WHEN WRITING the “Fit for Life” column for this magazine, finding new story ideas was a consistent challenge. Over six years, I learned dance was the one bottomless topic. No matter how many dance classes I took, I always could find more. Balkan dance, jitterbug, flamenco — someone always was teaching a type of dance somewhere.
I was intrigued by the fact that every culture has a dance, and that there are so many options.
I also heard through the years that dance makes a difference in aging well. It made sense to me, from the brain challenge to the balance and focus required, regardless of the type of dance. I’ve met dancers ages 2 to 102, and have been impressed by folks in their 70s and up who dance every week.
Because of the vast choice of dance styles and the health component, dance seemed like an ideal topic for the story in this Health & Fitness Issue. Plus, because I had encountered such a rich range while writing the column, I knew writing about dance would provide insight into the way we move in Seattle. I also missed taking dance classes, and reporting on dance meant I could take house, salsa and tap-dance classes. Job perks.
I was interested in writing about and experiencing a range of dance styles, though I also focused on how regular folks dance, rather than the pros at Pacific Northwest Ballet or other professional performers.
I discovered that while people dance for fitness, they also do it for expression, for joy, for community. While dance has clear physical benefits, the mental and emotional ones run deep. It’s an experience that can’t be replicated any other way.
Writing this story inspired me to return to a regular tap-dance class. I hope it inspires you to dance more, too.