Not Waiting To Exhale

I was doing a little digging around in our archives this week, looking for some posts to share during the Why Dance Matters event.

I discovered one I’d forgotten about (hey, we have over 650 posts) — a response to a question asked by the good folks at Jacob’s Pillow and others back in 2009. I’m re-publishing a mildly updated version today.

A seed was obviously planted. Thanks JP!

Why Do You Dance?

I’ve been asked this question several times in the last few weeks. The folks at Jacob’s Pillow are asking the question, it was posed in a casual exchange last week, and in our forums.

I get the feeling I’m meant to answer!

I’ve had to truly think about it though. Frankly, when faced with the question directly, I’ve come up sort of empty. I’ve been immersed in dance my entire life or at least from the time that memory begins to serve me. Has there been an option not to dance?

Henri Matisse - wikipediaThis may surprise you.

I have not and do not always love everything about Dance as a career, as a path of study, as a goal, as a means to an end, as an activity, as a process.

BUT at a point early on, I discovered a deep passion for moving, discovering, and exploring, for communicating and connecting in this language, and for watching others do the same. That affection for THE Dance has prompted my pursuit of and pushes me onward in Dance.

I’ve never felt I was born with a gift for dance (others may agree, but I don’t quite mean that the way it sounds).

I mean, it’s not a gift I just have but a gift I’ve been given; a precious gift. Namely, by people in my life who have enabled me to experience both THE Dance and Dance. There have been many moments that dancing for myself has taken a backseat to my role as a teacher, passing on this gift but, always, my participation fuels the vehicle that transports THE Dance and Dance to others.

I can’t drive on ’empty’ for very long.

But why, Nichelle? Why do you dance?

As cliché as it may sound (and I assure you this comes from a very real sentiment), you might just as well ask “Why do you breathe?”

Dance is nearly as essential and involuntary. When I’m not dancing, I’m talking about dance. I’m watching dance. I’m sharing dance. I’m thinking about dance. My other interests all have a way of coming back around to dance… even this computer sitting at my fingertips.

(okay, we’re getting there…)


Because, like the air I breathe, dance has been a life-giving, life-sustaining force.

Each inhale has been a new experience – sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter – but always taken in and then sent forth into everything I create.

I’m quite sure that only when I exhale my last will the dance in my mind and in my body cease. And even then my essence will dance on.

So let’s get real: WHY Do YOU Dance?

And why stop there?

Shout it from the mountaintops! We could use a few more people doing that because, you know what?

Answering this question reminded ME why I dance, a nudge I know I need every once in a while to renew my purpose and motivation.

Thanks for letting me share this post with you… again! This WHY, originally posted over 3 years ago, has kept a fire burning under Dance Advantage. I’m certain that the exponential growth of the site and its community is the direct result of letting these truths drive this particular vehicle.