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What it really takes to take a #dancebreak

#dancebreak habits Jan 13, 2022

Several years ago I met a woman who said one of her spiritual practices was to put on a song and dance however she felt, every day. As someone who is trained as a professional dancer, I thought to myself, I'm a dancer, and I don't even dance every day. My creativity mentor, Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist's Way says, if you write, you're a writer; if you paint, you're a painter. I started wondering - if I was a dancer who didn't dance, was I actually a dancer?

So I started a new habit for myself called #dancebreak. This was my opportunity to know myself as a dancer by dancing regularly. The guidelines were simple - choose a favourite song and move however I feel. It's one thing to do this from time to time when you feel like doing it. It's another thing to intentionally start a new practice and integrate it into your life. So how did I do it?

1. Choose the same time every day.

I chose the same time every day to do the practice. 11 am. This gave me enough time to do some work in the morning (to catch US time for my job) and also meant that I caught people who were on the East Coast and the West Coast of the US, where I had a lot of connections on social media. And I did it at 11 am no matter what. Even during a photoshoot (see photographer, make-up artist, and the dog who joined me in the image above!)

2. Have a clear purpose.

In other words, know why you're doing it. I had a clear purpose for myself. I was going to be a dancer who danced. That meant I had to dance and dance regularly.

3. Design a structure that supports you.

Without having a structure and left to my own devices, I just would not have done #dancebreak nor done it so consistently. I created a structure of accountability for myself where people were expecting me to show up and, I'd given my own word to myself to show up. This made the difference on the days when I didn't just 'feel' like doing it. I remembered my purpose, my why, and got myself trued up to that vs. "I'm too tired..." And so I chose to live stream on social media (starting on Twitter). 

4. Your body is how you'll get it done.

Creating a new habit meant that I had to move my body. That first time I did a live #dancbreak, I had to move my body to set up the phone, set up the music, and with a shaking hand, press 'go live' and begin. I couldn't have done this without moving my body. My body was the access, the pathway to starting.

5. Start with what you have.

Starting something is often half the challenge. How many times have I dreamed up all the obstacles that are in my way for starting something? 'I can dance when I have the space or my own studio, or when I have mirrors or the right shoes, the right speaker or the right music.' None of these obstacles are real in the sense that they aren't the things that are stopping you from starting. Even if it looks that way. You can dance at home, in a park, after dark, in bare feet, to your own singing. Starting with what you have, however imperfectly is 100% times better than not starting at all.

Plus, the joy of dancing, the exhilaration we feel, the expression of the self, of ourselves as whole human beings is way wilder than the experience of not dancing. Moving our bodies to music increases our quality of life.

When was the last time you took a #dancebreak? To which song? Let me know, I'd love to hear.



PS. Join me in a #dancebreak on Insta @danicalani

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