the past eight years. In college, I both embraced Facebook for a while and then scorned it and left, clearing all my personal information and photos so as little trace of me could be found. Then I lived, yes, I thrived for over three years without Facebook and did just fine. So why did I ever come back?

Last winter, I thought I had a few reasons to justify my entrance back onto Facebook.  1) I didn't want to be a hypocrite on my resume. I wanted to show how savvy I was in social media for all those jobs (most in my field) that require social media skills. I knew I could be adept at it as a twenty-something in the 21st century age, but in order to prove to potential employers that I could excel in social media, I felt I should actually, well, employ it. And I wasn't sure LinkedIn or blogging was enough.  2) If Facebook were a horse and I were riding it, I figured I could round up more readers to my blog, and that would benefit me professionally. 3) Basically, it all converged on the fact I was a lonely single looking to connect with people and stay connected with friends from afar.

Those all seemed fair reasons enough to join, but truth is: I've had no potential employers suddenly chasing me down for my impressive social media skills. I've written less blog posts since discovering I could be lazy and simply post one-line updates instead of lengthy, thoughtful, creative discourse. I am still single, and occasionally lonely.

So it didn't solve my problems. No big deal. But has it made me a better person?

Through my experience, Facebook encourages passivity. As I sit there scrolling through news, looking for something that will make me laugh, think, sigh or bring a smile to my day, I tend to find myself always wanting more, never satisfied. And suddenly the hour is shot. I didn't do anything intentional with my life. I made no heroic choices. I took no risks. I just tried to get life to play on me.

People are looking for meaning, especially in today's virtual world. People are looking for loving attention. Hey, that's why I made the decision to throw some of my freelance writing jobs out the window and go take a lower-paying job at a bookstore - to break away from the virtual into the real.

I was reading an essay by a college student yesterday who wants to be a Missionary of Purity, and what she said struck me as true, whether you apply it to sexual purity or anything we do. "I think in our culture, especially the college culture, it is easy to think that your actions and the way in which you use your body don't matter. Yet, what Christ is challenging us to do on a daily basis is to understand that everything we do, every action in our lives, no matter how minute, matters. I think this is the greatest message that needs to be conveyed to youth."

Right ho! The details of our life matter, whether they receive 99 "Likes" on Facebook or none at all.