Those first two words, evoking the Abba song by that title from way back in 1976—the year I graduated from high school—are a blast from the past, aren’t they? While I may no longer be “Young and sweet/Only seventeen” like the subject of that song, I’m still a dancing queen. And the title may apply to me now more than ever. Especially if I go by definitions 3a and 3b of queen from Merriam-Webster Online: “a woman eminent in rank, power, or attractions; a goddess or a thing personified as female and having supremacy in a specified realm.”
That kind of gravitas is just not possible at seventeen. Don’t you agree? It’s much more true of us mature women. But let me be quick to clarify that while I find these descriptions true of me, any rank, power, attractions, and supremacy I feel are not over anyone else. Rather they are qualities I’ve stepped into, very recently, in my own realm. After too long being trapped in the toxic habit of externalizing my power, authority, and worthiness, I am finally self-sovereign. Released from unconsciously defining myself through others, I have crowned me Queen, of my world, my life.
And this queen loves to dance—always has. I managed to make room for it through childhood, adolescence, and into my early 20s, but when I got down to the “serious business” of becoming an adult, I lost vital touch with it for many decades. Blessedly, I reconnected with it in December 2018, when I stumbled upon 5Rhythms—a freeform conscious dance practice—during my healing journey. I’ve been at it ever since, racking up hundreds of hours both on my own and in community with other people, in-person and on Zoom.
The picture here, taken in 2019, is of me (on the left) with two fellow dancers, right after a Sunday morning 5Rhythms class, the sweat still drying on our skin. As you can see, I’m considerably older than my companions, but the joy on each of our faces is ageless. Which brings me to also being a dancing fool, and to definition 3b of that word from Merriam-Webster Online: “one with a marked propensity or fondness for something.” It’s written all over our faces, isn’t it? We’re fools for dance, and the floor is our playground.
To some, I suspect I also qualify under fool definition 1: “a person lacking in judgment or prudence” because I’ve fielded many versions of these questions: “Aren’t you embarrassed?” “Aren’t you too old?” “Isn’t it for real dancers?” My answer to all the above is: “Hell, no!” And I add, “Truthfully, if you’re human, you’re a real dancer!” Dance is an ancient practice, used variously to heal, build community, express gratitude, embody joy, and so much more. All members of species Homo sapiens are innately creatures of rhythm, and dance is in our DNA. Just watch any toddler respond to music.
When I’m on the dance floor, the queen and the fool are both there, in all their fullness. And so is the toddler, whom I’ve reclaimed from the clutches of trauma. One of my favorite 5Rhythms teachers, Kierra Foster-Ba, said to me just this week, “Dance is a powerful tool for human liberation,” and I’ve certainly found that to be true in my own life. My consistent engagement with it alongside somatic therapy has enabled me to break out of old prisons, reclaim vast amounts of energy, and move forward in life with renewed health and vigor. Plus, it’s just so much fun! It’s with great joy that I dance my heart out with the stamina to match folks many years my junior, offering living proof that it’s never too late to break free!
[See my Resources page for places to learn about 5Rhythms and other forms of conscious dance.]