Monday, March 21, 2011

What Moves You?

I've always been a mover. For many years, dance was a huge part of my life. I attended a performing arts school growing up and majored in dance in college. But while I was a natural performer, the draw of dance wasn't about having everyone's eyes on me onstage. What I liked was being able to lose myself in the movement. Pushing my body to do things I'd never done before gave me a thrill and I loved to take on the different characters and moods that being a dancer provided. I've always been a fairly shy person, but dancing gave me the opportunity to literally put all my feelings into motion without having to say a word.

There's a moment when you're learning a piece of choreography where suddenly everything clicks and all the gestures and phrases start to flow together. You don't even have to think about what the steps are anymore because the movements seem to rush out of your body. One moment you're sweating away in class trying to connect your mind with what your teacher is instructing you to do and the next minute something locks into place and all that matters is the music, your breath and the rhythm of your body.

It's a difficult feeling to describe and one that I seem to always be chasing now that dance doesn't play such a large role in my everyday life. What I have found though is that one thing that can measure up is the feeling I get while running. While the sensation of running is different, being a repetitive motion rather than a sequence of complex ones, there's still that same moment where a feeling of calm settles over your mind and you feel at one with all the mechanics of your body working together to propel you through space. The simple act of filling your lungs with air and breathing in and out can feel like a revelation. Not to say that I achieve this state of mind on every run (I didn't in every dance class either), but the possibility is always there. When I lace up my shoes in the morning I always wonder if this will be the day I reach that high again and get to glide across the earth like a gazelle. Some days it will even surprise me. I may be several miles into a so-so run when a switch flips and suddenly I'm floating like a leaf on the wind. It's moments like these where all that time spent chasing becomes worth it.

Movement is a wonder, whatever form it comes in. What's your favorite?

*Photo by gravity_grave.

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