"Dance Like Nobody’s Watching."

March 4, 2023

"Dance Like Nobody’s Watching."

May 29, 2023

This used to be my motto. I’ve leaned on it when I’ve needed courage in all areas of life, including dance; a passion that I have limited to the impromptu dance parties in my kitchen, where I can be free to really let go and enjoy the movement.

I needed the motto because my fear of judgment, of not “getting it right”, of “not being perfect” or “them not liking me” or just “looking silly” would shut me down. I found I couldn’t move while all the critical voices in my head were talking, so I found a way to delete them from my reality. I made them not count. With no one there, I was free to move, to experiment, to risk, to express.

Passionately, authentically me.

With no one watching.

Alone.

Hmm, turns out that that part is not so fun. Dancing alone can be liberating…but eventually it’s just lonely.

An audition notice came through my emails - a chance to dance for the Canada Dance Festival, at midlife these invites are rare so I just had to do it. Immediately I turned to my BFF and asked her to join me. Rehearsals started a week later. I fantasized about the freedom of expression and movement.

But you know what happens when you dance with your BFF beside you?

She watches.

Everything.

Like the moment where the music goes from a great crescendo into a lyrical flutter and the whole cast simulates a forest of willows gently weeping…but I, completely lost in the passion and beat of the PREVIOUS moment, with great gusto and attitude leapt into a different step; arms waving, hips moving, chin up, tempo building…

A mistake of colossal proportion.

Everyone was watching. (cringe)

My BFF was watching. (sigh)

And all she did was smile and whisper “nice solo girl!”

That’s when it hit me. (Well truthfully it hit me after because in that moment I was scrambling to find my steps again and control an insane fit of giggles as I reflected on how crazy that scene must have looked!)

But it dawned on me - it is actually WAY more fun to Dance as if your BFF is Watching.

I went from lonely to shared in one second. Suddenly, the support of unconditional friendship made even my most exhausted, out-of-step moments something to be celebrated.

She watched as I made mistakes and offered me a smile,

she watched as I started to get flustered and gave me part of her snack,

she watched as I executed the move gracefully and gave her applause,

she watched as I layered on my flair and responded with her own,

she watched as I stretched, dared, soared and fumbled.

She watched and I loved it.

I was not alone.

I was in the energy that we created together.

To “Dance like nobody’s watching” is to bow to the weight of judgment and criticism that we and others have of ourselves. To Dance like your BFF is watching is to hold yourself with a tenderness and joy that allows for the full expression of who you are –foibles and fabulous rolled in one.

Here we are on performance day. I’m nervous about the crowds, the audience, the onlookers. Yup, everyone is watching. Film crews and now it is on the news. Yikes.

But I won’t pretend they are not there. They’ll witness my passion, my heart, my smile. They’ll also see the waggle under my arms, the booboos, the less than perfect turn out, the 28-year-old swagger in a 50-something body.

They have to come to watch and I will give them my show – the full shiny expression of me. And if they look beside me, they’ll see the glowing performance of my BFF, occasionally dancing her own solos.

Oh, my new motto?

***Just Dance.***

Come and reclaim your swagger, midlife is no excuse. Tania Carrière, leadership coach and founder of Advivum Journeys hosts international, transformative retreat experiences. She is an Adjunct Faculty member of the Modern Elder Academy. www.advivumjourneys.ca

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