That’s Alien Ramirez dancing there. She’s a world salsa dance champion from Cuba. If you click on the picture, you can see her in action (at a different venue). She’s amazing!

Dancing (especially salsa dancing) has been a big part of my life for the past few years. I discovered it right out of college and haven’t been able to quit dancing since then. I love it!

When a man and woman are dancing, to me, it seems like a perfect harmony of the sexes. Both the leader and follower have unique responsibilities to pull off the dance. Boundaries are clearly defined, and each dancer has a responsibility to work within those boundaries, but at the same time, be creative within those boundaries. Finding yourself in the middle of a dance in this sort of perfect understanding and communication with your dance partner is a really miraculous and wonderful thing – both to participate in and to behold!

I am a person who works really well within well-defined boundaries. I am always my most creative when I have certain limitations placed on me. Perhaps that is one of many reasons I love to dance. I know the limits of my world on the dance floor – and I own those limits! (it helps to know the role is equally valued and necessary for the success of the dance, as well).

This may be why children, also, respond especially well to dance instruction. Boundaries are clearly defined. Expectations are clear. Note Mad Hot Ballroom for example – a documentary that follows the introduction of ballroom instruction in NYC elementary schools.

My love for dance has me wondering about its applications within the world. I do not like the idea of having strictly defined gender roles (especially those imposed by others), and yet I am having trouble drawing limitations around myself. While we could view roles as being strictly individual, I am an individual who is a woman. I still haven’t figured out how reconcile these two.

Which is probably why I will keep on dancing. What I cannot achieve in my personal life, I can achieve momentarily on the dance floor. There, I can own my individuality and my femininity at once in a role that is necessary and valuable. The dance simply could not happen if I refused to take on both identities – as a creative individual and female partner.

What do you think about gender roles? Are they outdated and senseless or helpful to a degree? Should we rely in any way on precedents or is it up to the individual to define or decide what responsibilities/obligations (if any) are related to his/her gender?

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