Consider This: Who Are You Dancing For?

Consider This: Who Are You Dancing For?

When you go out on the floor, who are you dancing for? As you move to the music, you can tell a story with your dance. Who is part of that story?

Apr 13, 2018 by Kolby Paxton
The Girl With The Tree Tattoo

By The Girl with the Tree Tattoo

Every dancer’s journey is personal. 

We may have similar stops along the way, but each journey is individual. We have our own reasons and motivations for starting and continuing dance. 

Ballroom dancing is not an individual experience, though. 

There is a dance partner, there is an audience, and if you’re at a competition, that audience includes judges and spectators. So when you go out on the floor, who are you dancing for? As you move to the music, you can tell a story with your dance. Who is part of that story? Just you? Your partner? The audience?

I started out dancing for me. It was good therapy, it was fun, it made me happy, and it awoke a part of me that had been long suppressed. My first performance was on stage for a studio showcase. I did it to prove to myself that I could and to fulfill a personal dream.

As my dance training progressed, I learned a lot more about partnership. It takes two to tango, as they say! As I learned more advanced figures, it became more apparent that if my teacher and I aren’t connected to each other, he can’t feel where I am and I can’t feel where he wants me to go. 

The dance falls apart. 

I learned that I had to dance for more than just myself. I had to dance for my partner, too. That’s when two individual dancers become one couple on the dance floor. For a song, we go on a journey together, and the story we’re telling with our dance becomes that much clearer and more powerful.

If my dance partner and I were the only ones I needed to worry about, I probably wouldn’t have so much anxiety over one particular aspect of dance: the emotional expression. 

I’m introverted and do not naturally express my emotions outwardly in big ways. Inside, I could be having the time of my life dancing to a beautiful waltz, but outside, my face may look neutral, pensive, worried, or even bored. 

There are more individuals wanting to be a part of the dance story besides myself and my dance partner though. Spectators, judges, and other dancers all make up the audience that wants to come along on my dance journey—even if it’s just briefly. 

Whether I’m performing at a showcase or a competition, I’m dancing for more than myself and my dance partner. I’m also dancing for the audience who came to witness (and possibly judge) my performance. No one is going to want to watch a dancer who looks like she doesn’t want to be there! 

Letting what I’m feeling inside to show outside through my movement and facial expression is how I connect them with my dance story. As a competitor, it’s necessary to connect with my audience, including the judges, because I need to grab and hold their attention among all of the other dance couples on the floor.

So who do you dance for? 

Everyone has different reasons for dancing, and first and foremost, you dance for you. The experience becomes so much greater, though, when you bring others along on your journey—like your dance partner and your audience. 

That’s the magic of dance. It can connect complete strangers through the merging of music and movement, even if they’re just witnessing the dance. No matter where you are on your dance journey, your dance performance is a gift to yourself and others. 

So be generous.