In the USA, we have this powerful myth of the first Thanksgiving. The first pilgrims came to the shores of this country, escaping religious differences in England. The ingenious peoples kindly took pity on them and invited them to a feast. The pilgrims were so grateful for this kindness that they commemorated the feast as a national holiday.
Today, laden tables will be set in every home that can afford it (even the virtual genocide of native folk hasn’t dimmed the glory of Thanksgiving). Each person at the table may even be pushed to to name something for which they are thankful. Which they will do, however sulkily. On other days, though, most folks focus on what’s wrong (of which there is always plenty).
What if we highlight what’s right? There has recently been a lot of research that highlights the power of good–of thankfulness and gratitude in daily life. Folks who prioritize the positive feel happier and more at peace with their world. The impact of terrible events recedes, and love finds a foothold in their hearts.
We can bring this practice into our dance with marvelous effect. Kenny Werner, the author of Effortless Mastery, said, you can be the most miraculous player in the universe, never hit a wrong note–but still not be free. He said, the only way you can be free is to love your playing *even when you play badly.* When you hit wrong notes, make mistakes, and generally suck.
Freedom means loving yourself–and your art–no matter what. How radical is that? We are so conditioned to punish ourselves, dismiss compliments, and obsess over our flaws. Where is our thanksgiving?Where is our gratitude for the joy of creating art with movement, this marvelous dance that offers us joy, solace, and a pleasurable, self-loving relationship with our bodies?
What if we let this year be different? What if we choose to reflect upon ourselves with kindness and love? Our dance will not suffer. It will not grow less. It will grow more, as our dance, too, becomes more loving and filled with joy. As we fill ourselves, we fill those around us. The whole world wins.
What if you write a love letter to the dance? To your teachers. And to yourself, as a dancer. Tell yourself all you have accomplished, how beautiful you are, and how much joy you have brought into the world through dance. Write one today–and every week for a month. No negatives–just the good. Replace negative thoughts with love and affirmative warmth.
Next time you dance, what if you just enjoy yourself? Enjoy the pleasure of your moving body. Only do what feels good, what feels easy, what your beautiful body enjoys. Allow yourself this pleasure, this happiness.
It’s a dance of joy.
Let’s enjoy it.