I was at a family wedding recently, and since I dance for a living, I usually prefer to stand on the sidelines at private events and watch. This is much to the annoyance of the hosts, who would rather I put on a full number to entertain their guests and send the memorability value of their party sky high.
But it is really tough for me to perform without the glare of the camera lens, harsh studio lights, 1000s of fans screaming my name… to just the naked eyes of people standing close to me? Nah, that gives me dance floor fright!
Anyway, back to the point. Let’s talk about the wedding I was at. I have this aunt, my favourite one. She’s big. She’s loud. She’s irrepressible. But she doesn’t let public opinion daunt her. She came to this wedding, dressed in an over-embellished gold lame gown, figure-hugging from top to toe, that embraced every curve and bulge of her 120 kilo frame. Only held in it’s casing by all the tinsel that adorns her X’mas tree in December. There she sat, regally and proudly, lighting up the faces of our other family members with the reflection from her sequins. And the moment the music came on – up she jumped, the first one on the dance floor. She danced with abandon. Uninhibitedly flailing, throwing her arms about. Wiggling that pendulous bottom. Sticking out a chubby foot here, and pointing a plump finger there.
She was not put off by the shocked expressions and jibes and sniggers that were doing the rounds through the room. She was having a whale of a time.
And you know what? Her energy was infectious. Before you knew it, all the pimply boys standing awkwardly in corners and the shy girls cuddled on the couches lining the room… had leapt up and were gyrating on opposite sides of the dance floor, Aunty Florence occupying the mid-space like a beacon… and then, slowly but surely she had drawn them in… the gap closed and the boys and girls were dancing together, no longer shy, no longer inhibited. Aunty Florence had brought them together! 3 cheers for Aunty Florence!
The point I am making is, that so many people these days, think you have to be good dancer, and look a certain way, dress in a certain style before you get up and boogey. But unless you want to be a professional dancer, it is not really important what your fitness levels are, or how good your technique is! All that matters is that you have a blast!
Dancing can be one of the most liberating things on earth.
Everyone can do it – it doesn’t matter if you are the proverbial black or white, young or old, overweight or skinny, outgoing or shy, academic or sporty. Have two legs you can stand on? Can dance!
Dancing has a host of benefits, which I can’t extol enough. You only have to google “health benefits of dance” to get hundreds of thousands of hits (16,40,000 resuts – I tried it). All promoting that you get up and get moving. It keeps you young, vibrant and alive. Research has shown that dancing for even a short while a day, sharpens your brain and improves your memory. Physically, it keeps you agile, flexible and active. Socially, it fosters bonding. Emotionally – it takes you out of your shell (if like a tortoise you have one – some people were born without!). It lifts your spirits, keeps you happy, takes you to higher heights than before! And in this age of digital lives and technology that is welded to our hands – I think its’ more and more important for us to break out of our sedentary lives and do something in the real, tangible world, side by side with other people!
I know all these things because I have experienced them first hand. I used to be a gawky kid. I studied biochemistry in college and was as nerdy as you could get. Went into hotel management. But I would dance, just to make myself happy.
I realised I wanted to do something that I was completely invested in. So I began to teach dance, and that is what propelled me to the top. I owe my all, to dance.
(Terence Lewis is a leading dancer, choreographer and reality TV show judge. Views expressed are personal. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)