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February 16, 2015

The Reasons Why We Dance

THE REASONS WHY WE DANCE

As a choreographer and writer (though I confess I am far more comfortable to claim the former than the latter), I get asked to share my opinion about a myriad of dance related topics from the practical:
“How can dance help you get in shape?”
“What is the best way to practice my footwork?”
“What are the three most important partnering techniques I should learn?”

To the existential:
“Is my dancing a projection of my self-image?”
“How can dancing improve relationships?”
“Can dancing help you overcome fear?”

All good questions with good answers to be certain, but today I want to answer, or at least try to answer, the question I get asked most often. The question I think matters most…

“WHY DO PEOPLE DANCE?”

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That’s it. Simply, why? What is it about moving our bodies to a song we love that is so joyfully Pavlovian? Why do we watch videos, obsess over our reflection in the kitchen window, and yes, take lessons to perfect something that could easily be labeled as trivial? Why do we put ourselves through the physical fatigue and the occasional social awkwardness just to call ourselves dancers? Why do we love it so?

There are the obvious answers. We dance for physical fitness. We dance for mental clarity. We dance for emotional stability, and other such pluses.

However, all these benefits could be attained by others means, though I confess I have yet to find a better alternative than a great cha cha to lift both one’s heart-rate and spirits. Still, we do not need to dance to acquire a sound mind and body. So, there must be more reasons why we do so. There must be something glorious about dancing that is more than just intangible; it must be almost imperceptible. We cannot seem to explain it, yet we all know it so well that we do not hesitate to tap our feet to a Gershwin melody or pulse with the percussion of a samba rhythm. So why do we dance?

Perhaps dance is the way we express ourselves when words are insufficient. The joy we feel over new found love, the determination we have in the face of great sorrow or adversity, the passionate fire of our youth and the peacefulness of our softer and more graceful years – maybe they are never expressed more fully than through a waltz, or a tango, or a jive. We all want to be understood, and if we could truly speak the words that describe our feelings, how deep and powerful they would surely be. But alas, those words never seem to come to us just right.

Nothing can beat cha cha to lift both one’s heart-rate and spirits. Still, we do not need to dance to acquire a sound mind and body. So, there must be more reasons why we do so. There must be something glorious about dancing that is more than just intangible; it must be almost imperceptible. We cannot seem to explain it, yet we all know it so well that we do not hesitate to tap our feet to a Gershwin melody or pulse with the percussion of a samba rhythm. So why do we dance?

Perhaps dance is the way we express ourselves when words are insufficient. The joy we feel over new found love, the determination we have in the face of great sorrow or adversity, the passionate fire of our youth and the peacefulness of our softer and more graceful years – maybe they are never expressed more fully than through a waltz, or a tango, or a jive. We all want to be understood, and if we could truly speak the words that describe our feelings, how deep and powerful they would surely be. But alas, those words never seem to come to us just right.

MAYBE DANCE IS SIMPLY A TRANSLATOR FOR THE HUMAN HEART.

Perhaps dance is the medium through which we show the world who we truly are and who we can be. All of us, if we are honest, believe deep down that we are not ordinary. We know ourselves to be wonderfully unique, with many layers of personality and talent woven in such a way that no one on earth could possibly have our same make-up. We know it. We just do not always know how to prove it.

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MAYBE DANCE GIVES US THE OPPORTUNITY.

And perhaps dance is how we choose to remember, how we hold on to the past. It is how we relive the fun-filled days of our youth or the time we looked in their eyes and knew they were the one. It is our tribute to the heroes of yesterday who jitterbugged like carefree boys and girls, when tomorrow they would march as men and women to defend freedom’s cause. It is the chance to be a princess again, waiting for an out-stretched hand and the call to a romance that is graceful, true, and not as forgotten as the cynics say.  When we dance, we can remember them all a little better, feel the butterflies once again, and if only for a moment, return to the purest part of our lives when time was of no matter…for we were dancing.

Why do we dance? Every answer will be different, and that is as it should be. Perhaps the better question is, “Why would we not?”

David Thomas Moore is the Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer for Dance With Me USA. He is the also co-writer/choreographer for the stage show, Sway: A Dance Trilogy.

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The best part is… literally anyone can do it. With the right teachers, it’s fun and easy to do. Literally the hardest part is taking that first step… to pick up the phone, to schedule a lesson, to walk inside a dance studio. Once you take those first steps, the steps on the ballroom are as easy as a breath of fresh air.

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS WHY YOU DANCE!

Share this article with a friend who you think could benefit from learning to dance! 

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Leave a Reply

  • Mindy hopkins Feb 16, 2015

    The reason why I love to dance is I’m in the middle of the biggest fight of my life. I have stage 4 bone cancer. Dancing is my escape from everything. It inspires me to keep fighting. I hurt slot, cry, but I can still move. My emotions show, I dance cause it keeps the fire in my life.

  • Ina Ries Feb 16, 2015

    I dance to just about any type of music after waking up at 5 am, knowing I have a stressful 12 – 14 hour shift ahead of me, working as a RN. I tune to my favorite radio station in my bathroom and dance away while getting ready. This is what gives me energy, happiness, positiveness, good thoughts and a bit of an “adrenalin infusion”.
    My whole life, I had to have my music and dance. I lived without a TV, smartphone, computer for many years very, very happily!!!

  • Joy Rogers Feb 16, 2015

    The show DWTS inspired me to start dancing. I had just come through a bad break up and learning how to dance helped me re-gain confidence in myself. I am a 2nd grade teacher so it is also a great outlet and stress reliever. Within the first 3 months, dancing helped me lose 15 pounds!! Having a musical background also helps and I have learned not to just count the beats but to feel them. It has definitely helped my keyboard playing as u play in a worship band at my church. I have been ballroom dancing for 4 years now. I’ve done 3 showcases and 1 competition. My 2nd competition will be on 2/28/15, and I can’t wait!! I have so enjoyed the journey and encourage anyone else to try it. You will never regret it!! – Joy Rogers, NC

  • Donna Pinkley Feb 16, 2015

    I dance because it makes me feel beautiful. I am a plus size tomboy and feel most beautiful when waltzing. I feel most feminine when doing the rhumba.

  • Michele C. Feb 16, 2015

    Dancing makes me happy!

  • Debbie S. Feb 16, 2015

    I dance for the reasons mentioned but also because dancing gives me joy, confidence, strength, and a way to express the beauty of life.

  • Lynnea Feb 16, 2015

    well.. I dance to save myself. I took lessons for about 7 years and then stopped for 3. One day I knew that I needed to dance again.. to find myself again. Being over 50 is hard on a woman… I wanted to get my self confidence back. So I showed up one day for my first private lesson in a long long time and when asked I said I just need to dance again. During that first year.. I laughed, I cried, I was afraid and I messed up a lot… but one day.. one day I started to feel like a dancer. I felt more confident, I was certainly more fit (I lost 50 lbs) and I almost felt beautiful and sexy again. The longer I dance the more I will tell people dancing saved my life. It was a lifeline to feeling alive again.

  • Phyllis Prebble Feb 16, 2015

    i dance because I must! Dancing is my life preserver! To dance is to alive and happy, I am most happy when I am dancing. I love dancing in all its forms, but my heart has belonged to Ballroom since I was eleven years old watching the Arthur Murray Dance Party on Sunday afternoons in Chicago. I got a chance to go to the Studio for a live show and fell in love with the beautiful Waltzes and Foxtrots. I’ve wanted to dance ever since and was only able to begin taking lessons sixty (60) years later. I feel thirty years younger and I dance every chance I get!

  • Diane Feb 17, 2015

    I love to dance to keep myself in shape, for social life and for romance. Dance is a language, we tell in our movements, it is sensual, sexy and mental therapy! It keeps you young and keeps your aging bones moving so you do not need hip and knee replacements! Most of all, the energy on the dance floor is happy and addictive!

  • Roza Feb 18, 2015

    when I dance I feel like flying, free, nothing else exist in the world

  • Danielle Feb 20, 2015

    If you had asked me this question 2 weeks ago I’d have said I dance to challenge myself. But after 3 lessons my outlook on dancining is so much more! Yes I am challenging myself and learning something new, but I am also learning so much about myself in the process. I’m doing things I never thought I could do, and really coming out of my shell mentally and socially. I was shocked at the amount of sheer joy I’ve found in dance after 3 lessons. It’s absolutely amazing!

  • Pam Feb 26, 2015

    I love to dance because it helps me to get great exercise relieve stress be more confident and just have fun fun fun

  • Rosemarie Feb 26, 2015

    I forced myself to take dance lessons. Looking back, I had no rhythm, couldn’t always hear the beat, was way too self-conscious. I persevered and the moves and rhythms are in my blood now. I’m still very shy about performing in front of people. I will continue this journey for the good of mind, health and emotions. The greatest stress relief is dance.

  • Christine Feb 26, 2015

    It seems that all my favorite people are pondering the same question these days. While this isn’t ballroom, it is my other favorite form of dance – https://vimeo.com/119494981

  • Jaclyn Weber Feb 27, 2015

    I never knew I had the ability to dance. I was also an awkward child growing up so it was never something I gave much thought to. As I got older and grew more interested in the arts, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to capture a piece of the talent of the people that make me so very happy with their passion and talent for their art in dance. It is these people that alleviated the unfortunate anxiety I suffer every day. My curiosity eventually led me to acting on the journey of trying to become closer to this beautiful art. I had no idea of my ability or what more it could give to me. I joined Dance with me Soho in June 2014 and can safely I dance to become a better me. This beautiful hobby has given me the gift of serenity and 45 minutes of peace per lesson. I’m so grateful for the teachers and people I’ve met along the way.

  • evaPieva Feb 27, 2015

    I dance because after year’s of hating myself and thinking that I cant do anything good I remembered that one time I was happy it was when I was dancing and it was an amazing feeling because I loved what I did and I felt free and happy and I knew that I am good….so I started to dance again and you know what it still have the same effect ?

  • Mary Lou Quinlan Feb 27, 2015

    I loved David Moore’s essay on “Why Do We Dance?” His words made me ask myself the same thing. I know why I danced as a child and a teen. Out of pure unrestrained, unedited joy. I danced to stretch my spirit, to discover who I was and yes, to entertain. I have never feared an audience. If anything, a sea of strangers opens my heart easier than being face to face with a couple of strangers. Dancing for an audience, I felt completely in my skin and free to be my best self whether soaring in a musical or dancing the simplest solo.
    But life got in the way, I guess. A career. Obligations. Schedules. Years went by and other than the occasional wedding or reunion, my dancer stayed in the corner. Waiting. For decades. And though I found other ways to express myself, I don’t think I ever felt that true union of body, mind, spirit and that intangible emotional release of dancing. Until now.
    I signed onto Dance with Me Soho with a mission. I had been invited into a charity version of Dancing with the Stars and I said yes before even considering the idea that my old ballet, tap and Philly fast dancing didn’t mean I could ballroom dance. But the chance to dance again? I had to take the risk. I knew it in my soul.
    With just four months to go from zero to my dream of a mirror ball, I have devoted myself to learning like never before. I am in love with the studio, my wonderful partner Kosta, teachers Andrei and Taylor but really every one of the instructors, reception team and coaches who have come into my life. I step into the studio and it is magic.
    On one level, I dance because of the children I am raising money for in “Dancing for our Future Stars.” That goal takes me past every little ache or tired day. But I admit that on the deepest personal level, I am dancing for myself. I am feeling in my skin again, letting go of the corporate woman, the years gone by and embracing that open-hearted, over-the-top elation of becoming who I was meant to be. With dance, my body feels strong, my mind is clear (even if constantly trying to align every part!) and I cannot stop smiling because I am breathing in joy again. And dancing out love. That’s why I dance. And why I won’t stop again. Thanks for the privilege of being part of Dance with Me Soho.

  • Carolyn Mar 4, 2015

    I dance for love. It’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I never had a choice. CarolynCarolyn

  • Loretta malin Mar 25, 2015

    Most of the reasons have already been said . My good friend & neighbor encouraged me to start ballroom dance class’s with her after a year since I had lost my son & husband. It was a severe trial . But I found that during my lesson, I had to totally focus on my lesson . So after a time I realized my mind was on the dance & I found I was not grieving during that time. So I continued. I really never wanted to tell my new friends that I have RA & have bilateral hip & knee replacements. I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me . Yes, sometimes I have to come home & get out the ice pack or heating pad but it is truly worth it . My Rhumatologist is for it 100 percent & even wrote out a script. She even came to my showcase when I did the tango with my instructor. I feel good when I dance & I am pain free. I also feel healthy & beautiful, especially when dressed for a dance recital. My dance instructor is very supportive. I am a s senior but feel very young when I dance. I especially love the waltz. so briefly I would say ballroom dance is good for the mind & body. I think it would be great for all of us that have expressed our opinion to be able to come together at least one time & have the opportunity to wear One of the beautiful gowns & dance with one of the pro’s . It would be a dream come true & I think it would encourage others to have the courage to take the first step.I think ballroom dancing would grow bigger them ever . Maybe we could all meet somewhere on common ground. For me, life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, It’s about dancing in the rain. Sincerely, Loretta. ?

  • Uru Jun 16, 2015

    I am 12 years old. I have danced with several pro dancers. There is no way i can explain how much i love dance. It puts a happy feeling inside me. When my friends tell me its crap, i scream and swear at them but I don’t know why. After reading this it made me realise, dance is my passion

  • Nemonia fleck Aug 24, 2016

    Even on my crappiest days dance is always a good way to finish it off. Dance relieves my stress and hormonal rage;) when I’m out on the street or in school I would never do what I do in that studio. It’s crazy how when everyone is dancing I don’t feel the least bit insecure or worried. Before I started dancing I was a shy little girl who’d never take any risks just in case I mad a mistake. I’ve learnt now that every mistake you make is you getting better and that if you never made mistake you could never proceed to get better. I love taking classes because it not only helps me get better at dance(of course), but it also help with just the little simple things like having conversations with one other.

  • Norman Prather Mar 25, 2017

    Fascinating, I don’t dance but my wife wishes I did. I’ve never understood why people describe dance as expressing emotion. Yet each of you describes dance in no other way. I don’t understand but it’s fascinating.

  • Osa Aug 16, 2017

    I’ve been dancing since I was 8 years old. I’m very passionate about it. I love the joy it brings to me. When I dance it’s like I’m free, no strings attached and when I’m on stage I feel empowered, determined and dedicated to what I do as a dancer. It helps me improve my skills and helps me develop new skill and techniques in dance. There are many different types of dances, some are, Modern, Hip-Hop, Ballet and many others like Jazz, Tap, etc. These are some of the reasons why I dance.

  • Que Anh Aug 31, 2017

    i love dance, because when i dance i feel myself be flying, i love life than, i can forget everything else and i just focus on it. it makes me relaxing and makes me happy. i like to take care of my body and i danced, it be maked my body healthy. i like see someone when they’re dance, i was pull on it, and i hope i can dance beautyfully like them. so i want learn dance, i try, i hope, i wish i will a dancer.

  • María Albarracín Sep 26, 2017

    I dance because when I’m dancing I feel myself, free and alive. Because there’s no other better moment when I listen the music and i feel it throwing my veins making me move like the world is not looking at me.

  • shanelle smith Oct 6, 2017

    best thing i read in a long time

  • Karyn Jan 23, 2018

    I have been dancing all my life & love it. Since my husband/dancing partner died in 1997, I haven’t found a good dancing partner. I want to join Dance With Me so that I can dance again. The only problem is that I don’t have a way to get there. Maybe someday I will 😃.

  • Beyza Cömert Mar 13, 2018

    Dancing is my life! Because when I feel sad about something I am dancing or when I feel happy I am dancing to express myself. Even if when I just walk on the street, I step like I am dancing, or with the help of the music I am dancing in my mind. I do my own choreo in my mind as if I am at the stage.

  • Cheryl Apr 4, 2018

    It’s fun…especially when you have a group of friends to dance with.

  • Mary louise ventura g Apr 24, 2018

    Enriching encouraging article ,, keep it going! Loved it!

  • Neetu Vaswani May 18, 2018

    Private dance lessons?

  • Suresh Chandra Gupta Jun 15, 2018

    I dance simply because I feel

  • hodaifa chadli Jun 20, 2018

    the dance is only way that help me in life becaus i was have nathing no schoul no friends famille they hitt what im do but in dance i foaund my self and i can be in my life

  • Dino Violante Jun 26, 2018

    I do like it when you said that dancing is a way to express the self when there are no words to describe or are not enough to show how they are feeling. Now I understand the reason why my friend has taken interest in dancing. He is a very emotional person. His feelings are always so deep that most of the time, there are no words to describe his mood. If this will help him, then I will be sure to support him.

  • Lisa B Jul 10, 2018

    I have been dancing my entire life. I hear music – I dance. I learned the cha cha when I was 6, the lindy at 7, I was tapping at 9, twisting at 11, dirty dancing as a teenager, doing the hustle
    In the 1970’s, dirty dancing again in the 80’. I taught both my sons how to dance. I met my 2nd husband dancing and we still dance together. There is.no better exercise, there no better way to lift your spirits.

    • bigdrop Jul 11, 2018

      That’s awesome! Never stop dancing! It really is an amazing activity!

  • Lisa Nazzaro Jul 17, 2018

    Dancing makes my insides smile.

  • Aleshire Mueller Jul 27, 2018

    It was really nice when you explained that dancing is the medium through which the person expresses who they really are and what they can do. I guess I can agree that dancing proves how different we are considering how we have our own preferred dancing type. I prefer ballroom dance, by the way, because it seems more appealing and formal for me. That is the reason I am considering learning that instead of the modern dance.

  • JOSE MANUEL DANIEL AVILA Y LARRAÑAGA DE HERRERA DE TAPIA Aug 18, 2018

    “IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO BE ANYTHING BUT HAPPY WHEN YOU ARE DANCING”. – JOSE MANUEL DANIEL AVILA Y LARRAÑAGA DE HERRERA DE TAPIA.

  • Frank Aug 19, 2018

    Dance is a passion for me, especially when you dance with a group of friends.

  • Debjani Sengupta Aug 26, 2018

    I love dancing. It makes me feel good. I have loved dancing since I was very young. I am an Indian classical dancer and a dance teacher teaching contemporary dance to young children. It teaches them to be physically fit, overcomes their fear of performance, develops creative thinking and helps them to learn to work with others.

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