The COVID lockdown messed me up my mental and emotional health in the first couple of months. I struggled with anxiety and paranoia. In the initial days, I often thought perhaps I am beginning to have the symptoms! I also felt guilty being unproductive, binging too much on Netflix, wasting time on trashy stuffs. It was also hard to feel isolated – without physical contact – seeing and hearing other people physically.
Relief came when I first started a routine to dance and sing again. I certify that dancing and singing in the COVID kept me sane, along with lots of Bible studies so I can talk with friends even if just virtual fellowship. These days I dance 2x a week with my dance instructor on FB. I join virtual choir of my home church. I discovered that singing makes me feel better each time I am upset. I felt good and energised after each dance.
I used to dance with two instructors on different days of the week, sometimes to the same music. It’s both challenging and fun to learn different steps for the same pieces. It keeps my mind alert and keeps my spirit high to dance differently to the same tune.
I like the interpretation of one teacher more. Why? Because more than just preference in style, I believe he is more creative and artistic in his execution. I also danced with him longer. I am more used to his moves.
On the other hand, it is fun to dance under the younger teacher because there’s a certain energy and passion that he brings to the class.
They both take rests or stop dancing in the middle of a piece. When they do, I sometimes need to look at classmates in front of me – those who know the steps I missed when I was absent. The younger one does not regularly review new pieces each week. So it’s up to the absent student to catch up. It challenged me to be attentive: quick to see and quicker to move – that’s how I can enjoy the dance – to be able to dance to the beat and be in sync with the others dancing.
I often think that dancing is a lot like singing. In the choir, we sometimes sing the same songs arranged by different composers. We also might sing the same arrangements conducted differently. While it is a challenge to learn different interpretations, it brings freshness to the music to sing differently. It requires attentive listening and watchful thinking to do the music and words justice.
In both singing and dancing, I am glad that I’m with a group. In choir, I sing most comfortably learning new pieces with ease when I sit with the veterans especially when I sing 2nd soprano. Their voices so strong and firm – it made the task of reading new music like a piece of cake. It is also better if seated ‘beside’ them or best if ‘in front’ of them.
Dancing “behind” the lead dancers works best for me. I prefer to be in the middle of the class – neither too close to the instructor nor too far from him. Just a little to the side behind him is best.
I realised that singing is the higher skill coz it needs both attentive ears and watchful eyes: ears both to listen to my own voice and others’ and eyes both to read my scores and to look at the conductor.
While dancing, seemingly does not require as much listening skills, one needs to feel the beat of the music. The more I am in sync to the rhythm, the more I am in tune to the mood or spirit of the dance.
In both cases, the conductor and the dance instructor lead the group to perform best with their silence. They lead with their hands, their feet, their eyes, their smiles and their energy! Sure, they can also either shout or whisper their instructions. Ultimately, singing and dancing are best done with ears attuned to the music and eyes glued to the teacher.
Now apply all the singing and dancing to living… sing and dance with God along with others in your class! What a life that can be!