My legs swing up as I try to move the top half of my body in a completely different motion than my legs. As I dance, I am listening carefully to the drums, waiting for the moment when the drummers play the break, which cues that the dance will transition to the next step. After an hour and 15 minutes of movement, our teacher, Associate Professor of Dance Shani Collins-Achille, tells us that class is over. We make our way over to the drummers and thank them by tapping the ground with our hands. Each day I leave class sweating, a little confused and smiling.
For me, a self-proclaimed terrible (but fun) dancer, choosing to sign up for a dance class was definitely unusual. I spent about an hour or two the day before class registration trying to figure out which courses offered would fill requirements that I have left to complete my major. When I typed in the class code for dance, I thought I had made a grave mistake.
"What do I know about dancing,” I thought. I have never taken a dance class and I can't even touch my toes. I became even more worried about my fate after looking up West African Dance videos on YouTube. When I watched the different West African steps in the videos, my jaw dropped at the difficulty of the dances. Internally, I debated whether I should just save myself the embarrassment and sign up for a different class. But I love a challenge, and I realized that this would be a fun learning experience that would help me find my rhythm and become a better dancer.
On the first day of class, I stepped into Meyers Dance Studio, which can be found on the second floor of the College Center at Crozier-Williams. I loved how big the space was and that there was a whole wall of mirrors. This was a serious upgrade from the one mirror hanging on my bedroom door that I dance in front of to get ready in the morning. Since that first class, I have gone to Meyers every Tuesday and Thursday and moved my body in ways I never thought I could. There are a lot of steps that I definitely do not do correctly (yet) but I am always light-heartedly laughing at myself and trying to improve. Although I was originally afraid to dance in a class for fear of embarrassing myself, I have yet to be embarrassed because we are all learning and everyone makes mistakes. I have also found that dancing is the perfect break between my lectures and seminars–which led me to continue my amateur dance career by taking another dance class next year: Afro-Caribbean Dance.