Posted by: syncopated1 | April 1, 2011

Chapter 2: Knee Flapping and How Finding Your Own Dance Can Elevate Your Mood and Soul

As Americans, and people in general, we spend a lot of time burdened by inhibitions mostly imposed on us by the norms and behaviors of society. A lot of people I know don’t dance at all! Some people I know dance all the time! The latter tend to be happier I have seen. And when I say dance all the time, I mean all the time. They have found that they have a dance in their hearts and have to express it. Being in tune with themselves and their own magic beat they can’t hear all the world telling them that it is weird for them to be dancing when, where and how they want. And who can’t agree that when you can’t hear the naysayers you are far happier than when you can?

For my own personal testimony, I started small. I went to contra dances and learned the steps and followed them, I was never a very imaginative dancer. As I got older, and went through periods of unhappiness I began to question what was missing. Contra dancing, which once made me so happy was just something to do. Eventually I came to understand that I had been listening to the great voice of all my peers and was trying to be cool, or something I’m not. I was trying to be a quiet, unexpressive dancer, going to clubs and doing a very austere White Man Shuffle. I was miserable. At home I would listen to music I loved and I would bop around my room and apartment just moving anyway I wanted and having a grand old time. As my bops and twitches began to coalesce into something resembling a style, and when that style began to find it’s way into things I did in my everyday life (work, classes, driving), my faith in myself and confidence in my own personality grew. I started to embellish my contra dances, adding pieces that were uniquely Skylar Cook, including some of my happy dances. It was fun! Now that I have embraced that I am a huge dork and my dancing at home or in public embodies this completely, I have been able to identify exactly what the naysayers will say about me and my dancing. And I tell you what, that is exactly what I love about the songs and dances that are always rattling around in my person all day long.

I’m not trying to say that everyone is a dork like me, in fact, I can almost guarantee that no one is a dork like me. But each of us can and should identify that part of them deep down that always wants to move when music (any music) is playing. Dancing is perhaps the easiest and one of the greatest forms of personal expression we can use, whether by ourselves in complete privacy or on a stage in front of hundreds. So why deny it? I have never danced, even for five minutes, and been unhappy afterward. That is impossible.

Now that I have decided to try, I am finding it very difficult to tell you WHY dance is such a powerful tool for being happy; I know that for a lot of people simple assertions are not enough. So I suggest homework! Next time you are going to play music around your home, play your favorite song in the entire world. I don’t care if it is Brahms’ 5th or Yori, Yori by Bracket. Doesn’t matter if you choose to listen to a Dean Martin tune or heavy, death metal. As you listen to this song try to be aware of your mind and body. Some part of you will move with the music, whether it is a simple sway or foot tab. Maybe a slight bob of the head? Grab ahold of that and explore it! Play the song again, or move on to more music like that and disappear into it. Let your body go with the music and then try to tell me you aren’t smiling or you at least feel better in general.

As a friend of mine once said, “It’s a feeling of a dance party inside of me all day long!”

Find your dance, and let it sing through every inch of your body

This is just a fun little example of knee-flapping, courtesy of my content editor, Leah.

As always, share this, I welcome feedback, criticism. What first started as idle conversation among friends and family is now becoming an almost philosophical obsession of mine: of how to be happy all the time.



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