A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how my summertime dancing has pretty much worn me down to the bone, so I guess it was a blessing that there were no 5Rhythms events on the calendar this past weekend. Instead, I was able to attend something much lighter and less intense—an ’80s-themed YogaDance class led by Nikki, who admitted to being sick and feverish but still managed to be her usual firecracker self.

To be honest, at first, the ’80s theme almost scared me away. I was born in 1980, so I never felt particularly connected to the songs that made the decade. I mean, for most of that time period, I was listening to Rainbow Brite books on tape, Jem and the Holograms cassettes, or music that came along with my Barbie and the Rockers doll. It wasn’t until the ’90s when I started to fully understand the music of my times; you know, classics like Kris Kross’ “Jump,” Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do (I Do it For You)” (which can make 12-year-old girls in love with their classroom D.A.R.E. officer weep…true story), and, of course, “Ice, Ice Baby.”

The tipping point that got me to go to the ’80s class was the fact that a decent number of people had already RSVP’d, and, well, I’m beginning to understand and appreciate the power of a group. I’d get to dance, sneak in a “doesn’t-feel-like-exercising” workout, and be around some fun people. I realized that I genuinely wanted to be part of the party!

…And a party it was! There were scarves! We “Vogue”d! Heck, we even re-created the chair/water scene from Flashdance‘s “Maniac”!

However, it took me a while to get into the groove. The premise of YogaDance is to move through the chakra system; most classes start with the lower “feeling” chakras and work their way up into the “speaking” and “thinking” chakras. I was so much in my head at the start of class that diving first thing into the muladhara and swadhisthana chakras just didn’t feel natural. I struggled to find my sultry cat during “Stray Cat Strut” and may have let George Michael down with my half-assed rendition of “I Want Your Sex.” I’m curious how my movement may have been different had these numbers come later in class, after I worked through the mental chatter.

The disconnection I was feeling was unsettling, so I thought back to the reason I came to the class: The power of a group! I shifted my attention to everyone else, being aware of not just my own movement but of everyone around me—fully acknowledging their smiles, exuberance, and connection to the music. I loved seeing YogaDance newbies just let it all loose, watching fellow dancer Suzie rock out like Cyndi Lauper, witnessing women belt out the lyrics to “Tainted Love.” Before I knew it, I had been infected (with love!). People frequently tell me that my passionate movement inspires them to dance deeper, but that Friday night I really needed others to be my lighthouse.

Even with the ’80s theme, Nikki constructed appropriate ways to dance into the more sentimental upper chakras. She used a beautiful ballad version of “Time After Time” (by Cassandra Wilson) as music for an Irish circle dance that may have brought tears to my eyes. (OK, it did.) For our last song, Joe Cocker’s “Up Where We Belong” was the soundtrack to our individual prayer dance. I loved how some people bust out into a full-blown lyrical dance (me) and others sat in stillness but yet bursting with gratitude. Everyone’s prayer was one of love, but they were expressed so uniquely.

I didn’t even realize it at the time, but Nikki sneakily led her class for an additional 30 minutes. The hour-long class I was originally reluctant to take had grown into 90 minutes without my knowing, and I have to thank not just Nikki but every other person in that studio for showing me just how fun an evening of INXS, Michael Jackson, and The Cure can be.

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