Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Dance Class

I am writing about dance class only because I am trying to think of ways in which Single men and women can meet up in low pressure social engagements unrelated to church.

I am certain I have written about dance class before, but mostly to complain about it. Your poor auntie put in something like 10 years of ballet classes, a few hundred dollars worth of Arthur Murray ballroom dance, was shoved backwards around a dance floor for the duration of her short and miserable first marriage, was driven to salsa classes through sheer divorced lady loneliness, attempted belly-dancing as an antidote to the drear of graduate heterodoxy and did a stint of swing dance at the University of Toronto.

The only dancing I have ever completely enjoyed, and did not make me feel like an oppressed elephantine dwarf, has been Irish and Scottish country dancing. Oh, and the performance of a Bollywood dance at my Canadian theology school's International Night. I asked an Indian classmate to do something, anything, to break up the monotony of endless Irish and Scottish deedle-deedle, and she said she would only if I did too. Teaching me to do a Bollywood dance was a challenge, but she did it. Sensation among Jesuit classmates.

With the exception of belly-dance, which I might have liked better with a different teacher, I see that these despised dances are all partner dances. Do I just loathe being pushed around by men, or do I just loathe close proximity to male strangers? All those sweaty hands. Urgh!

Listen, I can't write this post. I sat down to suggest evening dance classes are great fun and great opportunities to meet people, and all I can think about is how much I personally hate dance classes. But I know many people who absolutely thrive at dance classes.

Could readers who love their dance classes please detail why in the combox? Thanks.

Update po polsku: A young Polish gentleman of traditional leanings sent this in. Apparently it is about a dance class retreat geared to helping Polish women reclaim their femininity. Holy cow. Alert Jeff. Apparently even Polish femininity needs reclaiming. I would totally go, except my husband wouldn't let me.


Another update: I went through this announcement with my Polish teacher. When we got to the part about girls being wounded in shaping their femininity, I asked her if this were also a problem in Poland. She said she thought this was a problem everywhere.

REKOLEKCJE z t a ń c e m
DLA DZIEWCZĄT I KOBIET


KRÓL PRAGNIE TWEGO PIĘKNA…


Niezależnie od powołania, do jakiego wezwie Cię Bóg każda z dróg jest formą realizacji tego pierwszego i najbardziej naturalnego powołania, jakie otrzymałaś od Boga w momencie Twego poczęcia – powołania do tego, by być kobietą.

Tak naprawdę, nie będziesz dobrą żoną, matką swoich dzieci lub – jako osoba konsekrowana – nie będziesz w stanie w pełni dawać życia w duchowym macierzyństwie, jeśli nie otworzysz się na odkrywanie i przeżywanie głębi swej kobiecości.

Dziś – jak chyba nigdy wcześniej - młode dziewczyny są głęboko ranione w ich kształtującej się dopiero kobiecości, przez co nie mogą odnaleźć swej tożsamości, wartości i godności, jakimi Bóg je wyposażył. Uciekają od swego ciała, od siebie samej… A przecież to nie przypadek, że jesteś kobietą! Z woli Wszechmocnego nią jesteś i On przede wszystkim pragnie, byś w pełni żyła tym darem – On pragnie Twego piękna…

W czasie tegorocznych rekolekcji będziemy zachęcać Cię do wypłynięcia z Bogiem na głębię swego życia, by tam – w Nim i z Nim - odkrywać sens swojej kobiecości i słuchać Jego głosu.

****

Prowadzący:
Alicja Libura-Gil: nauczyciel tańca współczesnego
O. Konrad Małys OSB: liturgista

****

Termin : 16 - 21 lipca 2012

OPACTWO BENEDYKTYNEK W STANIĄTKACH

Zgłoszenia prosimy kierować na adres:
staniatki@benedyktynki.eu
staniatki@benedyktynki.org
lub telefonicznie: 12 281 80 58;
507 677 825
do dnia 12 lipca 2012 r.
Koszt rekolekcji: dobrowolna ofiara za codzienne utrzymanie i dla prowadzących warsztaty.

15 comments:

sciencegirl said...

Hm, better watch out, ladies of Poland! In the USA, dance classes designed for women to reclaim their femininity are sometimes pole-dance lessons taught by strippers.

I love dance itself, but I've found it a poor way to meet people. Contra dance is a big deal around here, and there are many wonderful people who do it, but I don't like the sweatiness + touching. What I do greatly love is my Zumba class. I've had a lot more success meeting people (and by people I mean "women") at book clubs run by my library.

Seraphic said...

Pole-dancing is not a worry here, since the retreat is being run by Benedictine nuns. And nobody be cynical about "nuns these days" because these are Polish Benedictine nuns.

WHAT is Zumba?

Sarah said...

Weird coincidence. I JUST read an email from a friend inviting me and several other people to practice dancing in preparation for a family member's wedding. But, I'll know all the people there anyway.

I once went to a Civil War ball re-enactment, where we learned several line dances from that era (The Virginia Reel is the only one I remember) and the waltz.

The friend I danced with and I were TERRIBLE at the waltz. He wouldn't lead, and I probably wouldn't let him if he tried.

I also took some traditional Mexican dance classes when I was much younger, because my grandma (who is Mexican) paid for them. I didn't like them very much. probably because all the other students spoke Spanish, and I didn't. That along with being fair skinned and red-headed, there seemed to be a bit of a cultural divide.

Besides two weeks of ballet when I was 2, those are my only real dancing experiences (besides the random weddings and proms I've attended, where I did the Electric Slide, the YMCA and slow dancing that is more like 'swaying in time' than actual dancing.)

JustAnotherCatholicGirl said...

ZUMBA is a pretty big craze in the US right now. It’s dance aerobics set to Salsa music basically. I’ve only had the opportunity to make one class and it was a BLAST! Guaranteed to give Latin flair to any girl lol.

May I recommend adult tap dancing? I took adult tap for 3 years and loved it. It’s geared towards beginners who are there to dance for fun, get some exercise, and make some rhythm with their feet. Best part is, it isn’t partner dancing. :-)

I have always loved swing dancing as well. Unfortunately my area doesn’t have any places to swing dance for people in the ages of 20-30. If you live in a big city though, they normally have a Swing Club that’ll get together once a month to dance. Do some googling, grab a girlfriend and go. You can even go alone if you want, it’s good etiquette for a guy to make sure he dances with every lady in the room. It’s called social dancing for a reason, it’s not just for the “couples”.

Urszula said...

Zumba's a huge craze in Poland as well. I only disagree with the statement that it gives Latin flair to any girl - it certainly didn't work with me ;) I've taken ballroom dancing classes (they were offered for free at one Warsaw parish) and those were a lot of fun, although the guys were a bit shy and reluctant to ask the girls to dance, which was a bit annoying.

I can definitely recommend swing dancing classes. My weekly 'rock and roll' classes in France led by a middle-aged guy were the most fun ever - great, energetic music, and the dance is less about seduction and more about energy (for me, at least). Plus, the instructor had each guy (even the coupled ones) practice each move with all the other girls in the room. So you didn't have to come with a guy, and it was great practice.

leonine said...

I've taken a few Argentinian Tango lessons (!), but swing is the way to go. In my experience, the people are far, far friendlier, and the dance itself is far, far easier to pick up. When I lived in a city with a good swing scene, I used to go dancing by myself almost every Saturday night. There was a huge ballroom with live music, and they'd do an hour lesson, then three or four hours of open dancing (full band!) for about $12 admission. There were people there of all ages and skill levels, and I had a wonderful time. In several years of doing this, I can only think of a handful of awkward moments; the culture was friendly to beginners, and everyone asked everyone else to dance. I miss it.

leonine said...

In fact, for those near Washington DC, here you go: http://www.glenechopark.org/dancing.htm/

Urszula said...

Thanks for the link, leonine! I actually just moved to the DC area and it will be lovely to check out the scene here.

I'm not sure how I would feel about a Polish dance retreat, though. I remember being extremely creeped out by a young guy at the afore-mentioned parish dancing classes when he explained to me, enraptured, that his "dancing had only gotten better when he gave it all up to God in adoration." I felt it was way too much personal information from a guy I had never met before. Maybe because I still step on guys' toes, no matter how much time I spend in prayer.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

When I was in high school, every student in their first hear had to take two weeks of dance classes in gym. (I ended up coming back the other two years to help as a sort of student supervisor). Mostly it was waltz, two-step, and jive.

Here's the thing I like about ballroom type dances: in a sense it taught young boys and girls at my school how to act like ladies and gentlemen.

In those classes it was always the guys' responsibility to find a partner for himself. As far as I understand ballroom dancing, it's always up to the guy to initiate steps. You have to respect your partner, or else you're not going to be able to do anything with them.

It made an effort (perhaps mostly unsuccessful) towards breaking down that adolescent handicap that makes you see the opposite sex as scary or intimidating.

If I were in charge, I'd make all the students take those dance classes all year. :D Maybe then the lessons might have sunk in.

leonine said...

Urszula, lucky you! Enjoy! (I would wait until it's a bit cooler to go, though. It's absolutely stifling in the summer...)

AGirlWhoLovesToDance said...

I may be commenting a few days too late… Regarding your observation that “these despised dances are all partner dances:” have you ever tried Greek, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonia, Bulgarian folk dancing? (or the dabke? It’s a folk dance from the Middle East. I’ve only danced it a couple times, though, and I don’t know very much about it.) I think they’re super fun to dance! :) No partner necessary because everyone holds hands as one group. Yes, there may be sweaty hands :) , but another nice thing about this style of dancing is if you decide halfway through a dance that you don’t want to dance next someone, you can just leave the dance and sit down, which I think is impolite to do in a couple’s dance (not sure though, maybe I’m too nice and just think it’s an impolite thing to do). And the steps aren’t too hard to learn, and people are friendly and willing to teach you the step if you want to learn and if you join the circle. What I love about this style of dancing is that you dance with everyone, not just one person, because everyone is holding hands and moving together as one group.

In the US, there are tons of Greek fests and Serb fests during the summer (and I’m sure Croatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian fests, too, but I mostly go the Greek and Serbian ones near me, which there are enough of in my city during the summer), and it shouldn’t be too hard to find one if you want to check out this folk dancing. However, if you want a class, an adult dance class will probably be hard to find. I love dancing (also took 10 years of ballet class), and I’ve also tried ballroom/swing dancing classes, but never quite enjoyed it as much as these types of folk dances. I think I’ve always just felt too much pressure having to dance with just one person for five minutes and thinking that it’s impolite to leave after one min if I find it’s not enjoyable dancing with my partner. But maybe that’s because I was always in beginner classes, and I may not have been a good dance partner either :) .

I’ve always though American line dancing looked similar to this type of folk dancing because everyone dances in a group and it’s all about the footwork. That’s next on my list of dances to try. Irish and Scottish country dancing look fun, too.

A note for the non-Greeks, Serbians, Croatians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, etc. – a lot of these summer festivals are popular in the American community, too, so there are sometimes 2 tents/sections at the fest – one with American music/songs in English and the other with folk music and songs from that country (I think more likely to be found in the larger US cities).

Sarah said...

As a single Catholic girl fresh out of undergrad with a degree in philosophy, I started out with a few ballroom classes to chase after a bit of a dream involving sailing around a dance floor. Well, almost four years later I'm completely obsessed with it, have made a great many friends from different culture and walks of life, traveled to competitions with new friends, and have been in that strange animal of a relationship we call a "dance partnership" for a year and a half. I don't quite know what to think, but dance has pretty much transformed my life in that it has given me such increased confidence, helped me overcome my shyness, and allowed me to experience so much joy in creating something beautiful with another person. But at the same time, I think, as a dance friend told me recently from her own experience, "dance has become my boyfriend." I have been so wrapped up in my dancing, training, and the partnership as a part of that (we're close friends), that I think it would be quite difficult for another man to cut in...not that I wouldn't want him to, but he might see it as well nigh impossible. And yet, I can't give it up. Right now I am trying to figure out how to balance all of this out so that I can still pursue the dancing, but not to the detriment of having a future life beyond it. All that is to say, dancing is truly wonderful, but do be careful and know what you are getting into. It can consume your life and cause a lot of heartache if you aren't careful. But then again, I still don't regret it, especially when I'm flying around the floor in a Viennese waltz, or gliding smoothly through a musically led nightclub 2-step. I guess I've picked my poison.

Sarah said...

As a single Catholic girl fresh out of undergrad with a degree in philosophy, I started out with a few ballroom classes to chase after a bit of a dream involving sailing around a dance floor. Well, almost four years later I'm completely obsessed with it, have made a great many friends from different culture and walks of life, traveled to competitions with new friends, and have been in that strange animal of a relationship we call a "dance partnership" for a year and a half. I don't quite know what to think, but dance has pretty much transformed my life in that it has given me such increased confidence, helped me overcome my shyness, and allowed me to experience so much joy in creating something beautiful with another person. But at the same time, I think, as a dance friend told me recently from her own experience, "dance has become my boyfriend." I have been so wrapped up in my dancing, training, and the partnership as a part of that (we're close friends), that I think it would be quite difficult for another man to cut in...not that I wouldn't want him to, but he might see it as well nigh impossible. And yet, I can't give it up. Right now I am trying to figure out how to balance all of this out so that I can still pursue the dancing, but not to the detriment of having a future life beyond it. All that is to say, dancing is truly wonderful, but do be careful and know what you are getting into. It can consume your life and cause a lot of heartache if you aren't careful. But then again, I still don't regret it, especially when I'm flying around the floor in a Viennese waltz, or gliding smoothly through a musically led nightclub 2-step. I guess I've picked my poison.

Maria said...

I can't believe I only just stumbled on this post, though I've been reading this blog faithfully for months! Anyway, my 2 cents though at this point no one will read it:
I took up swing dancing about a month ago and loveloveLOVE it. It's a wonderful workout and oodles of fun - I don't even notice I'm getting out of breath. You do have to have a certain tolerance for sweaty hands. I myself am completely drenched after a fast number or two. But I was surprised to find I don't mind in the least.
I'm a shy person, but the swing crowd is kind, friendly, and immensely supportive of beginners. I could not sit down all evening if I wanted to, as the men are very proactive about asking the ladies. It's a surprisingly small community, given what a big city I'm in - I see the same faces often, and I'm happy to do so.
I didn't get into this hobby to meet men, though I've met many my age who seem to find me reasonably attractive. What this activity has done for me though, is to help me feel better about men-in-general - I've met plenty who are perfect gentlemen (on the dance floor at the very least!). There is great masculine appeal in a considerate, thoughtful leader and it makes me feel very feminine.
It's an invigorating change from some of the men I know.

Christine said...

I found this post a little late in the game, but I'm glad I read all the comments.

I purchased some Arthur Murray-type dance lessons on groupon (or some such website), but I've been procrastinating scheduling my first lesson because I'm nervous about being out-of-shape, and about dancing with strangers. hmm