Welcome to Part 2 of this very important topic.
Eight dance-energizing tips have already been shared in part one. Here are ten more.
These ideas, helpful for strengthening your relationships to your own dance and your dance friends, have been serving our studio, students, and community well. Please feel free to file, print and share these tips.
Anytime a global pandemic comes your way, which ought not to happen again we hope, or someone you know feels they are losing their mojo, these ideas may come in handy. Even artists in other genres may find benefit from this two-part list.
1. Take up a new prop. Journal your experiences as a personal relationship between you and your prop grows. If you need support, video tape your good and challenging moments to share with someone you trust, like your teacher, mentor, or close friends. If you are a performer or have friends who would support your new endeavor, share progress with them. Plan to show your skills this summer at a distanced back yard party!
2. Before dancing honor the body. The moving body is not to be taken for granted. Movement, even dance, is not frivolity. Revere this elixir, body movement, for it’s powerful impact on all aspects of health. Honor your time moving your amazing, miraculous body.
Consider a pre-dance ritual, such as, filling a very special tea cup or a favorite fancy glass with a special tea or drink to accompany you through your session.
Many dancers take a moment to start a new page and jot down how they feel in a journal as they begin. Note if you have any intention for that dance time.
Make this time for moving special. Hold it to your heart as important and sacred, like your body is for all it can do.
3. Dedicate your space. Do not dismay if you don’t have a spare room to dedicate to dance. Even a shared space full of everyone else’s items can be dedicated to your dance. Here is how:
Fill basket or small bin with inspiring items, such as, an amulet or symbol of your faith that reminds you to dance as if a prayer, a candle (if safe) in honor of self care or someone you love, a statuette of a dancer, a photo of you dancing, a favorite quote, a book which inspires you, a photo of a loved one who inspires you to cherish movement, crystals, stones, shells or special items that remind you dance is special, too.
In the moments before you dance, pull what appeals from your basket and set it in a spot that you can see. Just the act of taking the item(s) out and placing them in your eye sight is an act of self care. Send a message to yourself that this space is now dedicated to something special – you.
Of course, if you have a dedicated space, you can enjoy doing more, such as, draping sumptuous fabrics on your furniture or windows, arranging pillows, setting up meaningful collectables, candles, flowers, and even artwork (do you know of www.elisabethclarkart.com?).
No matter where you are, take a moment before you begin and transform your space into your dance temple.
4. After movement self care. For most people a few luxurious moments of stretching and deep breathing are part of winding down. Many dancers also enjoy a refreshing cup of tea and some stillness for reflection or journaling about their experience. The nurturing nature of asking yourself how the body felt that day, what it needs now, and even inviting gratitude, technical dance observations, and spiritual epiphanies are a part of many dancer’s journeys. Prayer time, meditation, and a quick nap before returning to routine life can be a part of this after-dance time, too.
FYI: Even while others are present, you can stay with them but retreat to your mat and this mind set of nurturing of your body, mind, and spirit. Breathe deeply into each part and give your body the attention it needs because it showed up for you, your health, your mind, and spirit!
5. Acting and Creativity work: In our studio’s online classes, I’ve been teaching Acting for Belly Dancers as a means of unleashing a fun blast of creativity. We created a Wizard of Oz/belly dance mashup last session. Everyone was motivated to get off the couch and then thrilled with what they created. Try a class like this or make up your own acting and creativity-inspired explorations.
Example: what does a dancing to a poetry reading look like? What if you are dancing to your own written monologue about (name the topic), etc.? Change it up and challenge your creativity!
6. Performers and wannabes, get into a show! There is nothing like a show for generating goals, structure, and motivation. Contact your teacher. Ask if there is anything coming up involving submitting pre-recorded videos or using a live streaming platform (those can be a little more challenging).
Offer to help support the creation of such a show. Maybe your teacher can collaborate with a more experienced show producer and help make a venue for her students.
Or, instigate a casual show yourself! As weather is warming up here in New England, a simple goal might be a back yard event for a few dance friends. Abiding by your local guidelines, guests bringing their own food and snacks, and providing a set of portable speakers can make for a very fun event that you can produce yourself! Performers… go for it!
7. Moving Meditation. There are countless ways to dance meditate.
One low pressure, self nurturing experience might seem like “free style jamming” because it is! Encourage yourself to enjoy moving in any way, play with any pedestrian gesture, dance any dance genre that comes to you, act on any instinct in your body, mind, or spirit. Music can be anything: Try reverent, playful, instrumentals, songs you don’t know (which can be the most effective at helping you get into the moment). The idea is to truly heighten your awareness of body’s leadings, inner stories and emotions, and, of course, the sounds and “being” them in a non-judgmental way.
Or, try: whirling, P.O.F. games (listed in part 1), make a music set list based on a life experience, such as, facing and finishing taxes .
There are dance meditation groups, classes, and pioneers, such as, Dunya. (dancemeditation.org) If you need help getting started, seek these out and enjoy.
8. Uplift others. There are reasons to feel blue or out of step with our usual selves. Some of us have lost loved ones, been separated, or suffered anxiety about these situations. Most of us have lost sleep on behalf of the elders we love and children as they’ve had to deal with this situation. We’ve lost our usual routines including our usual dance life.
Talking with professionals can help, moving is a known mood helper, getting rest is important, good nutrition, of course, is important as are treats in moderation, and self care including the non-fun items like lifting weights and doing the laundry.
Also consider this possible remedy for fatigue from facing life’s difficulties: Step away from your own thoughts and dedicate some time to others. Compliment a dancer in your Zoom class. Post an uplifting note and photo about a dancer you know. Call a missing person and ask how they are. Find a minute to say “How are you” to the teacher, the class mates, just before or after class. These tips don’t have to be just for your dance friends, of course. Ask the person at the register how they are. Send a card to a relative or friend. Volunteer. Donate if you have the means. Send a fun photograph via text to a friend.
By focusing on another for a few minutes we may well return to our issues with a slightly adjusted perspective for the better.
9. Witness dancers finding themselves. Recently we re-opened the boutique for in-person shopping. I became so moved by what I saw. The look in the dancers’ eyes as they showed up was foggy. They presented with low energy and seemed slightly lost. Then, they began to light up as they adorned their hips. Seeing themselves as dancers again, they seemed to find their identity, to remember the past life. Language changed and they became willful to fight, dance, create. Seeing this magic in action motivated me to find myself on a deeper level, to adorn myself more, and to keep working on behalf of all the community in my area to ensure we have chances to dance.
10. Make no major decisions right now. Yes, we are still in a pandemic where, in the Northeast, our gatherings are not yet safe. Our states of mind, once deeply moved and identified with our connections to each other, may feel empty and devoid of excitement at times and resistant to trying new things. Still, don’t do anything rash, such as, declare harsh self-narratives of non-dance for your future based on a temporary lifestyle we are dealing with for a little while longer.
Trust. You are still you – the person who loved dancing, uplifting others, seeing dance, and being a part of a class. Your feelings of joy and enthusiasm may very well return when that lifestyle is again an option. Until then, trust and try a few new approaches.
There are people in every art, business, and lifestyle quitting and feeling bodies and minds stiffening up and closing down. Yes, this is true.
At the same time, though, there are people in every art, business, and lifestyle who are trying new things, reinventing, and actually growing and opening up!
If you make any major decisions right now, let them be to try gently. To try compassion, to try baby steps, to try nurturing your dance persona in a new way, try something a little bit differently, to try to be open minded, and to resist super harsh narratives and major moves away from the things you love.
Those are the last 10 of 18 tips for re-energizing your dance during a pandemic.
I hope they come in handy as they have for me and many I am in touch with here and even abroad!
I’ll leave you with this springtime metaphorical wish:
Like the small and mighty flowers in the Northeast, you are about to bloom after a long, cold winder. The world will greatly benefit from a color-filled dance garden; your community, classes, shows, and positive people. The bright and new energy that you, a special breed called dancers, bring to life will be absolutely delightful to everyone. Meanwhile, every flowering soul you finally can see when the rain stops in your dance garden will will be an absolute delight to you! Hang on. Nurture your love of music, dance, and health so that when these clouds pull up, you are there to experience a world full of color and vitality.
With love, Aurel