Dance is a largely physical expression. Not that many of us use our words all that much. In many circles, the physicality is one of the things that overcomes the barriers created by language. But, sometimes our words can have power.

Power that can be used for great good… or great evil… Muahahahahaha!!

I’m largely joking on the evil part, although the wrong words can certainly hurt. But, what about the fact that the right words can have an amazing effect on your community, dance partners, and more? Your words can alleviate anxiety and fear, soothe a rough day, make someone glow, or inspire confidence.

In an environment where we are so used to using our bodies as expression, we have become accustomed to second-guessing the intent behind body gestures. A smile may be just a polite smile. A dance that seems good to us could just be someone trying to keep us from feeling miserable. We have become desensitized to the sensual touch that used to be a sure-fire way to gauge interest.

Dance is the opposite of everyday life, where we look at behavior to illuminate the verbal underpinnings. Instead, we look to words to affirm our actions and behaviors on the dance floor.

Why Is This Even Important??

Have you ever had the dance that you’re really enjoying, but you get really nervous because you’re worried the other person isn’t having a fun time? Maybe you never asked that person to dance again cause you thought they didn’t enjoy that dance. Maybe both of you were thinking the same thing about each other.

The thing is, without verbalization of the positive feelings we have, we are prone to a guessing game of body language. When we state our thoughts (especially the positive ones) in a genuine and open way, it consolidates the footing we are on. It tells our partners whether we do want another dance or not. It takes the fear out of asking for another dance at a later time.

Why wouldn’t you want that kind of fear to go away?

The Third Party Problem

Funnily enough, in total there are plenty of compliments, good feeling, and appreciation in the dance scene… the problem is that the recipients of these are often not the people who should be hearing the piece of information.

For example, do you talk to your friends about how much you LOVE dancing with that one particular person? Do you muse at how certain people are working so hard or progressing so well in the scene? Now, ask yourself why you’re talking about these things to people other than the person they’re about? Wouldn’t you love to hear people recognizing you, your hard work, or a connection you have with another dancer to your face?

I suggest that we look to ourselves to set the example. If we share the love, so will others in time.

So, how do we use our words for the greater dance good?

Be Generous.

The first rule for words is to be generous. If you have a good thought, don’t hesitate to share it. I can almost guarantee it will be received well. It doesn’t matter who it is. Be generous with your words and you will create a much healthier, vibrant and happier dance scene just by being you.

Did you just have a great dance with a friend? Tell them “Damn, that was a great dance”
Has that newcomer improved a ton? Say “You’re doing so well! You’re either working really hard, or are very talented!”
Are you dancing with someone you admire greatly? Let them know “You’re one of the people in dance I admire most”

Give these things freely, expect nothing back. Part of generosity is that it comes from the heart, and is not a tit-for-tat situation. If the response is a thank you (and nothing more), that’s fine. Part of giving such words is not expecting to be entitled to a compliment in return. If you can eliminate that expectation, it makes it much easier to give (and receive) compliments freely.

Getting over the Fear

It can be hard to let go of fear, and admit these things to another dancer. In order to voice these opinions, it requires stripping a layer away and leaving a piece of you vulnerable. It requires setting aside your own ego to see the good in your partner, and what they have contributed. It also requires setting aside your fear of rejection or ridicule.

With friends where vulnerability and closeness already exist, it is easier to get over those fears. With these people, there is already a safe bubble in which you can talk about things. This also explains the third-party problem: it’s not as uncomfortable to talk about someone to a third party because there’s no worry of rejection or fear. 😉

In order to move past the fear, we also need to let go of our own ego. The thing you are saying is because you want to spread joy to another person. In a weird way, when you are saying something kind it’s not about you, it’s about the recipient. It requires humility, grace, and kindness to make something about giving good feelings to another person, rather than worrying about the judging and reception of your words.

How to Get Good at Spreading the Love


Start with those close to you. If you can’t do it face-to-face, start with a Facebook message. Next, let a friend know how awesome you feel after a great dance. After that, find others in your scene that you’re perhaps not as close with, and find their admirable qualities. From there, move on to strangers, your favorite pro’s, and more.

The more love you spread, the more comfortable you will get with putting yourself out there to make others feel like they’re on top of the dance world! Share the love, and share this article on Facebook with your dance friends!


Photo: Brian De Rivera Simon, Tarsipix Studios