In many Western cultures, the idea of the 7 Deadly Sins is a common way we frame undesirable attributes. They capture habits that are easy to fall into – but may create havoc in our personal or professional lives.
In dance, we have our own ‘Sins’ that can sabotage our dance experience. Some of them are primarily interpersonal problems; they affect our relationships and reputation. Others are primarily personal; they affect our own internal experience – and can even cause us to leave dance forever.
The dance sin of Lust is using social dancing solely as a mechanism to make sexual gestures. You’ve committed the sin of Lust if you suffer from wandering hands, or if you hold your partner hostage to your sexually-charged moves.
You’ve also committed the sin of Lust if you’ve used dance as a way to pressure or trap someone into a sexual or semi-sexual situation, despite their unwillingness or reluctance to be there.
The sin of Lust is very different from starting a relationship with another dancer, or even a consensual hookup. Lust is when you exploit your dance abilities or partners in order to obtain sexual gratification or power – without the other person’s consent.
The sin of Sloth is not being present with your dance partner. These are the dancers who couldn’t be bothered to put in the energy or effort with new or ‘undesirable’ partners. They may look past their partner, refuse to smile, or default into ‘autopilot’ mode while dancing.
There are many legitimate reasons that people end up embodying Sloth. For example, tiredness or a lack of connection to the music. But, the real price of Sloth is interpersonal.
Being a Sloth can cause a dancer to be viewed as rude by fellow dancers, even if it wasn’t an ‘intentional’ slight. Instead, those prone to Sloth would be better off waiting until they have the energy or motivation to give a good dance, rather than accept every dance out of obligation.
The sin of Gluttony is dancing too much. Yes, this is actually a thing.
There are some dancers who take every workshop, go to every dance, and spend all their other time doing dance-related activities. Very frequently, these dancers burn hot for a year or two – and then burn out, never to be seen again. The pace and volume is simply too much.
View it like a chocolate shop. Everything is delicious – and one chocolate every day means you want more. But, if you eat a whole box of chocolates every single day, eventually you’ll end up hating the thing you’re supposed to love and look forward to.
There are some exceptions to the general pattern of Gluttony – but they are rare. Frequently, the exceptions go on to become teachers, DJ’s, or other fixtures in the scene.
If you do intend to dance a lot as a hobby, make sure that you keep each experience fresh. If you feel yourself burning out, take the time to recover – before the spark is completely gone. Take care of your mind, body, and life.
The sin of Envy is jealousy towards other dancers. It can be anything from trash-talking another dancer, to berating yourself for not ‘measuring up’. While on first glance it appears to be an internal problem, it can have a severe impact on your interpersonal relationships as well.
For example, some dancers get jealous of a person who gets more dances or attention. Very often, that person is then seen as an ‘asshole’ or a ‘bitch’ as a way to validate the other person’s feelings of envy. While the actual cause of the envy is a perceived ‘benefit’ the other dancer gets, it manifests as a negative attitude and preemptive judgement.
This can also happen when someone is rejected by a partner viewed as desirable. If that partner then goes on to accept other dances, the jealousy of not being ‘chosen’ as a partner (which can feel ‘unfair’) leads to similar resentment.
Jealousy is a natural feeling – and it strikes everyone at some point. But, you can manage it by understanding why those feelings emerge. Then, refocus those feelings into something constructive – like self-improvement, or refocusing on other things you feel good about.
The sin of Wrath is best seen in workshops, but can happen on the social floor as well. It is when a partner gets frustrated or angry to the point where it impacts their interpersonal relationships. For example, getting frustrated and pulling harder on a follow to ‘make’ them do a move is a form of wrath.
Keep in mind that wrath is not always directed at someone else. Sometimes, people get very angry at themselves for what they feel are defects or problems with their dancing (or personality). Self-directed wrath may feel less ‘intrusive’ to the sufferer, but it usually still spills over to their partner.
If you feel the frustration mounting, take a moment to reset and recalibrate. Or, change the movement or activity to cut the frustration. In classes, you can also tell your partner how you’re feeling if it’s self-directed.
The sin of Pride occurs when dancers think they’ve reached the ‘top’. It is very often accompanied by anger if that mastery is challenged in some way. Very often, we refer to this as an egotistical dancer.
If you feel like you’ve ‘learned it all’, you’re likely suffering from Pride. Please, take off the armor and enjoy being a student. Be open to what you still have to learn. I promise it won’t make you look like an idiot. In fact, the people who leave the best impressions are usually the ones who are willing to admit that they don’t know everything!
Another type of pride is the one who feels like they’re ‘above’ other dancers. They may make beginners feel like crap, or treat mere ‘social dancers’ as undesirable clutter. But, the message is the same: I’m better than you. Even if it’s not explicitly stated, the body language and attitude can speak volumes.
If you know you’re prone to this, take a step back and evaluate the situation. What do you have to lose by treating the beginners well? What do you have to lose by learning something new?
In dance, the sin of Greed is when we feel entitled to things, but give nothing. It’s when we expect good dances with the professionals, but don’t want to spend time nurturing the less-experienced dancers. It’s when we expect free or heavily-discounted services for no reason. It’s when we expect those in our communities to fulfill us without ever giving something back in return.
These people are not the ones who volunteer or give back. These people simply take. They want a discount to events – but don’t want to volunteer. They want dances with all the greatest dancers – but don’t want to spend time nurturing the newbies they could help inspire.
These people can severely impact their entire dance community. For example, if a local dance is barely able to make rent, a few of these dancers sneaking past an unattended table can force the event to close. And, when it comes to classes and events, the people who tirelessly ask for free stuff but refuse to volunteer or promote can make artists and organizers feel unvalued.
If you want to have a great community, be prepared to give back. Be prepared to nurture other dancers. Be prepared to either pay for the services you love, or volunteer to support them in other ways. But, try not to only take from the community you love.