*** Dance like nobody’s watching ***
This used to be my motto.
I’ve leaned on it when I’ve needed courage and freedom in all areas of my life, including dance; a passion that I have relegated to the impromptu dance parties in my kitchen, where I can be free to really let go and enjoy the movement.
I needed the motto because in Dance and in so many other things, my fear of judgement, of not “getting it right”, of “not being perfect” or “them not liking me” or just “looking silly” would shut me down. No matter what it was I was striving for, I found I couldn’t move while all the critical voices in my head were talking, so I found a way to exclude them from my reality. I made them not count. Suddenly as I pretended that no one was there in judgement, I was free to move, to experiment, to risk, to express- to be passionately, authentically me.
With no one watching.
Hmm, that part was not so fun. Dancing alone can be liberating…but eventually it’s just lonely.
A couple of months ago an audition notice got forwarded to me - a chance to dance for the Canada Dance Festival. My heart told me I just had to do it. Without much forethought, I immediately turned to my BFF and asked her to join me. Rehearsals started a week later.
But you know what happens when you dance with your BFF beside you?
Like the moment where the music goes from a great crescendo into a soft lyrical flutter and the whole cast gently simulates a forest of weeping willows…except I had completely gotten lost in the passion and beat of the PREVIOUS moment and, with great gusto and attitude literally leapt into a different step; arms waving, hips moving, chin up, tempo building…
A mistake of colossal proportion.
Everyone was watching. (cringe)
My BFF was watching. (sigh)
And all she did was smile and whisper “nice solo girl!”
And that’s when it hit me. (Well truthfully it hit me after the rehearsal because in that moment I was really just scrambling to find my steps again and control the insane fit of giggles that kept overtaking me as I reflected on the juxtaposition of the movements and how crazy that scene must have looked!)
But it dawned on me - it is actually WAY more fun to Dance as if your BFF is Watching.
I went from lonely to shared in one second. And suddenly, the attachment of community, of support, of unconditional friendship and love made even my most exhausted, out-of-step moments something to be celebrated.
She watched as I made mistakes and offered me a smile, she watched as I started to get flustered and gave me part of her snack, she watched as I executed the move gracefully and gave her applause, she watched as I layered on my flair and responded with her own, she watched as I stretched, dared, soared and fumbled.
And I loved it.
I was not alone.
I was in the energy that we created together.
To Dance like nobody’s watching is to bow to the weight of judgment and criticism that others, and ultimately we have of ourselves. To Dance like your BFF is watching is to hold yourself with a tenderness and joy that allows for the full expression of who you are –foibles and fabulous rolled in one.
Here we are at performance day. I’m nervous about the crowds, the audience, the onlookers. Yup, everyone is watching. Film crews and now it is on the news. Crap.
But I won’t pretend they are not there. They’ll witness my passion, my heart, my smile. They’ll also see the waggle under my arms, the booboos, the less than perfect turn out, the 28 year old swagger in a 48 year old body.
They have to come watch and I will give them my show – the full shiny expression of me. And if they look beside me, they’ll see the glowing performance of my BFF, occasionally making her own solos.
My new motto is far more simple;