Dance Space and Going With the Flow


I missed the memo about dance space and going with the flow.

This is my dance space, this is your dance space.

The other day, in a preemptive strike against the caloric onslaught of Thanksgiving, I went to Zumba class.  Ya’ll know I love me some Zumba, but this particular class was not as enjoyable as it usually is.  It was super crowded, so space was at a premium.  Under these circumstances, people tend to adjust how much room they consume, and people with even minimal social awareness tend to be extra mindful of how close they are to other people.

But in this particular class, there was a young man who I took to be about 17 years old.  He was one of these tragically spaztastic kids who can’t stop doing random karate moves.   I was vaguely sympathetic to his plight, as when I was his age, I was once told I would have been good-looking if I would just stand still.

So as class began, I took a spot in the back of the crowded studio, well away from the highly energetic youngster.  As class got going, he was just bubbling over with energy and doing every move extra big.  A little inconsiderate under the crowded circumstances, but his enthusiasm is forgivable.  But he also dropped out formation a lot, to fiddle with his shoes, to get water, to wrangle a better view of the instructor, etc.  This I found kinda rude, because then he would work his way back into his original spot, and as he did he intruded into the space of everyone around him.

Having my dance space invaded by an overzealous adolescent is one of my many tragic, First World problems, but whenever something bugs me, I try to root around and figure out why it bugs me.  In this instance, there’s of course the personal space factor.  Everyone needs their bubble, and I think I need my bubble to be a little bigger than most people. I’m not great in crowded situations and if you are a close talker, then I’m sorry, you and I probably can’t be friends.

Seriously, don’t be this guy…

But the other thing that I think factored in to my annoyance is that by moving around the studio and nearly tripping his fellow Zumba-ers this kid was interrupting the flow of the class and I really, really value “flow”.  By “flow” I mean that feeling of connection that sometimes comes when you’re completely present in an experience.  It comes in lots of forms, in work, in play, in calm, and in crisis.  For me, this feeling of connection is precious and fleeting, as my mind is typically unquiet and busy, so happy, focused attention is not my forte. I experience “flow” in dance-y sort of situations, so I look forward to Zumba class almost as much as I look forward to Christmas.  I need these little moments to help me find something that resembles inner peace.

Ever see the movie “Phenomenon“?  It’s a little schmaltzy, but it’s one of my favorites.  There’s a scene that kinda illustrates what I mean by “flow”….George (as played by John Travolta) is struggling to harness his new-found energy and abilities, and he finds an outlet in his garden.  As he’s frenetically hoeing  (that sounds dirty, but it’s not, well, there’s dirt involved, but, you know what I mean…) he happens to look up and see the trees swaying in the breeze.  He has a little moment where he slows himself down and sways in time with the branches.  He feels connected to everything around him, and that moment gives him a lot of clarity. Here, watch:

I’m uncharitably hoping that the young man who invaded my dance space  was just home on a break from his Kung Fu college and will not be at future Zumba classes.   But if not, I’ll just try to keep my distance and go with the flow.  Memo received.

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2 thoughts on “Dance Space and Going With the Flow

  1. Chloe December 4, 2011 / 4:51 am

    I am very much like you in this. I hate flow interruption and I hate people invading my space. The kid would have totally irritated me. Maybe he has some condition and his therapy is to go work off that energy in Zumba class. Sheesh.

    • Jamie Walker Ball December 4, 2011 / 5:57 pm

      Yeah…I left out the part about his long wavy, red hair…the sort that would have made him dead sexy in 1972, but makes him a little tragic in 2011…this kid had a lot going on, so I tried to muster up a little bit of compassion, but I was seriously annoyed.

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