Left, side, together. Right, side, together. Repeat. 1,2,3. 1,2,3. Forward, pause, back, pause, left, pause, right, pause. Remember to tilt the head. Pivot to promenade position, step out on left foot and pivot to closed dance position. Watch for partner to raise arm, then do six-count under arm turn. Oops, forgot to do the fancy hand movement. Back to closed position. Remember to keep the left elbow up, fingers closed and on his shoulder. Okay... here come the twinkles. Left foot back, right foot crosses behind, left foot crosses behind. Back to the closed position. Song's over. Whew!
Uh... is that a tango? Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. Slow, slow, quick, quick, tango close. Snap quickly to the promenade posision, slow, slow, pivot back to closed facing position. Darn! He forgot to take his car keys out of his right pocket and they're digging in my left hip. Eek! He dropped his hand. What does that mean? Oh yeah. Slow, slow, tango rock. Slow, slow, tango rock. Why do I feel like I need a rose between my teeth?
Excuse me while I practice my waltz and tango. And boy could I use this guy for a partner!
After years of talking about it, the DH and I decided to actually do it. Take ballroom dancing classes, that is. Ballroom is experiencing a surge in popularity, partially because of the weekly television show "Dancing with the Stars" and partially because of some recent studies indicating that people who participate in ballroom dancing are healthier and have a 40% lesser chance of developing Alzheimer's Disease.
Ballroom is fun, but it certainly isn't as easy as those stars make it look. I have to remember patterns of steps, recognize the tempo of the music and keep in sync with it, learn different rhythms, and get in character with each dance. Yes, dances have character. The waltz is very graceful and elegant while the tango is snappy and sharp and tempestuous. Okay... so I haven't got the tempestuous part down yet, but I'm working on it.
Dancing is good for you. If done properly, ballroom dancing is a great aerobic workout, uses different muscle groups (especially for women who get to spend a lot of time dancing backwards in heels), and keeps the brain engaged by memorizing all the patterns of steps.
And how does this relate to writing?
Writing keeps your brain engaged too. It forces you to think through problems and situations, increases your vocabulary (can you use the word 'behemoth' in a sentence?) and can be a terrific way to vent your frustrations. Just like ballroom dancing, writing has patterns, tempos, rhythms and characters. Each must be learned to make your writing sound right. Certain combinations of these are what create your specific voice.
"But I don't want to write the great American novel," you argue.
Don't. There are other kinds of writing that will give you the same benefits.
Try keeping a journal or writing your memoirs. This can help increase your sense of self while leaving a record of your life. Writing can help you work through difficult times. And a researcher at North Carolina State University found that writing frees up working memory, especially when writing about important life matters. This helps to prevent dementia.
People who journal about personal details are often healthier too. Putting your ideas and thoughts on paper helps you deal with a bad situation and get over it. You'll have less stress and many times that leads to less illness.
Many people don't write for fear of being judged. We in the Playground talk about contest entries and feedback. But the everyday person can keep a journal, get into the flow of writing and chronicle life without fear of being judged. You don't have to share your writing if you don't want to.
Oh... I hear La Cumparsita on the CD player. Dance class is tomorrow and I need to practice the tango.
What do you do to exercise your body and your brain?
P.S. Antonio's next movie, due out later this year, is called "Take the Lead" and is a true story about a professional ballroom instructor who taught dance in an inner city school. Antonio can teach me to tango any day. *g*