Releasing Shame through Dance

After expertly breaking down the next sequence of moves in hip hop class, our dance teacher asked, “Any questions?” Before I could consider the appropriateness of the words, I blurted out, “I was wondering how old you are?”

I could attribute my occasional impulsivity to having been diagnosed with ADHD, but in fact, we all say and do obscure things from time to time. It’s human. What I was not prepared for was the intense wave of heat that quickly traveled up my body, landing in my chest and head, when the class understandably began laughing heartily. I don’t fault them for their reaction. It was an odd time for such an off-the-wall question, not to mention a bit of a boundary pusher. None of that really even matters.

What matters is where it lead me—SHAME. Immediate, intense, powerful shame. I was suddenly so shame-filled that I lost track of the dance moves and instead noticed the whole slew of harsh criticisms suddenly slamming around in my head:shame

“I’m the old lady in this class. No one else is afraid their knees will hurt from doing the floor work.”

“I’m crappy at this. My moves have no flavor.”

“I can barely keep the steps straight and everyone else has it all down. I look like an idiot.”

The belief is simple, “I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH.”

Dance has consistently offered itself to me as an invitation to greet–head on–my greatest insecurities. Through it’s raw body-centered expression it nudges out all my old judgements, perceived flaws, lingering fears.  Because my body loves to move, because I found a studio whose teachers profoundly honor their students, because dancing enhances my vitality and creativity, I accept the invitation over and over again.

Having the tough stuff triggered, while sometimes intensely painful, is not a “bad” thing. It’s an opportunity to do the work of life, the work I am wholly committed to from within and as a transmitter of healing in my personal and professional life. Each of us has an internal landscape strewn with golden nuggets of beauty and truth as well as those of uncertainty and criticism.

One day, I just might gracefully dance my way through it all.

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