Kiesza — this summer’s surprise breakout diva — started dancing ballet when she was 3.
She had to give up intensive ballet at 15, after a knee injury, but never forgot the way dance training made her feel. Looking for a new outlet, she got into sailing and joined the Canadian navy, then found a creative home in music. After trying her hand at acoustic guitar, death metal, and working as a behind-the-scenes writer of EDM pop, she rocketed to the top of the U.K. charts in April with “Hideaway,” a propulsive song indebted to the big-belters of 1990s dance that’s just a touch slower than today’s club hits, and all the better to really move to.
During a July trip to New York, Kiesza opened up about why she chooses to dance every day, even though she’s not a professional.
1. Dancing may enhance your concentration and memory.
“Dancing every day, your body and your mind are happier. You’re more focused, I find. My memory is a lot better.”
2. It can help you understand how your body actually works.
“The structure of ballet really allows you to get in touch with your whole body. You develop a whole-body coordination where you’re really in control of everything. You have a good sense of every part of your body and the way it moves.”
3. And get to know yourself better.
“Dance really puts you in touch with yourself. As much as you’re expressing yourself externally it’s very introspective and internal as well. It connects your mind to your body. It connects your soul to your body.”
4. You’ll also sleep better, as a result of being in great shape and less stressed.
“It definitely makes you sleep better. It makes you happier, just in general, to be physically in shape. Physically, you’re able to do so much more.”
5. A regular dance practice will challenge you to push through physical pain…
“When you dance, there’s that good burn. Your muscles are aching but you know that it’s for a good reason. It tells you that you worked hard. It’s that deep muscle burn that you just know, OK, I worked hard today.”
6. …help improve your work ethic…
“Ballet is a challenging dance form. It’s not easy at all. So every time you advance in it, it’s a really good feeling. It feels so good, ‘cause it wasn’t easy to get. So you have to really work hard to get it. I think that work ethic has tied into every aspect of my life.
7. … and give you courage to try new things.
“I always wanted to do street dance. I’d go out to dance nights and I’d do my own thing and watch people freestyling, but it was so different than my ballet. It was opposite of what I was used to doing and I thought, ‘There’s no way you can do this.’ It took me awhile to give it a try, but I wanted to. When I wrote ‘Hideaway’ it lent itself perfectly to that kind of dance. I didn’t know the song was gonna do well, I was just doing what I loved and trying something new. Taking a bet on myself.”
8. Dance helps you meet people…
“When I start doing a little dance, wherever I am, it makes people approach me and smile. It’s an icebreaker. I meet a lot of people.”
9. …and brings the people you know closer together.
“My passion for dancing is a personal thing, but it’s also a way to bring out friends and bring friends together. I love going out to dance at a club. It’s a social thing.”
10. You might even fall in love.
“It hasn’t happened for me dancing yet, but a lot of people meet somebody dancing. You can dance to fall in love.”
11. Dancing creates a space for you to move in a way only you can, whether it’s awkward or graceful.
“I have a very strange way of moving, my own form of movement. I have very long arms and I’m double jointed. Maybe that’s why I move a little bit differently. Sometimes I’ll throw an arm out in a different way, or start getting creative within choreography. There’s just something quirky about me, there always has been. Except in ballet. I was very like, graceful in ballet.”
12. Ultimately, dancing can help you feel more disciplined, confident, and complete.
“I was very different than a lot of my peer group. A little bit of the geeky kid in school. But I never dealt with insecurity growing up, and I think it was because I had such a focus on something I loved. Dancing gave me a lot of discipline. And I looked forward every day after school to going to dance, to getting better. I never felt incomplete because I had that passion in my life.”
13. And best of all — the better dancing makes you feel, the more you’ll want to dance.
“You can identify passion. For me, dance was the first introduction to that passion. I felt it right away. And once you’ve felt it, you crave it. I literally dance down the street. I’ll be walking then I’ll break into little moves. When I hear a beat, it’s in my body. It’s a feeling that I can’t really describe. I just don’t wanna stop.”