Dancing Can Free Your Soul

Rev. Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

When I ask people why they don’t dance more, they get remorseful, maybe a little defensive. They don’t have time, they don’t have the opportunity, they no longer feel very agile. One person sadly suggested to me that dancing is something you do when you’re young and then you stop. That wasn’t the case with my parents, who kept dancing well into their 80s. I’m sure it added to their longevity.

This perception of dancing as unserious, as something frivolous people do, like eating a bowl of whipped cream, seems inaccurate, especially once you start deliberately dancing more. I’m not talking about complicated choreography that requires difficult moves or executing steps; I mean simply moving spontaneously to music.

If you start looking for opportunities to dance, you can find them. While cooking dinner or cleaning the house. Perhaps a spontaneous living-room disco with your partner. It’s sort of miraculous: Each small break offers a little dose of endorphins. A little moment of expression of returning to yourself in an otherwise chaotic life.

Yes, we’re busy. We’re tired. Most of our movements in a day end up being about utility. We move to get from here to there, to accomplish tasks, or as part of an exercise regimen. Dancing is a way of reclaiming movement, of deciding how you want to use your energy and your body rather than just getting things done.

I enjoy watching Dancing with the Stars as well as Nino and Andra, who are professional Latin dancers, on YouTube. I also like to watch professional Jitterbug dancers Nils and Bianca. These couples are often smiling and laughing. My observation is that when we dance, we are in the moment free from worry and just having fun.

There are opportunities for dancing if you open yourself to them. You could join one of the many dance classes offered at SaddleBrooke Ranch. I love going to the pool and moving gracefully in the water doing dance steps. It is very freeing for me.

If you need more convincing before you bust a move, you could watch the CBC documentary “Why We Dance,” a beautiful exploration of cultural and evolutionary rationales for dancing.

Nathalie Bibeau, who grew up taking dance classes, recreates several experiments that bring scientific ideas to life. In one sweet segment, infants discover the world through repetition, practice, imitation, synchronizing movement with caregivers, and play, all of it movement-based. “Even before birth,” points out UK social and evolutionary psychologist Bronwyn Tarr, who supervises some of the experiments, “developing fetuses in the womb respond to rhythm with patterns of movement.”

“If there’s a central message to Why We Dance, it’s that re-connecting with dance—which is a complex expression of social behavior in every human culture—may be a way forward for the human species in these uncertain times.” As Bibeau states, “We are all dancers.”

My challenge to you: Let loose … shake that booty.

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained nondenominational, representing all faiths, and her focus is inclusivity. Email her at [email protected].