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Getting out of a dancing rut

Our bodies like habit and repetition. It's like learning to drive a car. Once your body can move the clutch and the gear stick together and also navigate steering, braking and accelerating, then your thinking capacity can be used to navigate the traffic. That's why we learn to drive on a quiet road until our bodies have done these movements enough to be able to do them without thinking. Then once we're confident with that, we tackle the freeway. And the same with dancing, we practice our moves over and over until our bodies know what to do without thinking. Once you can do this, it's great because you don't need to 'think' about the steps any more and creativity can take over. If we needed to think about every single move we made all the time, we couldn't get much flow in our dancing and it wouldn't be enjoyable. We'd be like a learner driver flustered and stalling in the middle of the freeway – not really an enjoyable experience. So that's why getting to the stage of dancing where we don't need to think about our movements is great, but...

Once our bodies have learned to do a move and we've repeated the same thing for years and years our movements fall from our conscious awareness and we can fall into unhelpful habits that we are unaware of. Unhelpful because: perhaps the way you are moving is causing some pain in your body; or you are unable to advance in learning more subtle movements; or you are becoming bored with your own dancing or repertoire. So, it can really help to spend some time on revisiting some of the moves you have learned from the basics with the attitude of being a beginner again. Take a really conscious approach to your basic movements. Forget what you know and just see what you actually are doing. Once you can see the way you like to move, mix things up a bit and move in a way that you wouldn't normally. A few things you can try to get started:

Always doing things on the right? Do your movements on the left.

You don't even have to be dancing to do this. Any routine or repetitive action you do around the house can be great for waking up parts of your body and brain that have fallen into unconscious disuse. Use your opposite hand to wash the dishes or brush your teeth or scoop some ice-cream. It will feel weird at first, of course, but over time the dexterity in your other hand will get better and better and you'll be balancing out your body.

Is there one part of your body you favour more than another? Get that neglected part moving. Go through all parts of your body, moving and exploring how each part moves. Take a note of what movements you like and which ones feel difficult or strange. Once you find something that doesn't feel like a usual movement for you, explore and practice it some more. This way you're waking up your body to more dancing and movement possibilities and more ability to be creative.


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