Your Move Dance Class
Kong Fit Contributor: Erin
I emailed Meagan from my desk at 10 AM to see if there were any spots in the dance class later that evening with Your Move, founded by dancers Brittany Parks and Hannah Douglass. I confessed that I had been too intimidated to initially sign up, but was regretting it– especially after seeing KFC promote the event the day before. I was also replaying a conversation with my boyfriend, wherein I had outlined the reasons I wasn’t going: there would likely be more than a few professional dancers, and I didn’t have anyone to go with for the all-necessary moral support. He didn’t seem to share in my insistence that these were good reasons.
I emailed Meagan when I decided that I didn’t want to miss out on an unlikely opportunity: that I, with formal dance experience limited to a couple of prepubescent stints in a local Jazz class– and informal dance experience limited to the goofy, tequila-fueled shenanigans of college girlfriends– could learn from experts. (And let us not forget that old VHS tape I’ve long hoped will never resurface, in which I perform all of the choreography in the class musical in exact opposite.)
It didn’t make me feel good to make a decision out of fear. Encouraged by Meagan’s enthusiastic, all-caps reply that “no one is going to know what the fuck they’re doing,” I went.
Throughout the class, in which we were taught choreography to Lizzo’s exquisite “Tempo,” what was most evident was the joy that Brittany and Hannah took in sharing their craft with others. It was also clear that they were aware of the insecurity that we might be feeling, and made a conscious effort to dispel it. Before we even began, they assured us not to worry, because “no one is looking at you– we’re all looking at ourselves.”
A few times, they would take the class through a new part of the choreography, only to exclaim, a few times over, “or you can do it like this!” and re-perform the same sequence in slightly different, increasingly exaggerated and comical ways. Some people got things right away, and others didn’t, but piece by piece we all shimmied along, assembling the dance. It felt good every time I kept up with the count, remembered the moves. It also felt good to laugh at myself when I didn’t, to allow myself to not know what the fuck I was doing.
In the end, it didn’t matter that I had gone alone because I could share in a knowing laugh with others when we messed up. Like freshman year of college, it’s often easiest to connect with others when you’re all doing something out of your comfort zone. It also didn’t matter that other people got things faster, or looked better doing it, because they offered not judgement but encouragement.
What I imagined as an anxiety-ridden, stressful experience, was completely the opposite: my mind couldn’t wander elsewhere as I focused on the eight-counts. There’s a kind of release of energy that comes with physical, bodily learning: of taking up space, that I felt even after leaving the studio– singing by myself in the car, taking the stairs to my apartment two at a time.
But what I was most struck by was that it was the first time that I could remember thoroughly enjoying doing something that I was decidedly not good at. In a culture that increasingly values a particular brand of productivity, subscribing to the notion that every hobby should evolve into a monetized “side-hustle,” doing things for the sake of enjoyment alone (and especially doing things that you have no apparent skill for) seems an important form of resistant self-care. I am also happy to now be only one degree of separation from Beyoncé.
Erin O’Leary // @erinfoleary