We are thankful to have a guest blog post today. We found the Girl with the Tree Tattoo through Social Media and began following her journey. We were just beginning to discover the benefits of solo practice and we have been so encouraged by her writing and resources that we would like to introduce you as well. We feel confident that many will relate to her passion for dance and challenges to improve. We now carry her journals in our shop and to competitions as well as use them ourselves.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I have a cute painted sign of the phrase hanging in my kitchen actually. It’s meant to be a metaphor for philosophy on coping with Life’s challenges. Considering our current pandemic reality, I think we can start taking it a little more literally.

We are all struggling in one or more ways, thanks to the coronavirus. With everything going on in the world, it may seem silly to be mourning our canceled competitions and closed dance studios. A dance “hobby” may seem like the last thing we should be thinking about.

I couldn’t disagree more. An unprecedented period of history like the one we’re living in now is a time when we need our creative outlets like dance more than ever.

I’ve been working/staying home for about six weeks now. I’m getting groceries delivered and don’t have to really leave my apartment except to walk my dogs. As an introvert, it honestly hasn’t been that bad. I’m fine spending time by myself with the occasional check-in with family and friends. I do miss dance though.

Solo Practice GuideThose who know me might think I’d easily adjust to dancing at home. I’m certainly no stranger to practicing ballroom on my own. My budget has always limited the number of private lessons I take and the number of competitions I enter. The majority of my dance training has been done solo. I became so good at solo practice and saw such great results in my dancing that I wrote a book on the subject: The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing.

For the first few weeks of staying home though, I didn’t really feel like dancing. I was overwhelmed by the tremendous number of new online classes being offered and felt like I needed a break from it all to process the loss of the old normal. I wanted to dance, but the outlets being offered felt like poor substitutes for something great that was now gone. I still needed the stress relief and creative outlet that dance has always provided me, but this was a new reality and I had to figure out what dance looked like for me in this new reality.

Gradually, I tried different things. I took a couple of online group classes. I decided my new focus for my solo practice, which was pretty much ALL of my dance training at this point, would be fitness. I’d keep my body in shape, so I’d be ready to go once the post-pandemic reality came to light. I told myself I’d keep reviewing my competition routines, so I didn’t forget them. Still, I struggled. I wasn’t finding the escape or relief that dance would normally provide.

Then one morning I had a Pandora radio station playing and “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman came on. Ever since the movie was released, this song has been an anthem of strength and resilience for me. The emotions it invoked in me reminded me of the emotions I access when I dance Tango. To the dismay of my dogs, I stopped prepping their breakfast and danced a few bars of my Open Tango routine to this song that was definitely not a Tango, except in the feeling it gave me.

For a few brief moments, I felt some of the old normal. I was inspired to move to the music and that’s just what I did. It wasn’t practical. It didn’t serve any purpose except to give me a quick escape into that magical world of dance that has felt closed off ever since everything started to shut down.

Though not considered “essential” to our society during a crisis like COVID-19, dance and other creative outlets are absolutely essential to us as individuals. We need those magical moments of escape, so our souls can catch their breath and return us to reality with a little more strength and courage.

So I want to encourage you to continue to seek them out. Even in such serious times, seek out those moments of magic that have no purpose except to exist. Maybe the old way of escaping to dance is closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a new way. As another notable phrase goes (this one by Albert Einstein):

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.”

This storm will also pass, but until it does, let’s dance.

Katie Flashner

Katie Flashner

a.k.a. The Girl with the Tree Tattoo, is a ballroom dancer and blogger. Her mission is to inspire and motivate dancers to take ownership of their dance journeys, so they can connect with who they truly are and perform with greater confidence and joy.

Katie has been studying ballroom dance since 2012 and has successfully competed as an amateur ballroom dancer since 2014, including winning the 2018 World Champion title in American Smooth. Since starting her blog in 2015, Katie has welcomed thousands of visitors who value her openness and willingness to share the good, the bad, and the awkward of her journey while shedding light on the rarely addressed mental and emotional aspects of being a ballroom dancer.

In addition to writing on her blog, Katie regularly contributes articles to FloDance and Sheer Dance magazine. She has also been featured in DanceBeat magazine, Dancesport Place, Dance Comp Review, Dance Advantage, and American Dancer magazine. Her latest book, The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing, received over 4 stars in Amazon reviews.

Katie lives in Orange County, California with her two dogs and recently released a pair of journals, The Journal for the Whole Dance Journey and The Choreography Journal, designed specifically for dancers who want to take ownership of their dance journeys.

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