Dancing to Your Own Beat
We want YOU and your uniqueness in class!
Ah Facebook memories! Do you enjoy getting those reminders “On this day, two/ five/ ten years ago…” ?! Especially with the lack of events this year, I usually love these little glimpses into the past ( except well, maybe seeing some of my previous questionable style choices 😜).
This week a Facebook memory from four years ago popped up reminding me of the very first article I wrote about my experience teaching Zumba. Reading the words reminded me of the joy, connection, and purpose that has energized me through countless hours of dance over the years. As this was before I started my weekly newsletter , I wanted to share it again with all of you here!
Dancing to the Beat
Over the past few years, I’ve had the rewarding and challenging experience of turning my hobby, dance, into my full-time job. I’m still getting used to saying, “I’m a Zumba instructor” when asked what I’m doing in Taiwan. More than anything, I’ve been struck by how people respond to this by sharing their own feelings about dance. There are enthusiastic reactions where I hear about someone’s love for getting down, her childhood dance classes, or his go-to moves. On the flipside, though, just as often and without skipping a beat, tons of people jump to tell me, “ I have two left feet!” or “I only dance after I’ve had one too many drinks at the bar,” almost like it’s a preemptive disclaimer in case I was about to try to drag them to one of my classes. Not my intention, I swear.
All of the responses I receive have given me certain overall impressions: tons of people secretly or not so secretly like and want to dance, tons of people think they can’t dance, and tons of people are scared to dance (except maybe alone in their apartments). Whether positive or negative, dancing seems to give people a real case of the feels.
Dancing in a group can be intimidating to people who fear they can’t find that ever-elusive beat, or maybe it seems like their ears were just about to catch it, but the rest of the body is refusing to cooperate. It’s that self-doubt that creeps in when you think you alone are missing something painfully obvious, like being in a room where everyone is laughing at a joke in a language you can’t understand (something I have plenty of experience with). Wait, am I sure the joke isn’t on me?
To me, the beauty of a Zumba class is that it gives people a safe, non-judgmental space to enjoy music. It’s my job as an instructor to show them, “Hey, here is the beat… and here…. and here again. You might want to move to it like this!” Without words, I use visual cues to make suggestions about how you can appreciate the music using your body. People watch the instructor, try to challenge their minds and bodies to follow along, and are so busy breaking a crazy sweat that they rarely have time to notice or worry about what anyone else in the class is doing. There are going to be times when you feel like you really have a move down and times when you can’t remember which way is left or right. That’s what keeps it from getting boring. That’s what keeps people coming back class after class.
Without a doubt, there is something very satisfying about dancing to the beat of the music in unison with others. At times we clap and shout together at the exact same second, and in that instant it feels like we created something louder, bigger, and more vibrant than we could ever have created on our own. Still, one of my favorite moments as an instructor is seeing when students feel free enough to dance to their own beats, when people forget whatever “rules” they think exist, and stop paying attention to everyone else, myself included.
Zumba is about community and connecting with others, but it’s also about connecting to yourself. It is not about perfection. It is not about being the same as everyone else. It’s about getting so caught up in the fun that you can really let go, forget your self-doubt, and add your unfiltered and unique flavor to the dance. For myself and many other people in the Zumba family, it’s a lesson that can be taken out of the dance studio and into everyday life: to have equal appreciation for both moments of being in harmony with others, and those moments where you just have to take that solo like only you can do.
Keep bringing all of unique and awesome YOU to class! We’re so glad to have you as a part of our community to move ourselves, one another, and the world forward!