It was snowing hard that evening as we were driving out from the garage. The snowflakes were swirling in their stormy dance in the light of the lampposts. It was a magnificent evening! Both my husband and I were reluctant to go and we were thinking to stop and go back home. As we were already in the car and driving, we decided to keep going and give this evening a try…
An old, spacious event hall in the nook of Victoria Park in Kitchener was our destination. That evening it was hosting an Irish dance night. We went in, checking it out, looking at the crowd and wondering how long we would last before we would go out into the storm again and drive back home. The instructor came out and invited everybody on the dance floor. It was rather crowded that evening and we were instructed to form 4 long lines. My husband and I turned out to be standing in one of the lines facing each other.
There were people of different ages, of different backgrounds and personalities. I didn’t know anybody there and standing next to the strangers to my left and to my right, I thought to myself ‘Looks like we made the right decision - the evening promises to be unpredictable and amazing!’ A few last instructions from the evening host and the playful tunes of Irish music filled the room and made our grins full of awkwardness even bigger.
If you wanted to enjoy that evening you had to have the courage to keep dancing even when you didn’t know the steps and care less about all the mistakes you were making. Haha! It was utterly amazing!
One dance after the other and the strange faces became more and more familiar. Not being sure which way to turn next, which way to go next, which move to make next – the awkwardness of that made us feel open, real, authentic and friendly. The music and the dance were bringing us from a line into a circle, breaking us in groups and uniting into a big moving circle again.
What I enjoyed most of all throughout the evening was being together with other people - dancing, sharing the smiles and the happiness generated by the movement. The positive effect of this togetherness was unparalleled!
As Bessel van der Kolk explains in his book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’:
‘Collective movement and music create a larger context for our lives, a meaning beyond our individual fate. Religious rituals universally involve rhythmic movements, from davening at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to the sung liturgy and gestures of the Catholic Mass to moving meditation in Buddhist ceremonies and the rhythmic prayer rituals performed five times a day by devout Muslims./… Along with language, dancing, marching, and singing are uniquely human ways to install a sense of hope and courage.’
Participating in various dance events and being an instructor of Femme! dance myself, I can say with certainty that a group of people dancing together to the rhythmical beat is something more than just for fun, just hanging out. Yes, on the surface level it does feel fun, relaxing and cool. On a deeper level we feel profound connection with others in which we experience our common humanity. In addition to all the fun, jam and relaxation, this experience of our common humanity gives us power and strength to cope with the most powerful and challenging feelings. It generates the inner capacity to face the trials of life with resilience, strong will and inner power.
There’s a lot of togetherness in Femme! dance class.
We are coming in and out of a circle in a continual movement, feeling the sense of belonging every moment of the class.
What I love even more about this dance experience is that you get to share what is painful, sad, stressful or frustrating for you without telling others the details of your situation. Femme! dance is a perfect haven for feeling and expressing yourself fully without letting others into the details of what you are going through. You can definitely share your experience through words either before or after the class – there’s time and space created for that. And if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. That’s the beauty and attraction of this dance experience. You get to bring all your ‘mess’ – feel it, express it, leave it on the dance floor – and nobody gets to know what is it exactly about.
Femme! dance is an invitation to get high on the freedom of movement, unleashed emotional expression, being with yourself while at the same time being together with other people. It’s a dance that you are reluctant to do but the moment you start – you cannot stop.
Because it feels GOOD!
Express your emotions through movement when you cannot find words to describe how you feel.