why are dance classes so scary?


I just got this email from a student I had while I was at the Midwest RAD Fest last March.  

He was writing in response to my last email about wanting to cut off my legs  (here’s the link to that one if you happened to miss it…it’s a doozy).


I wanted to share his words with you, because I think he speaks to many of our fears/trepidations/struggles with dancing in a way that is raw and profound.

His words reminded me of how hard it can be to get one self dancing, which is just so paradoxical and strange, and yet so universal 


actually I don’t know about that.  

Is it actually universal?  

Or is it cultural? 

Or familial?  

Or personal?

I would love to hear your thoughts about this, ‘cause I just don’t know).

I mean, in my mind at least, dancing is at the heart of being a human being, right?

Just look at all of those youtube videos of little kids dancing their hearts out when some good music comes on.  

Those little kids don’t care one way or the other what you think about them or their dancing.

They just do it because that is what is materializing in their little bodies at that time.

They are dancing 

when they feel called to dance.

They are dancing

when they hear music that makes them want to dance.

They are dancing

when they just can’t stop themselves from dancing. 

But then,

something happens

and dancing can become a frightening endeavor indeed.

It may, at times, feel impossible to dance.

And I am trying to understand that part of it, for myself and for my students. 

After you read his email, let me know your thoughts about why dancing can be so scary.

Not all the time,

and for some people not ever,

but for some people, sometimes.


And then pass this blog post along to someone you know who is afraid, or is in someway struggling with their dancing.

Here is Jordan’s email to me, with some parts of his email edited out:

“I just wanted to send you my thanks for all of your messages and missions you send out. 

I met you early in the year in March at the Midwest RAD Fest and I can say genuinely that taking your class meant the world to me. 

Just before the class had begun I had almost convinced myself to sit out, thinking through all the usual reasons - "I am not (advanced-flexible-trained-ready) enough for this class," - but the moment your class began I felt all of those usual fears drift away. 

It's been a long time now since I've danced - really since March. 

I've been dealing with a long battle with my mental health, and in the process I've found it harder each day to get myself back on my feet dancing. 

No matter what though, I take the time to read your dance missions. Even if it's only to imagine how I would participate, I make sure to read them. 

It's almost like a small meditation for myself, a reminder that soon enough I'll get back on my feet, and no matter how long it takes, I'll get there.

There are days I want to cut off my own proverbial legs - to somehow rid myself of all the thoughts of wonder that seem outside my grasp. 

But then I find myself here, writing to you on a whim, and in the process trying to remind myself…that no matter how insurmountable things may seem, I just gotta dance. 

I have so many creative censors buzzing over my desire to create, and knowing that there are spaces where people are learning to break down those barriers gives me hope that I'll learn to do the same.”

Once I read this email, and communicated with Jordan back and forth a few times, it became so clear to me how helpful being in connection and communication with someone else is when we are overcoming a fear, or a question, or some sort of obstacle in our dancing.

So, your dance mission for this week is to find someone to dance with.

This dance mission can take on many different forms.

It may be going to a club with a friend and dancing all night long.

It may be talking to someone about dancing, and then going off and dancing on your own, then coming back and telling them how it went.

it may be signing up for a dance class.

It may be having a family dance night in the kitchen after dinner.

It may be inviting a friend over to dance with you on a Saturday afternoon.

Or it may be something else entirely.  

Maybe it means going back to the dance mission from last week and changing on the dial of the radio as you and your partner switch who is dancing and who is switching the dial.

Notice if and how the dancing changes when you are talking about it, doing it, experiencing it,  exploring it, with someone else.  

With warmth and “jivey vibes”  

(that last part, the jivey vibes part, is from Jordan, the student who wrote this email.

I love it.  So I am using it this week as a my sign-off),



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending