Dancing has language all its own; it is a language that is understood universally and it can simultaneously build relationships and community.
Bena Silber, coordinator of Hudson Valley Community Dances said,”I think when people are on the dance floor all differences disappear; there are no age differences, no race.” Bena said that one of the goals of bringing dance to Poughkeepsie was to build community. She said, “People are wonderful when they are happy.” Neil Curri, another organizer of the Hudson Valley Dances said, you meet people that are involved in other social or business networks, it reinforces connection with people on another level. “Community dances create community,” he said. Neil said he has met lots of friends through the dances. He said they want to reach out to the community and attract more young people; even though all ages attend the dances.
Hudson Valley Community Dances offers various types of dances for the community. Among those dance styles are Swing, Contra, English Country, and West Coast Swing, Zydeco, and Ballroom dance. The dances are held at different locations and various towns within the Hudson Valley. There is usually a lesson before the dance begins and you don’t need to come with a partner to learn or attend the dance. Sarah, a dancer who has only attended one dance said that it was appealing because, “you can come without a partner and not feel out of place.” She said,”it’s not like a club, sometimes you can coordinate that with friends, but sometimes that’s a pain.”
Zel Dolinsky, coordinator for the West Hartford, CT dances for 15 years said, “It’s a agreat way to get exercise, and it’s a lot of fun to hear live music.” He said, it’s a nice community of people, people are friendly, it’s both dancing and a sense of community. The Hartford dances also have general instructors for the dances before the events begin. He said the events usually have between 200 to 250 people. Even though they offer other dances, Zel said that Swing dance was the most popular of the dances at the center. It’s something about the live music, he said, that makes people want to dance.
When dancers were asked why they liked the community dances their answers were varied;however they all agreed the dancing was fun! Ron Fields, who has danced for years said, the dancing is energetic, it’s social, and it’s great to hold a woman in your arms for three minutes. He said,”it’s noncompetitive, great exercise and everyone always has a smile on their face.” Josie, a swing dancer since 2004 said it’s a lot of fun, energetic. “I love learning a new style of dancing. It burns lots of calories.” She said she prefers it to going to a club, where people are just standing around.
Nelson, a dancer who has been dancing for four years said that when he began dancing he didn’t know a cha cha from a swing or a waltz. He said he had no knowledge of dance at all. (it is really hard to believe that when watching him on the dance floor.) Nelson said dancing serves numerous purposes. He said it is fantastic exercise, it’s a skill and it’s a passion. He said, “I believe it’s a passion for most people here.” He said when he first began swing dancing he bought cds to learn steps, but then he began coming to live dances and said he was blown away by the beauty of the dances.
Many dancers feel that the dancing has the potential build connections to others through an activity that you both love. Bena, Hudson Valley Dance coordinator said, “I love dancing to music with another person. It’s a nonverbal communication, a very good way to connect with people. To be a good leader and follower, you need to totally focus on your partner.”
Bena said, dancing is something that everybody can learn; even people who have a hard time at the beginning. They can become good enough dancers to enjoy their partners and have a good time. “I’ve seen it happen again and again,” she said. Bena said that she feels that people who can’t or won’t dance miss a large part of life. She said that she has been dancing and teaching dancing for years and said that she hopes that she can do it until she is 110.
Writer’s Note: Why dance is so important to life.
1. Dance is universal-Because it is a language spoken all over the world, dance has the potential to bring cultures together. A famous dancer once said, “all politicians ought to get on the dance floor together.”
2. Dance is Social- It is one thing to dance alone, but to have a partner in dance is the ultimate form of communication with another human being. Dance also brings people together in groups.
3. Dance is Symbolic- Bena, the dance coordinator said that a person who doesn’t dance misses a large part of life: I will go a step further and say, a person without a dance is like someone who can not fully live. Even though everyone doesn’t have the same level of passion for dancing; I say ,find a person who has a passion for dancing and they most likely will have a passion for life. Every culture on Earth has dances unique to that culture. There is a reason for that. God put the desire in humans to express themselves this way. To live without it is to be without a large part of human life.