Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Dancing the way to personal fulfillment

Anuja Manjrekar

My days have always been split in half — the first consists of life’s responsibilities, and the second is an opportunity to escape them. I love to dance, and I can’t think of anything else that comes even close to how movement transcends reality. Now that I’m in college, I’ve decided to pursue it professionally, but that’s not why I love it. I love it because it offers me a meaningful outlet to explore who I am.

Not only is dance an outlet, but it is one of the most fundamental aspects of humanity. We dance daily with the simple yet meaningful ways we move our bodies through spaces. Everyone can dance, and there are a plethora of benefits to allowing our bodies to embrace artistic movement. 

Dancing more will not only benefit students’ physical and mental health, but it can create positive social outlets and a deeper appreciation for themselves.

A lot of people I know are afraid to dance because they are worried they won’t be good at it. It’s true that some individuals train rigorously in specific dance techniques and styles, but it is also the case that the people who enjoy dancing most do it for themselves. 

Associate dance professor Leah Cox explains that you don’t have to have any skill to enjoy dancing. 

“Somehow, it’s gotten into people’s heads that they have to be good at something in order to do it and that they’re going to get ridiculed if they’re not good at it,” Cox said. “Some of the most passionate dancers that we have here are in the non-majors classes because they’re not obsessed with being good at it and getting a job. They’re just wanting to dance.”

Dancing has nothing to do with how skilled you are at moving your body. Instead, it’s about the joy and fulfillment it can bring us. It allows us to physically experience and explore our bodies while positively impacting how we navigate our daily lives.

Sports management senior Karsen Wilkerson describes how taking dance classes in her free time has positively impacted her studies. 

“(Dancing) definitely keeps me happier and more engaged in my schoolwork,” Wilkerson said. “If I can feel good (dancing) for like two hours of my day, I know I can get through my homework.”

Dancing offers a kinesthetic break from our sedentary lives. Depending on how each individual chooses to approach it, dance can serve as both a physical decompressor and a healthy workout.

Moving our bodies is also beneficial for mental health. Dance is so impactful because it combines a physical practice with a deeply therapeutic means of expression. It allows us to both work through our emotions and show our bodies a form of self-love. 

“(After dancing), I feel better in my body because I’m expending energy that otherwise just sits there and gets spooled into anxiety or nervousness,” Cox said.

Social dance is another way to experience the benefits of dancing without the possible time constraint of taking dance classes. It’s also an incredible way to connect with people in a more casual environment. 

Darren Lopez, a neuroscience and Plan II junior, described how he enjoys two-stepping and swing dancing. 

“One thing with dance is it actually transcends language barriers, which is an amazing thing,” Lopez said. “What makes it fun is it’s a great way to talk to and to meet people but also just to have a good time in a variety of settings.”

There are many accessible opportunities on and off campus for students wanting to explore dance. Several on-campus organizations offer dance classes open to anyone interested in taking them. Dance Action, Texas Ballroom and various other on-campus groups offer a wide variety of classes for students to explore, and they don’t require you to have any previous experience dancing. 

Dance offers us the unique opportunity to simultaneously learn about ourselves and connect with others at the most basic human level. It can work in incredibly therapeutic ways as well as offer a fun physical workout to escape from our daily lives. Everyone has a body, so everyone has the opportunity to experience how meaningful movement can be.

Lack is a dance and Plan II sophomore from San Angelo, Texas.

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