I walk timidly across the hardwood floor toward the middle of a dimly lit room. I have no idea what to expect from what I am about to embark upon. There are several people around me. Some are friends; others are strangers.
The muscles in my back become tense as a drum beat begins to fill the room. I stretch upward, reaching for the ceiling. My right foot takes a step; the left follows. Before I know it I am caught in an internal struggle: Do I let my mind take charge of the situation, analyzing every action? Or do I release control and give in to the beat, acting on what I feel?
These were the emotions going through mind about two hours ago as I began my first African Dance class. Although I felt completely awkward the whole time I was there, it was one of the coolest things I have done in awhile.
I had heard about the African Dance class that is offered at the gym at my school from a friend I worked with this summer. She attended the class every week and would come to work the next day raving about how amazing it was. I was intrigued, but pretty convinced that my days of going to dance class were numbered.
That was until a couple of days ago. As part of a requirement for a creative arts class I'm taking this semester, I'm supposed to learn something in the realm of fine arts. I was at a loss for what to do until my friend from school brought up the idea of going to one of the dance classes offered through the health and wellness center. I thought it was a good idea, but not sure it would actually happen because of my fear of entering into another dance class ever again. But today I must have been feeling adventurous because when she told me that there was a class tonight, I actually really wanted to go. I called my roommate to invite her, and the three of us headed over to the dance studio.
The whole atmosphere of the class was so cool. The teacher was a great dancer, and very supportive of our attempts at replicating her movements. The lights were dimmed, perhaps for dramatic effect, but it definitely set the right mood. And then there were the drummers. That's right. There was live music in our dance class. Yes, it was a little strange feeling like three drummer guys were watching us dance across the floor, but very appropriate for the situation. It made it feel very authentic.
Then there was the dancing. The hardest part for me was trying to let go of the worry that I looked like a fool as I did the movements. I knew that if I could just let go and really feel the music it would come naturally. I knew this because everything about the class felt so organic, like the music and the movements were a part of my genetic history. Every move seemed to radiate from my core. There was something inside of me that felt like throwing my whole being into it, but I wasn't quite ready to let go of the control yet.
Maybe next time. I definitely want to take this class again because I know that this is what dance is supposed to feel like: exciting, freeing, and emotional. African Dance, as I know it, is very good for my soul.
"Don't move until you feel it."