body image · Dancing · fitness

Learning more about bodies from dancing animals and physical therapy

Every chance I get, I share the dance song “I like to move it” video from the animated movie Madagascar. There are several reasons for this:

  • it’s got a killer dance beat
  • it’s funny
  • the animals all dance in interesting and animated-body-appropriate ways, but also in very different ways, depending on their bodies.

Watching it recently (yes, I shared it in this post) I was struck by how watching the hippo dance (apologies, I forget her name) puts me at a crossroads. I can laugh… or I can enjoy and appreciate the exaggerated ways her animated self expresses joy in movement.

Gloria– that’s her name– the hippo in the movie Madagascar, doing her booty dance to the end credits.

And then there’s Melman the giraffe, who also dances, sometimes with Gloria:

Hippo Gloria and giraffe Melman dancing cheek to cheek.

Giraffes probably have the textbook exaggerated and ungainly body– both in life and in cartoons. But they run and bend and stretch and (at least in movies) dance. Their repertoire of movements are also fascinating.

Which brings me to physical therapy. On Wednesday I was doing my hip exercises for sciatica, looking around the room to see what everyone else was up to. What did I see?

  • an older person with lots of flexibility stretching her hamstring;
  • a teenager recovering from an ankle sprain, bouncing a ball while standing on one foot on a foam cushion;
  • a 40-something, new to PT, doing gentle shoulder range-of-motion in work clothes;
  • an older person, one month after knee replacement, getting flexibility checked;
  • and me, working hard, sweating, enjoying the effort of strengthening my 60-something body.

All of us were there with different bodies with their own structure, vulnerabilities and history. We were all there to improve our movement while healing. We didn’t all like to move-it-move-it, but we did (move it, that is). We were all using the bodies we came in with and getting help with strength and flexibility and stamina.

I’m almost through my round of PT, and I’m happy with the results. I’m just as happy to get this infusion of body acceptance. And of course, to be reminded of those fabulous dancing animals… 🙂

Readers, have you danced this week? If so, let me know. If not, how about putting on a track and moving your body, however it does that?

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