Dance of Happiness
People sometimes wonder why I dance, why I teach and why I a so passionate about it a keep pushing myself to get better. I dance because I am a dancer, I teach because I am a teacher, dancing and teaching makes me feel like me, dance makes me happy, and it allows me to feel like I can express who I am, and it’s been both a source of healing and of self discovery.
However dance was not always a big part of my life. Although my childhood dream was to be a dancer, I abandoned that dream very early on, at around the age of 5, as the people around me were not supportive of my dream, not knowing any better at that age, I let go of my dream. After that I found happiness in making art, gardening and spending time in nature, so much so that I even pursued studies in fine arts and have a masters degree in sculpture. But there was always a small part of me that wondered, what if I tried to dance… However growing up I became so shy about dancing that I wouldn’t be able to let go and move to music, this went on until I finally decided to face both my fear about expressing myself through dance but also my fear of not being able to do it. I started dancing at the age of 21.
I took classes for 6 months before I worked up the courage to go to my first social even outside class. During those first 6 months I learned the basics of salsa dancing but most importantly I learned to be comfortable in my body, comfortable expressing myself, I gained confidence, improved my shyness. 13 years later seeing me dance, it might be hard to imagine me not dancing, but I am very grateful for the life experiences that I have had, as learning to dance as an adult helped me become a good teacher and I will always be patient with students, as I still remember the beginnings of my journey through dance.
For a while I was quite content just dancing, and enjoying it but 2 major events happened at time when needed to make changes in my life, changes that ended up making dance a bigger and bigger part of my life and changes that brought more happiness to my life. They might not have been fun experiences at the time, but I will be forever grateful that they happened, as I would’t be who I am today if they hadn’t happened. Around the age of 25, I became sick and was in constant pain, part of the diagnosis was that I would end up in a wheelchair by the age of 40. I could of let myself get defeated, but I choose to ignore the doctors, have faith and I managed to turn my life around. It took facing possible death and disability to open my eyes and to think about my happiness versus what everyone around me thought I should do. This brought a long period of soul searching in my life. I started asking questions that I had never asked myself before, like who am I, what is happiness, who do I want to be… That period brought to me god, spirituality, a journey to loving myself and being happy and peaceful, a journey that I am still on today. But it also made me realize that dance is what I wanted to pursue. And funny enough after realizing that, even the fact that I may not be able to walk in 15 years didn’t matter anymore, and that is the time when I decided to start teaching dance.
Then 4 years ago I had a major car accident, which I miraculously survived, not only survived, but walked away from with only bruised bones and skin and whiplash. Injuries that slowly have been healing since then to the surprise of the medical world. Again I took this as a sign. I had not been happy in the job I was in at this time. I wanted to make dance more important in my life and I was dreaming of opening a dance studio, but was scared to quit my day job. The accident made me realize that it’s better to try and fail than not to try at all. So not long after the accident I quit my job to open Happy Soul Dance Studios. I did not have any money in my bank account when I quit, not even enough to pay next month’s rent, never mind leasing a space and renovating it. But I had faith and somehow I was able to make it happen. And today I am living my dream. I sometimes work very hard, but everything always works out, I believe it’s because I have developed a strong faith and that I truly feel like I get to be myself.
When someone asks me if I think they can learn to dance, I smile and say, of course, because I truly believe that they can, when they say that they don’t have the time, money, ability… I smile and tell them it’s OK, that dance will always be there when they choose to come to it and that I hope they do something that brings them happiness. Because I truly understand them on so many levels. But I can say, don’t wait for the prefect opportunity, the situation will never be perfect, you will always be able to find reasons why not to do it, you will never learn everything right away, just like anything else to truly know something you need to experience it, to live it and that happens through practicing and doing it. Does it really matter how long it takes or how far you get? The importance it the practice, the doing of something that brings you happiness and that you enjoy. Everyone should find time for that in their lives. That’s just my two cents. And it doesn’t mean that you need to quit your job like I did, everyone has a different story, there is no two of us who are exactly the same. For me it was the right decision and I felt guided to live my life this way. Also, you don’t need to know the end destination to take your first steps. 10 years ago I didn’t even dream of owning a dance studio and teaching dance and performing for a living. I didn’t have the strength, confidence, belief or even the ability to dream such a big dream… But through living life, and taking one small step at a time towards more happiness I gained strength, confidence, faith and realized that my life is mine and I can dream as big as I can imagine and can make those dreams come true as I take steps towards them.
Dance is but a way to god, to me at least. I dance for him, for me, for the joy of self expression, of connection, of feeling. For being one with music and with others. to let go for a moment of everything thing the world tells you is important and to remember what is truly important. I dance for love, for happiness, for peace. I dance to express my true self, to feel, to connect with others, to inspire, to live.