Let there be joy
Posted by Dora
Summer is here, and it’s time to dance. Well, for me, just about any time of the year is a good time for dancing, but there’s something about the freedom and carefree spirit of summer that just brings me joy.
I first started dancing at age four. Being the first child, my parents didn’t know quite what to do with me, and so enrolled me in all types of classes. From what my mother tells me, I started out with ballet and tap classes before kindergarten. I hardly believed her until I found a pair of miniature tap shoes and ballet slippers in an old box cleaning out a closet years ago. However gifted or klutzy I may have been, however, my parents decided that piano lessons would be more beneficial in the long run, and that was what stuck.
I was reintroduced to dance in junior high school by a friend who had lots of cool moves. I remember one set of Egyptian arm moves that we would do to all the New Wave music we listened to back then. It mattered little that the boys were awkward, as long as they joined in circle of dance. In my teenage zeal, I ended up giving Book of Mormons (complete with their names printed in gold leaf on the cover) to my two best friends, and even though I don’t think they ever read it, I hope they harbor fond memories of the church youth dances that we went to.
I took dance classes throughout high school and college … whatever I could squeeze into my schedule. Modern. Jazz. Tap. Ballet. Social dance. Honestly, I wasn’t particularly good at any of them, but it was a fabulous way to keep fit and have a creative outlet.
And then it happened. I got hooked on swing …
JS and AH were friends from the Institute. They’d started taking private lessons in both swing and salsa. And they wanted to share the wealth. So it was that they gathered a small group of people at the Institute every Saturdays to show us what they’d learned that week. It was an intoxicating time of learning and camaraderie. It felt great to be dancing again, to have a creative outlet, and a concrete way to connect with other people. Plus, it was extremely therapeutic, at a time when I was very stressed. When Saturdays petered out as JS and AH got involved, and later married (other people), I knew that I had to find a way to continue dancing.
So, I started going out salsa and swing dancing on my own. I started at The Mayan for salsa and The Derby for swing. Yes, it was a little intimidating going out on my own, but I just joined the pre-dance lessons, met people, made friends, and became part of the community. After a couple of months, I decided to concentrate on swing, and have been loving it for the past nine years!
Nowadays I go out dancing about once a week. And I just love it. Lindy-hop and west coast swing are just structured enough to provide a firm foundation, but loose enough to allow for lots of improvisation and creativity within the music. And I still enjoy the exercise and opportunity to connect and create with others on a one to one basis. I’ve also had the opportunity to share my obsession with others, teaching a friend here, or a small group there. It’s the least I can do after all that JS, AH, and countless dance friends did for me. And everywhere I travel, I try to find a place to go dancing, to meet local dancers and get the feel of how the dance varies by location … I’ve savored the delights of dancing with some marvelous people in SLC, Denver, Las Vegas, Boston and Paris.
So, what about you? What are the hobbies that bring you joy? How has your involvement with them changed over time? How have you, or will you, share it with others?