Body Language

I am, as you can imagine, a So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) addict. I think it’s one of the best dance shows on television right now because it not only rewards great technical dancers, but takes into account a dancer’s artistry. It’s not simply about putting on a great “look at me ma!” show, it’s about finding the art within each piece, each dancer.  And somehow, this show seems to have found a largely dance-minded audience, because by and large, they seem to get it right week after week of eliminations. 

All that is not truly the point to this post, but an important introduction I suppose.  On last week’s show, following one of Sasha’s pieces, Nigel said something that so perfectly summarized everything I wish I could explain to people. He said:

For dancers…sometimes the only way they can communicate is through their dance.

Ah ha. Now, if you know me, you know I danced growing up and through part of college. I would never in a million years say that I had anywhere near the talent level it takes to make it big in that business; but I will tell you, dance was, and is, so much more than just movement to me.  It was a way for me to reach those thoughts and feelings that I otherwise didn’t know how to express. 

There are moments when you are dancing when everything around you fades away and you are just totally in sync with what you are feeling, with what the piece is saying, with what the piece is exposing within your own heart and soul.  It’s emotional, it’s spiritual, it’s freeing—there’s nothing like it.

Even now, when I am at the theater, or at home watching a dance performance on tv, or even a particularly poignant SYTYCD piece, my throat tightens up and I find myself choking back tears—I feel like my emotions are all of a sudden being pulled out, and danced by somebody else for me. And I think dance has the ability to do this for everyone—not just those of us who grew up dancing. There is something so raw about the way an artist can communicate without ever using words.

I am the first to admit that I am not a gifted orator. I struggle to sufficiently verbally communicate what is going on in my head and my heart. Words don’t come easily for me when I’m trying to express myself. It’s something I think will always be a challenge for me.

Luckily words seem to come easier in written form for whatever reason.  But even still, there are some things that seem too scary, too personal, too raw to put down on paper. It’s too permanent, too clear a window into myself. But dance, it unlocks something within me.  I am able to shed all those fears and walls and just totally connect to what’s deep inside. 

When I’m dancing, the words don’t matter anymore, and I feel free.

Photos by Finlay, Cam Vilay and Augusto Cesar Costa.

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