• KK

So You Think You Can't Dance

The two things I (apparently) talk about the most around my house are my brain, and my workouts. I must bore the men around here (I live with all guys, unless you count Norma, who is 15 lbs of pure diva). When I first started to recover from my injury, I knew, somehow, that I needed to get moving. Now, please appreciate that movement wasn't something I had in my toolkit at that time. I walked like a toddler (for a variety of reasons but balance and coordination were just not my jam in those early days). I had to hang on to things and people just to get around. I was worried that I would be stuck like that forever.

Relearning to walk was hard.

childhood dance photo, girl with arm extended wearing tap shoes and tap costume
KK in tap class, 1981.

Your brain picks up stuff pretty quickly when it knows it knew it once before. We talk a lot about muscle memory - but it's your brain - it tells you where to go and what to do, and it tells your body how to do those things. Proprioception, our body's ability to know where it is in time and space, is such an important component of exercise. If you close your eyes and are able to touch your nose - you know what proprioception is. But proprioception is sometimes also our ability to see what someone else is doing or to hear instructions and to mimic them. I have clients who, if you asked them to put their arms out in front of their chest, they would stick them straight up in the air. That ability to understand what your body should be doing is a complicated series of connections between your body and your brain (and back again). It includes all of your available senses, and it doesn't always come naturally (at first).

People often tell me they can't dance. We can all dance.

You can dance even if you are sitting in a chair. You can dance with your eyes or the smile on your face. You can tap your foot or bob your head. What people who say they "can't dance" actually can't do is mimic or find synchronicity with another person, or the instructor. That connection between the body and the brain, using the visual relay of what they're seeing and translating it into their own movement, is where they need the practice. Like walking, it comes in time.

girl posing for tap recital photo, arm extended, amused expression on her face.
KK in tap class, 2009

It doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require some effort. When I was relearning to walk, one of the biggest struggles was understanding how big of a step I had to take, and then being able to look up from my feet to see where I was going (that one took a while). Eventually, my physical therapist had me toss a ball up in the air while I was walking (another thing that I was really bad at was catching balls). I walked over and around kleenex boxes (I smooshed a lot of kleenex boxes). The point is this. You can tell yourself you can't dance, but I promise that you can.

I make sure I dance every single day, because I learned to walk again and it wasn't pretty at first, and now it's as natural as can be. I'm not going to lose a moment of available dancing time because it's a gift we ALL have whether we think we can do it or not.

#dancefitness #disability #proprioception #braininjury #onlinedanceclass

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