Relationships are far from perfect. Each person brings their own ideas, values, opinions and personal history into a relationship, and they don’t always match their partner’s.
Those differences don’t necessarily mean a relationship is bound for conflict. On the contrary, differences can provide an opportunity to understand, respect and tolerate opposing views, values and cultures.
They help one learn better ways of communicating so that the relationship is able to evolve.
How do you be your true authentic self in a world where it is increasingly easy to over identify with a persona. As a dancer, your competition or on-stage persona expresses something that resembles aspects of yourself in relation to the dance world.
There is growing awareness amongst ballroom dancers that striving for authenticity in practice and performance allows for their truest form of expression and presents a persona closely tied with their personality. Ok great, but how do we define ourselves in relation to the dance world? This will have an impact on the way we shape our lives and give meaning to our dancing.
The relational pause caused due the social distancing measures means that you are confronted with all aspects of your (dancing) selves, maybe without the external objects to which meaning is attached? Dancing has given you your sense of purpose, and along with your well-crafted persona, you frame your lives accordingly.
Humans are biologically designed to use all five senses in interactions with the world, creating memories which instil social learning and enforce a sense of belonging.
Dance classes create a context in which all senses are at play, creating positive neurochemical responses in the brain. This results in increased well-being and reduced stress, as well as better health choices and more meaningful relationships.
In this way, we believe the physical disconnect that is part of social distancing and quarantine has likely affected ballroom dancers even more profoundly than non dancers. This may have resulted in withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, restless sleeping patterns or agitation, which are normal psychological responses to an abnormal situation. After all, the usual dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin fix (social bonding and feel good hormones) from partnered dance practice is missing. Familiar emotional issues may also be emerging, so this is a valuable time to do some personal housekeeping. Perhaps the dance floor is the only space when you feel truly connected to another, or your dance persona has become your entire identity, and it’s difficult to know who you are without dancing being center of your life.
It is interesting that most people have not been missing the material aspects of life before Covid-19 as much as the opportunities to engage and connect with others.
Many ballroom dancers agree with this, for example when asked by DanceSport.com what they miss the most, responses included the following: “the feeling when you enter the dance studio, the rides to and back from a show, sharing emotions, and the social aspects of dance.” Life during the pandemic has shown us the value of healthy human interaction. It has become simpler and slower, and many of us have the opportunity to listen more closely to our thoughts and to what our bodies and hearts are saying.
The current pandemic’s impact is being felt on all levels; political, social, economic and psychological. UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, stated that this is the most challenging crisis we have faced since World War 2. While we do not know what the long term consequences will be within the world of ballroom dance, we have a sense that life won’t be exactly the same as before, and that we will have to collectively figure out what the “new normal” looks like in our respective disciplines. At Dance-Intelligence we are reflecting on what ballroom dancing may be like in the aftermath of the pandemic. During times of change there is often a splitting of values and ideals within a community; those who hold onto the status quo, and those who are curious and open to change. An integration of traditional and contemporary norms usually provide a balanced outcome, but this integration is not immediate, it is part of a transition and renewal process.