So I asked my boss for a topic for this month’s blog. “The advantages of dancing,” came the reply. Truth be told, there is such a glut of info on this topic that I wasn’t sure where to start. Or if indeed I wanted to. What could I add to all the other stories that are already out there? Dancing keeps you fit – whilst having fun, strengthens your bones and so reduces the risk of osteoporosis, makes you physically stronger, thus affording you better muscle toning, is highly beneficial for one's heart and lungs, enhances aerobic endurance, keeps your weight in check and is great for boosting one's grey matter capabilities. The list goes on. And sure, who can deny that these great effects aren’t caused by dancing? Dancing does indeed bequeath unto you all these fantastic benefits, but so does kung-fu or spinning! Just what is it then that makes dancing so special to those who do it?
Perhaps it has something to do with the constant possibility of getting better at it? And whilst dancing is by no means unique in this regard, the syllabuses of most dance forms are well mapped out with a linear progression of examinations. So from a young age (...or from whenever you choose to start feeling young again) the urge for betterment is spawned and this keeps you on your toes as you strive to get more subtle, do more pirouettes and jump ever higher and higher. A dancer learns how to set goals and strives to constantly improve in whichever dance form they find themselves participants in. And this newly learned life-skill of goal-setting will not limit itself to the extra-mural world of dance but will quite naturally and effortlessly spill over into the dancer’s everyday life. This is a good thing.
You know that feeling when you’re climbing up a hiking trail and you look up and the summit still looks as far away as it did when you looked up at it an hour ago? And regardless of the persistent voices of the monkey-mind urging you to turn around and go back – coz it’s all downhill! – you persevere anyway. And when you clamber onto the plateau and look at the splendour all around you, you are awash with an emotional satisfaction that no one can take from you. The grueling discipline and many hours that one needs to put into any dance style present the deserving dancer with the same sense of satisfaction. The satisfaction derived from working so hard at something so beautiful cannot be defined. Timeless contentment. This is also a good thing.
But perhaps the biggest drawcard is in the fact that there is a certain glamour attached to dancing. And this glamour increases proportionately with how earnestly the previous steps – hereto before mentioned – have been followed. The thrill and rush of applying make-up and dancing in the spotlight is a rare thing indeed. The ensuing adulation from an appreciative audience is fitting and just reward for the hours spent at the barre. Keeping one’s head the same size after some fame is achieved is of course fuel for another blog!
I was fortunate enough to land a character role in Cape Town City Ballet’s recent production of Don Quixote and after more than twenty years since last being on the Nico (nee Artscape stage) stage, I must say that I was surprisingly overwhelmed with emotion. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had this opportunity once again. Thank you.
Is this not also a good thing?