I have always been a nerd and have always been extremely proud of it. I was the kid with the high top fade, z-lightning bolt side part that brought most of his textbooks home even though there was a spacious locker provided to every student. However, you can’t connect with others through books. Hence why I have a long existing relationship with dance and the way it makes me feel.

The first dance style I mastered, that is native to Jamaica, is dancehall. Jamaicans dance at all major life events. That includes weddings, birthday parties, community celebrations, and even funerals. The dance style is more about socialization, self-expression, and good vibes.

When I came to the states in 1994 the culture shock made me even more invested in academics, and I abandoned anything dance related for a while until my Junior year of High School. I did not start really connecting with people until I made that courageous decision to dance with a few dancers in the library after lunch. It was an unplanned dancehall performance, and everyone knew me as the nerd that brought his books home. But when I started dancing, it completely changed their perception of me. They were more open to have a normal conversation with me about high school life rather than what the homework assignment was in history class. It created a common ground to communicate and we discovered more about each other on a different level.

One essential component of being a dancer is learning that no one really connects to your movement until you put every ounce of who you are into it. Learning the art of just being myself unapologetically, and learning how to genuinely infuse those things into my movement makes others gravitate towards you in efforts to do the same. I never knew that moment in the library would lead to me teaching dance today. It was a momentary decision just to be myself, do what came natural, and I am grateful I did it.

Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of connecting through dance was the late and great ‘King of Pop,’ Michael Jackson. He started at a very young age with his brothers as a part of the Jackson 5, but it was not until he ventured out on his own that he realized how powerful dance is as a social and communication tool.  As a growing artist, he became obsessed with all cultures and studied countless dance styles that he incorporated in his own natural movement. He dedicated hours and years learning about a universal language that helped him propel his career as an artist that sells out arenas around the world. Why?  Because he mastered the ability to move in a language that the world connects to.

I am not saying that Hip Hop or Dancehall is the only way to connect but it is a great option among many. In fact, there are other studios that provide opportunities for adults to learn Hip Hop, break dance, ballroom, and other traditional genres. Such studios include: Verve Dance Studio, MODdance Studio, DaniFit Studio, Free Soul Dance, and Nickel City Dance Studio and Fitness Center. Also if you’re looking for the different dance options Buffalo has to offer, a great resource to check out is the Dance Days of Buffalo Calendar. It is filled with local dance classes, workshops, performances, and more. You can find this calendar at http://www.dancedaysofbuffalo.com/communitycalendar. Whether your goals involve fitness, becoming a better dancer, or connecting with more people, there are plenty of opportunities around that will fit your specific goals.

We at Musicality Central believe that art is a living breathing thing. When you add arms, legs, and a body of emotions immersed in music, then it becomes something beautiful. That creation surpasses all language barriers. Therefore, whether you are a nerd or the coolest person on the block, dance allows you to find a common ground where you can connect without ever saying a word. I am sure you can find that in a book somewhere but you won’t experience what it is like till you actually do it yourself.

– Rishone Todd


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