Kimerer L LaMothe Ph.D.

What a Body Knows

Why I Dance

Reasons Why We Dance Do Not Explain Why I Dance

Posted Oct 28, 2016

Why do I dance?

You’d think I’d have answered the question by now. I mean, I’ve written a book called Why We Dance. You’d think that “we” includes me.

It does and it doesn’t.

The we includes me in so far as I consider my self a human being, a member of a species. The we in Why We Dance represents the human race.

Yes, I know. It is dangerous to assume a universal human – to ignore gender, class, ethnicity, and race. No such thing exists. I agree. 

At the same time, even terms meant to identify differences assume some “human” for which they are modifications. Gender only means something in relation to me if it also means something in relation to you – whatever your gender may be. If we don’t talk about this presumed “human,” then our discussions about how different we all are default to a modern western mind-over-body, I-before-we individual for whom dance does not make sense.

Also, if you have taken a peek at the book, you will know that my definition of “human” is dynamic and open-ended. A human is a bodily self whose movement makes it what it is. A human is a creature who participates in a rhythm of bodily becoming, consciously and not, creating and becoming the patterns of movement that make her who she is -- including patterns that constitute gender, class, race, and many other differences.

As I explain, drawing upon recent research from across disciplines, humans dance in order to: build brains, cultivate empathy, gather knowledge, heal themselves and their communities, evolve, and foster life-enabling relationships with their natural and social environments. The biology, the psychology, the religion, and the history to prove it are all there. 

In this view, every human is who he is as a unique complex and crossing of relational movement patterns. Including me. Which means that what I can say about why we dance doesn’t say everything about why I dance.

Further, all of the reasons I give about why we dance are afterthoughts. They are not reasons to dance. If a person needs a reason to dance, she will never start: she will remain stuck in the mind-over-body, I-before-we mindset.

However, if a person already has the tiniest sense of dancing, then that person definitely needs reasons why we dance in order to continue, because life in modern capitalist societies does not exactly encourage or value it.

So, even though reasons why we dance can’t make me (or you) dance, reasons why I dance may inspire you to find your own.

Here goes.

I dance because waves crash on the sand.
Because leaves crackle under my feet.
Because spring smells sweet.
Because birds fly in formation.
Because our cows watch.

I dance because there is a space shaped like a triangle in my kitchen.
Because I sit for so long each day.
Because I’m hungry for it.
Because one day a voice told me I must.
Because there is always too much to do.

I dance because a breeze taps my cheek.
Because music is playing.
Because sunshine streams into the living room.
Because the horses need time to eat their grain.
Because people around me are moving. Or not.

I dance because despair and delight charge through me. 
Because the world is falling apart. Or not.
Because people do wonderful, crazy, generous things.
Because I have no idea what comes next.

I dance because dance happens to me, and I let it.

I dance because love wins.

And you?

Kimerer L LaMothe, PhD is the author of Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming