Balancing dance and self appreciation

Sara Entezarmahdi

Behind the graceful steps of a ballerina or the confident body rolls of a hip hop dancer, there lies people who sacrifice their bodies for the art of dance. Dancing is not an easy sport. Although it is a eloquent and therapeutic form of expression for many, there are multiple pressures along the way to achieving success in the art, from how one looks to the way their body can move. Dance teacher Dasha Plaza explains why it is important to take moments away from the pressures of both dancing and life to reconnect with yourself, reward yourself and appreciate yourself. Read the Q&A below to see her perspective on the importance of balancing dance and self appreciation.

Q: Explain the importance of dance in itself – why is it important?

A: Well, it’s a silent language of your expressions through movement, through musicality, through patterns in space. And I think a lot of people express their thoughts in writing [or] making art. But dance is a great way for a lot of our students to outlet their feelings… It inspires you. It kind of creates that relationship where you can freely enjoy yourself and realize, ‘Wow I’m really expressing this love, this positivity through the movement while I’m dancing.’ So, I think it’s definitely important.

Q: How about the importance of appreciating yourself?

A: I think I’ve been inspired to talk about this message through my yoga practices because I think in dance, in my training, in my experiences a lot of times we’ve been always criticized. Throughout all the class – throughout all the shows. So, not that many teachers are really rewarding in compliments when you get to a certain level of professionalism. So, once I started doing yoga myself, those messages that the teachers, yoga books, and philosophies promotes inspired me to send that message to others… It’s definitely important that people are reminded of all these positive things because everyone gets caught up in [their daily lives and] we always think about what we need to do or how hard we have it and forget to focus on good things. So, that’s been definitely my extreme message and my hope for this year – especially through my classes.

Q: How does self-appreciation better a person in dance or in general really?

A: It’s hard in dance as far as judging yourself because you’re constantly thinking about flexibility or more turns or better jumps and so on. But, self appreciation, I work on myself constantly as a dancer. Reminding [myself] once again, ‘okay I have these quality expressions – the audience can really feel my expressions,’ so I have to remind myself that’s what I have and as a performer – that’s what my strengths are. I think appreciating things that you have and you’re capable of doing makes you a stronger performer – a stronger believer in yourself. So if you believe in yourself, definitely the audience will believe you – they will feel that.

Q: When was the moment you realized you needed to appreciate yourself?

A: It probably wasn’t until five years ago that I really kind of tuned in with myself. After I moved back from New York and I was so upset to leave New York because I really didn’t want to move back. But because of family situation, I had to move back. So, I was constantly thinking something that my job wasn’t finished as a performer there. That’s when I started going to a yoga studio. I always did yoga, but I did it more for the physical aspect a lot of the time just to get a workout to work on my flexibility and stuff. But, once I found a really good teacher that connected to me and was sending those messages to me, that’s when I started appreciating things.

Q: So, you meditate. Why and what does it help with?

A: I meditate to destress myself, to center myself. I don’t know if you ever notice that somebody has this buzzing energy around them. You talk to a person and you feel they’re constantly nervous – they have this weird vibe about it and I can’t describe it. I’m really sensitive to it. Because I’m working with so many students and so many people in general, that energy gets to translate and kind of stick to me and I carry out through the day and it affects me definitely. It strains me sometimes. So meditating is kind of cleansing my own internal world, my thoughts, my personal energy, my area so I can fully recharge and then give my, hopefully good, vibes and energy to others.

Read the Piktochart below to delve into the art of meditation, a way to destress and center yourself.’