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Y’all know I’m pretty obsessed with dancing (see: all the blogging I do about it). But even I’ll admit that there can be drawbacks to pursuing it obsessively.

Photo of me taken by Raven's Aerie.
Photo of me taken by Raven’s Aerie.

I really enjoyed this article, The Dark Side of Dance Addiction, and I’ll recommend that you click over to read it. But here are some highlights.

Warning of escapism, the author writes:

The dance floor can become our escape from reality. While this is great in some situations, it’s deadly in others. It’s great to be able to escape from a tough situation for some fun – but only if you’re able to return to the problem re-charged and ready to deal with it.

Further, if we idolize dance we run the risk of mistaking it for something it is not:

Dance is not human. As therapeutic and social as dance is, it can’t fill in for interpersonal relationships on its own. It can’t make your health and financial security woes disappear. It can’t come to rescue you when your car breaks down at 4 a.m. on a highway and you have no way home (though the people you meet through dance might).

For me, belly dance and the flow arts connect me to communities I care about. They help improve my body image (because I focus on what I can do primarily, and how I look secondarily, and usually I get cool costumes to bolster my self-image). They challenge me to always be improving, whether it’s in my posture or my flexibility or stamina or expressivity. There’s just… always more to work on, while building confidence based on what I already can achieve.

But I take the warning as a timely one: dance is not human. Using it to recharge is different than using it to escape. I hope to continue to use dance as a tool to grow and gain valuable life experience and connections, rather than wind up depleted and lonely. In the meantime, if anyone ever wants to talk to me about their experiences with the dark side of dance, consider the metaphorical door open.

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Jeana Jorgensen

FOXY FOLKORIST Studied folklore under Alan Dundes at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy...