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Dancing Like Baby ...

Happy New Year! I have always loved Patrick Swayze movies, especially the 1987 classic Dirty Dancing, featuring the dreamy Swayze, an excellent dancer, as Johnny Castle and Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman. This popcorn blockbuster has all the ingredients of a great chick flick: love, romance, conflict, intrigue, suspense, triumph, and what I love most of all—dancing!

The overarching theme portrays an inevitable collision of destiny for two opposite worlds: the free-spirited, fearlessly raw, “not-so-politically-correct” world of Johnny’s and the safe, secure, reputable world of Frances’ as she vacations over the summer at a Catskills, New York, camping resort. Johnny is the dance instructor employed to teach campers, mostly wealthy and well-connected, to dance. He does just that but most notably with Baby.

Moving the story along … as Johnny works with Baby teaching her how to overcome the barriers of fear, timidity and lack of self-confidence through the art of “dirty” dancing, he and she, through an emotionally gripping series of events and circumstances, ultimately fall in love right in the face of challenge and opposition.

Webster’s dictionary defines the verb dance as “a series of movements that match the speed and rhythm of music”—a true but clinically sterile definition. Most know that the art of dance is so much more than a “series of movements.” It is a creative form of expressed movement that can intertwine the mind, body, soul and spirit into an inspiring and uplifting experience. No wonder shows like So You Think You Can Dance are watched by countless millions of viewers. Dancing, especially when it is well-skilled and creative, is powerfully impacting. Who could forget finesse and grace of the amazing Fred Astaire, the angelic moves of Ginger Rogers and the mind-blowing, seemingly impossible dance moves of Michael Jackson—all three awe-inspiring at “matching” speed and rhythm with movement. The truth is we often imagine ourselves slipping into their dancing shoes, as it were, and shaking off the fear and lack of self-confidence, like Baby in Dirty Dancing—courageously transformed by having broken through the barriers that hold us captive.

Dancing is great for the body’s health as well. Studies show that dancing improves the condition of the heart and lungs; increases muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness; improves muscle tone; helps to manage weight; and builds stronger bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

This month’s editorial theme is Natural Stress Relief, and dancing is a great, natural exercise for mind, body, soul and spirit. I encourage you to learn to dance to the “rhythm of life” a little more often. Like it was for Baby, learning to dance can be intimidating and challenging but very rewarding in so many ways. She found love and discovered her true inner self through the process. Life and living is not about being the best dancer but the best me … and you! I want to be able to enthusiastically say, as the lyrics in Dirty Dancing’s best-selling theme song state so well, “I had the time of my life.”

I hope you dance …

Annette Briggs

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