Why Do I Dance? A Collection of Answers


Being an intuitive individual, I often make decisions before there is a concrete explanation for them. This is not to say that my choices are ungrounded or second-guessed, just that my process of deciding is a bit backwards. 

Instead of gathering facts, figures and reasons prior to a choice, there have been many occasions when I make a big decision and the reasoning falls into place afterwards. Piece by piece, I create a mental collection of reassurance to hold close in moments of doubt. Not all of my choices have been made this way, but many large, life-altering ones seem to go in that direction. Most notably, my decision to become a choreographer. 

Why do I dance?

It is a question that I am not even sure I asked myself until my first answer was collected. 

I was a freshman in college, already taking choreography courses and leaning towards a dance major. However, it was my favorite poetry professor who unintentionally provided me with an answer to why dance was the artistic path I seemed to be following (if you listened to my co-hosted Woman Up podcast on creativity with Aida Azlin, you’ll know this story).

Each student had the opportunity of a one-on-one meeting with the professor to discuss our poetic progress. During our conversation, he talked about the strengths of my shorter poems, weaknesses in longer form, and eventually said “What is interesting, Ruby, is that all of your work is very sensual. It always comes back to the body.” I scanned my eyes over the leaves of words in front of me. 

Hands holding. Tip of the ear. Like marbles down my spine. Fingertips. 

Without full consciousness, every single one of my poems referenced the human body in some way. This was no coincidence. It was the first and most prominent collected answer to my ever-asking question.

Why Do I Dance? | Ruby Josephine

Why do I dance?

Another answer emerged in the form of a perfect quotation a couple years back when I was completely engrossed in Ken Wilber’s book, The Spectrum of Consciousness. It took me an entire year to get through it (very off and on reading during a busy period of life), but each time I picked it up, my mind would go through a series of detonating mini-bombs- “aha” moments. One of these burst when reading this particular statement on the problem of separating body and mind into two different entities: 

“In exiling our bodies we simultaneously exile all possibility of real joy and happiness.” 

I immediately triple-underlined this statement and wrote it down in my tiny notebook, added to my growing collection of reasoning.

Why do I dance?

My most recent collection was just several weeks ago when I was listening to an old episode of the Well/Aware podcast, interviewing yoga teacher Alex Sharry. She discussed how if you are not happy with your mental state- if you feel frustrated angry, sad, or just generally off- make a change. Since we are not usually very adept at manipulating our own emotions, instead we can manipulate our physicality. Go upside down, twist your back, jog in place until you break a sweat. If you change your physical condition, your mental condition will follow. These notes were typed frantically into my phone on my daily walk to work. Another answer found. 

Why do I dance?

To play with and explore the manipulation of emotions through physical movement.

Because everything I do always leads me back to the possibilities of the human body in motion. 

Because dance is a way to bring the body back from self-inflicted exile. 

It brings me real joy and happiness.

These are just several of the collected answers I keep close to me as constant reminders.

From time to time, it is easy to forget why we do what we do as artists. We get distracted, whether it is by business, money, critics, status, gossip, anything that life throws carelessly our way. These things pull us away from our paths that we follow by sheer creative intuition, and yet we always have the capability of bringing ourselves back. 

Remember why you decided to create in the first place. Or, if you are like me, sift through the collected moments of realization that the instinctive decision you made all those years ago was, in fact, the right one. 

Write these reasons down down. Keep them close. 

Why do you create?