I am a dancer. Kind of. I mean I dance in my free time, and when nobody is watching. But, up until recently I wouldn’t have described myself as a dancer. I probably would have winced if I was called one and tried to deflect. But that slowly began to change recently. It all started with a class with Professor Mark Broomfield. We were told to wear comfortable clothes for the class, so I was already on edge on what the class would entail. When I first entered the classroom, I was a bit annoyed at the prospect of having to dance in public and the fact that I was not sure what type of dance we’d be doing only made me more concerned. By the time we finished the class however I felt comfortable in my own space and in my own movements and I felt like I had a lot to consider about myself.
This change really got me to thinking, what about dancing makes people uncomfortable? I mean, your body is yours, your motion is yours, and who better to find comfort in then yourself. But, when we started discussing dancing and comfort in class, it seemed like that general consensus was that the time when people felt most comfortable dancing is when inebriated. From the many nods that went around the room when Katie raised this point it became obvious that it wasn’t an issue of personal preference but one of societal influence and mental process. This interested me and made me want to understand this dilemma better.
I thought a lot about my life and how I was raised and how that may have affected my dancing experiences now. I was raised in a very religious household where dancing was seen as an “unholy” action. Even though I loved it, I was never allowed to participate in school dances, parties, dance groups or anything of the like because my parents believed that this was not something that a Christian should participate in. This only led to me finding ways to dance, whether it be behind closed doors or forging my mothers signature to attend a dance program. Keeping this in mind, I was finally able to understand, to a certain extent, why I feel a sense of uncomfort when dancing in front of others. I’ve felt a sense of shame from my family about it my whole life and that’s had an effect on how I view something as innocent as dance today. But, I feel like as I’ve started college I’ve slowly let go of the limitations that were put on me by my family. Which is why I am now able to say in all honesty that I really love dancing. I am a dancer. And I hope that one day, I’ll feel the comfort that comes with owning my body and its choices.