How to get up and dance, by one girl who just needs a beat, and one who takes a few rum and cokes to get moving.
This Girl Can
By Kenya Hunt
I’m not going to lie. I can dance. I can tour jeté to Debussy (I began my classical ballet training at the age of three), twerk to Fela Kuti, drop it like it’s hot to Kanye, vogue to Disclosure, dutty wine to Rihanna, and whip and nae nae (Google it). Yes, when I’m in the mood, I have been known to turn it out. For me, it’s always been less about burning calories or body sculpting – though that’s a major plus too. No, I love the pure emotional and mental high. Whether I’m at a barre or in a club, dancing simply feels good.
When I was a university student, juggling a magazine internship with dance classes and auditions, I’d tie my hair up in a bun, slip on my unitard and transform into a different persona depending on what the choreography demanded. I could be wild, haughty and reckless – qualities a relatively reserved person like me would rarely explore otherwise. And when I interviewed a newly solo Beyoncé a few years later and she told me about her kickass, on-stage alter-ego Sasha Fierce (the first time she’d ever publicly talked about her), I understood where she was coming from. My experiences of dancing taught me a unique kind of confidence and self-assuredness that can’t come from any office – when you can do a pirouette and a death drop in heels, you really do feel like you can take on the world.
This past spring, I began my dance training again, after having lost track of it during my first years of parenthood. In service of our Editor-in-Chief and #ELLEFit, I took a Lester Horton-technique class to reacquaint myself with my own Sasha Fierce, a person I’ll call K-Boogie. And it was hard. I couldn’t hold my leg ear-high (or even shoulder-high!) the way I have in the past. My turns weren’t as sharp. My jumps weren’t as precise. I got winded. But I was ridiculously happy – giddy, even. I felt empowered. And having to learn intricate floor combinations I haven’t tried in years was better than any Brain Training app I could ever download. That’s because dancing improves cerebral and cognitive thought functions. I was hooked.
Now, I’m back to shaking my money-maker right in time for the party season. And, full disclosure: I never really ever stopped twerking. What can I say: some people sing in the shower, I dance to Beyoncé’s Blow in the living room. And I’m more smiley, with stronger abs and a clearer mind, because of it. So who’s down to do the whip with me? Sophie, you know you want to! See you on the dance floor.
This Girl Can't Be Bothered
By Sophie Beresiner
So it turns out there is a very specific bonus to winter months that counteracts all the extra eating and drinking we do. Well, I do, anyway. And that is dancing. This crazy flinging of body parts that accompanies sequined dresses and high spirits – both the emotional and alcoholic kind – is also an accidental workout.
At last, a workout I genuinely enjoy! Particularly if it happens between the hours of 10pm and 2am. And depending on the brand of dancing you subscribe to, it burns upwards of 450 calories an hour. (In case you’re interested: hip-hop burns the most, belly dancing the least. Now you know.) Oh, but hang on. I’m dancing on a night out. I’ve probably consumed at least a couple of drinks to get me on the dance floor in the first place, but let’s disregard those for a moment. Say I have two rum and Cokes in the hour I’m dancing, that’s about 400 calories to counterbalance the bonus ones I’m burning off. I need to take drinking out of this not-so-happy equation. Damn it.
So how about daytime? In my wildest fantasies, I can breakdance at a wedding, or even in front of a small crowd at Piccadilly Circus. In reality, I’m going to start with a Street Dance Class at Fitness First. I’ve honestly been meaning to do it since Ashley Banjo from dance troupe Diversity choreographed a full aerobic street class a couple of years ago. It’s only the agonising shame that is holding me back. Imagine the cringe factor of a 35-year-old woman body-popping on a blue mat at the back. Nope. I’m going to have to stick to YouTube tutorials and the Diversity DVD. OK, Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred – much less embarrassing if the husband walks in on me. Scrap that, actually: Davina’s 7 Minute Fit programme so I can fit it around dinner and work. The problem is that the TV is in front of the sofa, and the sofa is so much more inviting. Sod it, I’m going to go out and dance my sequined socks off. I can always have a rum and Diet Coke instead.
Photocredit: Victoria Adamson