Dance Advice

Paying tribute to my first love: Dance

VDF 2017 Photo by Belinda Strodder
A happy young dancer at VDF 2017. Photo by Belinda Strodder.

With Valentine’s Day behind us, many of my clients continue to voice sadness or even disdain around this time of year with regard to their relationship status. While I encourage them, as well as anyone reading this, to work on the most important relationship – the one you are in with yourself – I propose, pun intended, that we pay homage to the relationship we have with dance, what may be, for many of us, our first love. 

Many of us eat, breathe and sleep dance, and we can lose sight of the beauty and passion that drew us to the art form in the first place. Do you remember the first time you knew you had to dance? Perhaps it was in the grocery store or in your grandmother’s living room. Do you remember the first time you watched dance or saw a live performance? I still leave the theater wanting to dance down the aisle. Maybe you remember your first recital or costume. We each have our own love stories, full of joys, frustrations, disappointments and triumphs. 

From personal experience, I can say that dance and I have had our trials and tribulations. My relationship with dance has left me feeling neglected, insecure and defeated. It has also given me immense joy, pride and gratitude. Through it all, dance has always been something I can rely on – an escape, a coping mechanism, an authentic form of self-expression. Furthermore, my relationship to dance/movement therapy has had its up and downs. Being a dance/movement therapist has been rewarding and validating, but becoming a dance/movement therapist was challenging to say the least. Becoming who you were meant to be is never easy, but it was the best decision I ever made for my professional career. 

This month’s article is dedicated to our love affair with dance and the many ways movement and dance inform our personal, not just professional, lives. Here are my 10 favorite inspirational quotes (with my take-a-ways) that make me fall in love with dance all over again.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” -Vivian Greene (Dance can teach us patience, understanding, and appreciation.)

“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.” -George Carlin (Dance for yourself.)

“I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what it too deep to find for words.” -Ruth St. Denis (Dance can help us express and emote.)

When a body moves, it’s the most revealing thing. Dance for me a minute, and I’ll tell you who you are.” -Mikhail Baryshnikov (Dance is a true form of expression.)

“There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.” -Vicki Baum (Dance to feel joy.)

“The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.” -Agnes de Mille (Dance is a primitive inherent form of communication.)

“Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.” -Alvin Ailey (Dance is in all of us.)

“Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it.” -Martha Graham (Movement reveals our state.)

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” -Martha Graham (We are always talking, just not through words.)

Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” -Samuel Beckett (When in doubt, dance!) 

I urge you to reflect on your own love story with dance. Allow yourself to reminisce on the good and the bad because both have gotten you to this point in your dance journey. Perhaps you are a professional dancer, an educator, a mindful mover; whatever your connection is to dance, celebrate it! Know there is no “right” path or perfect relationship. You will fight and disagree from time to time. There will be miscommunications and compromise, but there will also be support and comfort. I wish you all lifetimes of love and know that you and dance will be very happy together. 

By Erica Hornthal, LCPC, BC-DMT, Dance/Movement Therapist, Chicago Dance Therapy.

Erica Hornthal is a licensed professional clinical counselor and board certified dance/movement therapist based in Chicago, IL. She received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago and her BS in Psychology from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Erica is the founder and CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy, the premier dance therapy and counseling practice in Chicago, IL. As a body-centered psychotherapist, Erica assists clients of all ages and abilities in harnessing the power of the mind-body connection to create greater awareness and understanding of emotional and mental health. For more, visit

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