Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jazz Hands

The other day, in the middle of dancing a song, I made a mistake and mixed up the choreography for the chorus with that of the verse.  I realized after a few counts that I had done this and felt a little nonplussed, so I decided to just do “jazz hands” until I could catch up with the chorus at the right place.  I might note here that every single person in the class (other than me) was dancing the choreography in all the right places!
“Jazz hands” are defined by the Urban Dictionary this way: “The move is performed by tilting the head slightly, shimmering the hands with fingers splayed either side of the face and crying "Jazz hands!" with an enthusiastic smile. Think Jack from Will and Grace.”
I experience many embarrassing moments.  They seem to follow me around like mischievous children looking for something to do.  

After this class, I thought that jazz hands are a really good segue for any awkward moment.  Of course, it could also make an awkward moment more awkward, but why not just go for it – how much worse could it get?
So here’s what I’m thinking:
I’m in a situation where I’ve forgotten what I’m saying mid-sentence: jazz hands.
I just have nothing to say and am drawing a blank: jazz hands.
Someone has said something to me that has made me angry and I don’t want to respond in kind –yes, jazz hands.
And, my favorite, I’ve totally forgotten the choreography in the middle of a dance class -- you got it -- jazz hands.
The bottom line is this: I’m going to try it.  Will it cover up my senior moments?  Dunno.  I will try to remember not to do it while having an embarrassing moment while on the phone, but I can’t guarantee that will be the case.  (Hmmm, maybe if I just said, “Jazz hands!” that’ll do it.) 

Just know that from now on, you’ll be seeing me waving my hands around a lot.  And if you join me in this social experiment, please let me know how it turns out!  

 Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Sunday, March 22, 2015


When dancing or creating choreography, I must consider the space.  Dance is design in the body defined by two frames – the music and the space.  By space I mean the shapes or lines the body makes within the frame of the studio.  The dancer can make herself big, small, expanded or contracted. 
We always have a choice about how we are going to use that space, whether we are choreographing or dancing.
What I’ve observed lately is that our energy and our minds also have “space.”  As I’ve noted before in this blog, I am a champion worrier.  And I notice that when I am fearful, nothing seems to work right.  When I can let go of the fretting, my life works so much better because I am happier.  I am aware of all the good things rather than focusing on what could happen.  

We have a choice as to how we are going to use our inner space, too.  Are we going to be open or closed?  Are we going to clutter our minds with fear, worry and resentment, or are we going to let go of fear and embrace love (which has infinite “space”)?
If you let yourself get quiet, you can feel that focusing on anger, resentment or fear take up space in your energy and narrow your vision.  

When we allow those negatives to remain, we are closing off the possibilities of the good stuff coming to us.  We are allowing the clutter to take up space that could be filled with openness, receptivity and love.  

When we are talking, we cannot listen; when we are worrying, we can’t receive. 

When we let go of our resentments, we drop the weight of fear and open ourselves up to love and all that springs from love.
We have complete control over whether our inner space is clear or closed-off; it is a choice.  We don’t have to do anything but decide that we will let go of the fear.  Once we give ourselves permission to do this, we are wide open to receive all that love can give.  

Take charge of your space and watch what happens.

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Saturday, February 7, 2015


I have written on many Valentine’s Days about how when we first meet our romantic partner, we fall in love with everything – his way of talking, walking, smiling, thinking.  But after a time, some of this thrill towards the other can wear thin.  Even things we used to think were adorable, we now may find annoying.  And that’s normal.  But we say to ourselves, “I was infatuated with this person, I wasn’t really seeing the ‘real’ him.”  And so we feel a little disappointed.

Certainly there are some relationships that need to end.  But even in those cases, in the beginning we still saw the best in our partner.  Sometimes a person gets so alienated from his truth, there's no way for the relationship to flourish.  But when the partnership still works, we don't need to invalidate our initial euphoria.

The truth is that when we saw the other as perfect, that was the truth.  We were seeing our partner transparently; we were seeing his true spirit through the veneer of the material world.  At our core is our spirit and our spirit is perfect – inside we are joyful children – full of love, innocence, simplicity, and trust. 

When children dance, the joy of movement comes from within and we are lucky when we can witness such delight.  It makes our hearts swell to encompass the love we feel in the presence of such innocence and purity.  

As we get older, we often stop ourselves from giving in to the abandon that music can produce in us.  We are afraid that we will look stupid or that we are “showing off.”  

When we observe children dancing, we don’t look for a beautiful “line,” a pointed toe.  We see the spirit of the child expressing itself.  

If only we could treat ourselves with such indulgence.

Whether you have a significant other or not, I propose that this Valentine’s Day, you (and all of us) decide to be infatuated with ourselves.

Within us is our perfect spirit, a beautiful dancing child -- innocent and blissful and pure.  We should never forget who we are, just as we should not lose touch with the truth about our partners.

When we can see this in ourselves, we have changed our lens. We can then see this perfection and beauty in everyone around us.  We can remember that we all have this goodness and happiness within us.

So this Valentine’s Day, let’s learn to be infatuated with ourselves.  It’s the best way to pass that love around.

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks

Saturday, January 17, 2015


This is my first blog post of 2015, and yes I have specific things I want to work on this year and every year.  Of course I always want to be a better dancer/choreographer and I continually try to become more proficient.  But the desire to be “better” and the ensuing action to make that real does not happen in a vacuum. 

Everything I do begins with my thought.  My thought produces a feeling and then I see my world through the “lens” of that feeling.  It is my choice what thoughts I want to nurture and what thoughts I need to surrender.

It amazes me when I think of all the time and energy I waste on wanting some situation to be different.  It is a form of self-torture.  I’d like to stop doing that to myself. 

So here are the major points of my meditation in the mornings:

1) With a feeling of trust, let go of everything I have no control over.

2) Whatever I choose to notice in my life (the wonderful and not-so-wonderful) is the lens through which I will interpret everything in my world.

I have come to understand that whatever situation I am confronted with, I actually have the power to change my lens and see it from another perspective. 
Now my key inner dialogue is: “Let go of whatever I can’t control” and “See what’s really good in my experience right now.”

Being a better dancer/choreographer can only come from my choosing not to worry and trusting that I will find my way. 

Here are some things I’ve learned that I hope to better internalize: 

I have learned that when inspiration is not forthcoming, it’s time to take a break.

I have learned that my children need to learn their own lessons.  I can certainly say what I believe, but then I must let go and trust that they know their own minds. They have their own path.

I have learned that not everyone is going to like me or what I do, and that it’s okay. It’s not personal. Conversely, when I don’t like someone, I can usually hold up a mirror and see that the person has triggered something in me that I need to address.

I have learned that when I choose to see my life through the lens of gratitude, more shows up in my life to be grateful for.

I have learned that love really is indestructible.

I have learned that my body has a lot of information to give me about my emotions.

I have learned that what I see and feel within me shows up in my world.  The more I love myself, the more love I see everywhere.  The more I bless my life, the more life seems to bless me.  The more joyful I feel, the more joy I see around me.  

The more I dance with life, the more I can trust that life leads me to my best self.

And I have learned that I will never stop dancing – which really makes me smile and feel even more gratitude.

Thank you for dancing with me.
Happy 2015!

Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks