Dancing with Strangers: a Way to Intimacy

teaching with Frankie

A joyful dance, as always, with the inspirational Frankie Manning

Intimacy without dance

I was at a conference a few weeks ago run by Bill Baron in which  I participated in a very interesting process.  We split into groups of 5.  We each commented on whatever our intuitive hits were about each other.  We learned a lot by what we heard each other say as well as what we picked up just from the person’s vibe.  Then each person completed the sentence: “If you really knew me, you would know this about me…”  The examples given set the tone to say something revealing about something traumatic that helped to shape who we are, but no rule said it couldn’t be positive.  When someone was particularly courageous, it inspired others to take risks as well.  Then we did it again, and the second time many of us felt inspired to say something more positive about ourselves.  I was astonished at how seen I felt by the intuitions 4 strangers were able to express about me.  By the end of this 10 or 15 minute exercise, we all felt as if we had made 4 new friends whom we could trust with our innermost thoughts.

Intimacy with dance

Intimacy is so difficult to achieve in our society, yet it’s right at our fingertips in so many ways.  Needless to say, my favorite is through dance.  Frankie Manning used to say that every dance was a 2 minute love affair.  “For two minutes,” he would say, “you’re in love with this lady.”  Every time I danced with Frankie, I felt the truth in that.  I felt appreciated.  I felt his joy in the connection.  I felt honored by him as much as I felt honored to be dancing with such a legend.    I felt loved and I also felt in love with him for that space of time. He was absolutely right.

Connecting through dance

I’ve spoken before about the importance of connection in partner dance.  I don’t mean just the physical connection of good lead and follow skills.  I also mean eye contact, showing appreciation for your partner, and allowing yourself to be totally present in the joy of the moment.  When we share such an experience with another, we often find that elusive human connection that we all crave.  When we participate in a dance community where we see the same people regularly over time, we also have community in our lives.  A circle of friends with whom to share laughter and support and conversation.

I have this in my dance community and it’s what I wish for all of my students.  It’s humanity at its’ best!


by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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