How to dance like a white person

What To Do When Someone Says You Dance like a “White Girl” | by Andrea Wakim

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

Someone actually said this to me:

“I had to come help because you’re dancing like a white girl, and it’s embarrassing.”

Spoiler: I told him to f*ck off. Here’s how it happened.

The Exposition

My friend Lisa was in town to perform at an art show. It was a charity event that highlighted local artists and musicians, so I went to support her. As I started talking to people, I realized that everyone was a singer, producer, or something else cool.

They were the kind that assumed you did something cool too, since they only interact with cool people, who do cool things — yes, it was necessary to use cool three times in that sentence.

When someone asked me what I did creatively, I would say something like:

“Ughhhh, you know, I dabble in this and that.”

I used to sing at church, so I wildly exaggerated that experience:

“I sing. Sometimes. At …events.”

Thankfully, I wasn’t on social media at the time so no one could fact check.

Around 2AM, Lisa told me she was ready to go, and was headed backstage to get her stuff. I wasn’t allowed back with her, so I said I’d wait on the dance floor. The DJ was still mixing early 2000 hits with Drake songs, and I’d never waste a Drake song.

This is when everything went wrong.

Rising Action

I’ll admit it. I wasn’t dancing my best.

I was tired. It was 2AM. I’d been on my own all night, and even for an extrovert like me, that’s too long.

All of a sudden, this jean jacket, fedora wearing guy appeared. He started trying to dance with me, and I told him no very politely. I was happy dancing on my own.

But he persisted.

He started showing me dance moves, and encouraged me to copy him.

Again, I told him really nicely that I wasn’t interested.

He asked me to follow his footwork one more time, and then eventually said:

“Listen, I’ve been watching you, and I couldn’t let you keep going. .. I had to come help because you’re dancing like a white girl, and it’s embarrassing.”


“Uhhhhh…I’m not really sure what to say. I appreciate that, but I’m fine.”

Aka go away.

He wouldn’t give up. He was adamant that he was just being a good samaritan:

“I’m a dance teacher, and it KILLS me to see women dancing like white girls. You’re just so bad — I want to help you get better.”

Again… what? Who says that to someone?

At this point, I was transitioning into rage mode, but still trying to be nice.

“Look, you keep saying that I dance like a “white girl”, and I’m assuming you mean that in a bad way?”

He nodded, relieved I understood he was insulting me, and then started his lesson again.

I stopped him.

“Listen buddy, regardless of your intentions, you’ve offended me beyond repair — I’m asking you VERY nicely to leave me alone.”


He wasn’t going anywhere. He decided to try a new angle.

“Look, I’m only doing this because I really want you to get a boyfriend.”


“Excuse me? What makes you think I don’t have a boyfriend?”

He laughed.

“Because your dance moves are SO bad — no one would EVER date you.”

Yes. He said that. Omg, omg, omg.

I was pissed.

I don’t understand how these things correlated in his mind, but here’s the most annoying part about this encounter — I don’t think I’m a bad dancer.

Actually, I think I’m pretty good.

I never played organized sports growing up — they made my skin itch — so instead, I danced. I took jazz, tap, ballet, pointe, and hip-hop for over 10 years.

I even made this video where I taught my friends how to dance:

Ok, I feel like that wasn’t the best example since the underlying joke is that I’m a bad dancer. This video was better, but still not great…Nevermind. Forget about it.

The point is, this jerk was intentionally trying to make me feel insecure. Or maybe he was just being mean because I rejected him —either way, I don’t care.

The Climax

I was done.

“This conversation is over. I don’t need your relationship advice. I definitely don’t need your dance instructions. What I DO need is for you to F*CK OFF or I’m calling security.”

I stand by what I said.

I’m not a violent person, but I could have ripped that fedora off his head and burned it with the sheer rage radiating from my eyeballs.

I don’t know why that fedora pissed me off so much — I love when Bruno Mars wears them:

This guy was no Bruno Mars.

After I snapped, he started to walk away, but turned back at the last second to whisper:

“Don’t come back here again unless you learn how to dance.”


Before I had a chance to respond, he was gone.

Where do you go from there? I danced a little longer — stopping would have felt like letting him win— but eventually, I decided to go to the bathroom.

Falling Action

Between us, this guy really hurt my feelings. I’ve never had a stranger approach me and be so mean.

What a bully. Ugh.

As I opened the bathroom door, I felt a single tear slip from my left eye.

There was a group of girls in there, so I quickly wiped it away, sat down in the corner, and tried to call a friend. No answer. Duh. It was 2AM.

I needed to rant about this to someone, so I looked up at the girls, and heard myself say, “I’m sorry but can I tell you the WORST thing that just happened to me?”

They looked over, and a second later, were hugging me and asking me to tell them everything. As I shared my story, they started getting really fired up. They were furious, and asked if I could point him out to them.


I marched out of the bathroom, armed with my girl pack, ready to crush this guy. I searched everywhere.

They waited as I tried to find him. I checked the dance floor. I checked the bar. I did a lap around the entire place — twice.

But he was gone.

I returned to the girl pack, empty handed, and told them the news. They were sad, and encouraged me to look one more time. I did a final lap, but he was definitely gone. The girl pack was devastated.

I wasn’t.

The Resolution

I didn’t actually want them to destroy that guy.

I didn’t even care about confronting him. All I wanted was to tell someone what happened, and have them validate my feelings.

Isn’t that what we really want when we’re hurt? For someone to understand and agree with how we feel? Sure, we also want revenge, but for the most part, we want to be heard more. We want to share something horrible that happened, and have someone say, “Wow, that’s horrible!”

I wanted this to be a funny story.

That was my intention when I sat down to write, but the more I process what happened, the more frustrated I feel.

There were lots of girls on that dance floor — why did he choose to pick on me? When I said no, why didn’t he go away? When I said no again, why didn’t he go away? Why did he only leave after I threatened to call security — once I suggested bringing another man into the situation?

Why was my no not enough?

I’m not trying to hate on men here. I know amazing men who never do something like this, but gender was definitely involved.

I would bet my whole RRSP fund — yeah that’s right, I have one of those — that he would never have said that to a random guy. He would not have gone up to a man on that dance floor and said:

“Hey bro, you’re dancing like a basic white guy — please let me teach you some moves? I just want you to a get a girlfriend. No girl will ever date you if you keep dancing like that. Oh, you don’t want my help? Ok, well then don’t you dare show your face here again til’ you’ve learned.”

No. This wouldn’t happen.

But for some reason, he thought he had the right to say this to me. Ugh.

Overall, I ended up being a tiny bit grateful to this guy, because I ended up becoming friends with the girl pack. It turns out they’re Lebanese too! They’re part of a Lebanese young adults group, and have already helped me get involved and connected. I’ve been looking for a group like this since I moved to Toronto, so I’m really excited.

I don’t know if everything happens for a reason, but in the end, this sure felt like one of those times.

dancing like a white guy



For You



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You’re Welcome 🤣 #dance #worksforanysong #daddance #moves #dancer #tutorial #fyp #fypシ #foryou #foryoupage

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He killed it 🥰 #daddydaughter #party #dance

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People are actually using my sound what - Shmacker_


Princess Matshoba

Nobody entertains my craziness like you. he bathong i can't even dance 🤣😂🤣😂 but we tried.. its the dress for me🤣😂🤣 #buddy #dancinglikeawhiteguy . @Nourishbella2tt

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Hamba Wena - Deep London & Boohle - House of H&H


Tina Beena

We tried I promise we tried lmao 🤣🤣😂😂😂

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Why will we never dance bachata like the Dominicans?

Dominicans dance bachata differently: light, uncomplicated, plastic. Their attitude to dance is simple - first of all, it is a communication tool, and never an end in itself. Almost none of them learned to dance on purpose, in the Dominican Republic there are no bachata schools for locals, but everyone fervently moves their hips from birth.

On the island, only a few will be able to explain the basics of plastic surgery or how to do the steps. And even then, they are mostly professional choreographers who dance other dances besides bachata. But the naturalness and smoothness of the movements of most ordinary Dominicans is fascinating.

Our bachata is the result of training and labor

Europeans who dance bachata outside the Dominican Republic know what is right in music, what can and cannot be done, where are the boundaries of style and are aware of the intricacies of figure building. For a long time they learned the right flow, the right swing, the right plastique. Therefore, their bachata is more choreographic, more systematic and calculated, they take the dance seriously. Some are so serious that they start non-children's international holivars, distribute those who dance correctly and who do not into different camps.

For Dominicans, dancing is just one aspect of communication

Dominicans don't care how they dance. They are fascinated by the choreography of a moderna bachata dancer visiting the Dominican Republic and touched when a white man tries to dance authentically. He tries - because in order to really dance like the Dominicans, you must first of all treat the dance in the same way, without piety, without cultivating a single correct style, forgetting that music can be counted. And above all, local dancers never make dance the main occasion of any event, be it a festival, a party or a meeting with friends.

Dance is only an addition to communication, a means for intimacy, for harmonizing and synchronizing the surrounding reality - music, a loved one, a buzz from movement. Therefore, when you go to an average Dominican party, you will see a lot of noisy drinking people, and dancers dancing just one figure during the whole evening. One Carl!

Video from the personal archive of Dasha Elizarova, project Bachateame Mamita

All the rules, consistency, figure building, disputes about how to dance a real bachata, authentic festivals were either created by non-minicans or appeared outside the island.

Dominicans are mainly engaged in each other, and dancing is a great prelude for this.

Video from the personal archive of Dasha Elizarova, project Bachateame Mamita

Women's style in bachata

We turn dance into a big event with rules

It's hard for us to give up the idea that dance should be varied, interesting, spectacular. From the idea that it is important to dance to a certain score, to break music into eights.

It is difficult to question the words of a beloved teacher who says that if you dance differently, you will betray the style. It is difficult to let go of yourself and your body, to go beyond the learned figures, it is difficult to improvise, it is difficult to find yourself in the dance.

But we dance the way we dance, because, unlike the Dominicans, we all learned this. We studied at dance schools, where they explained to us how to do it and how not to. And where very little attention is paid to the most important thing, to what the majority came to dance for - the pleasure of dancing, improvisation, attention to the person with whom you are dancing. To a person, girl or man, and not a partner or partner, from whom you expect the correct conduct or execution of figures.

As a result, at parties, outside of dancing, we see bored figures buried in phones, waiting girls sadly sitting on the edges of the dance floor, and only occasionally - cheerful broken companies from those schools where communication is as important as dance.

We will never really dance bachata like the Dominicans. We came to dance for completely different reasons, we treat it in a completely different way, and it's too difficult to change it. Yes, and no need to change.

It is important to follow your line of dance development

We have a lot to learn from the Dominicans: ease of attitude to dance and the surrounding reality, the ability to find your own unique style within two or three basic steps. But, unlike them, the majority of dance school visitors are looking for, in addition to new communication, something completely different - an interesting hobby, an opportunity for self-realization, discovering new possibilities for their body and mind, a variety of figures and footwork, new approaches and interesting theories.

And in the Dominican Republic itself, there are dancers who are distinguished by the richness of their steps, their elegantly controlled style, a wide range of figures, and the clarity of lines and movements. Or too bright, too prominent character of the dance. But they usually say about such people that they dance inauthenticly, not the way they should.

Video from the personal archive of Dasha Elizarova, project Bachateame Mamita

We will never really dance bachata like the Dominicans. We came to dance for completely different reasons, we treat it in a completely different way, and it's too difficult to change it. Yes, and no need to change.

It is important to understand that with all possible trajectories of learning and immersion in culture, the most incorrect is the literal and blind copying of the external feed. Either find yourself, your style and your pleasure, as the Dominicans do, or develop yourself as a dancer without looking back at the external match with any original.

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“A white man can dance jazz” / Articles / Newslab.


Valery Borisovich Tereshkin - artistic director of the dance group "Free Ballet", choreographer of the Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic.

Born on May 2, 1952 in the village. Khovu-Aksy (Tuva).

In 1972 he graduated from the Faculty of Physical Education of the Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical Institute. Has a musical education. He worked as a trainer in sports aerobics, senior lecturer in the gymnastics department of the Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical University, choreographer of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Philharmonic. Master of sports of international class, two-time champion of Russia, member of the USSR national team in sports acrobatics. Excellent student of public education. Laureate of international choreographer competitions: 1997 - Germany; 1998, 1999 - USA. Member of the Maine State Choreography Educators Association (USA).

Married with two children.

Hobbies: jazz music, playing musical instruments.

Valeriy Borisovich How did your career start?

- To begin with, I am an athlete, and after graduating from the Pedagogical Institute in 1973, I did sports acrobatics, paired sports acrobatics - it's like figure skating, only without ice, i. e. - also a partner, the same throws, the same lifts, and all this to the music. I achieved good success - I was a master of sports of international class, I was a two-time champion of Russia at 1978 and 1979. But then the tragedy - injury, I tore the Achilles tendon on my right leg. After some time, I returned to sports - and again I tore the tendon in the same place, which means that it became impossible for me to continue playing sports. I was already 30 years old, and after this injury, I began to work at my native pedagogical institute at the Faculty of Physical Education, as a gymnastics teacher. And here for the first time he created a sports dance ensemble, which was called "Studio 7". At first, the ensemble consisted only of athletes, then professional dancers joined the troupe. The group became more and more popular. And it was already such a synthesis - sports and professional dances. By the way, there were both girls and guys from sports - mainly representatives of figure skating, acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics - that is, those sports that had a connection with choreography. Gradually, by the ninetieth year, all this grew into such a free ballet. Why Free Ballet? Because, on the one hand, the invisible core of our repertoire is jazz dance. And jazz dance is a free dance, a dance in which there are elements of improvisation. On the other hand, free ballet is a ballet that does not have any specific framework, it is sports compositions, it is jazz dance, it is modern and many, many other genres, it is pantomime. By the way, we paid a lot of attention to pantomime.

Are you dancing yourself now?

- I myself occasionally take on some minor roles, perhaps for support. I appear in the program two or three times - these are insignificant parties.

Valery Borisovich, do you conduct all the rehearsals yourself?

- Absolutely everything - by myself. What is interesting for our troupe, we do not have, as usual, a choreographer-choreographer, a choreographer-tutor. Once our famous choreographer Vitaly Beloborodov, choreographer of musical comedy, told me: “You, my friend, cannot have tutors, because your choreography is completely uncharacteristic, different from others. ” And indeed, it is so, he hit the bull's-eye - I can't have tutors. Many tried to be tutors, came to work, but somehow did not cope with their task. The fact is that in Russia there is no jazz dance as such, you need to feel it, you need to know it. In jazz choreography, there are as many choreographers as there are so many trends; Jazz, both as a choreographer and as a performer, is made up of individuals. There is no such thing that everything is the same, the ensemble consists of completely different people, different personalities, one does not look like the other even in terms of anthropometry - one can be two meters tall, the other one and a half meters. And the task of the choreographer is to make some kind of harmony out of this, to make harmony out of disharmony .... This is jazz music, as it is also called “non-square music” on the sidelines. In general, jazz music and jazz dance is afraid of "squareness", afraid of predictability. A certain syncopation is needed - this is an exit from the rhythm - and then an unexpected entrance. I have to invent such a technique that you, as a spectator, watch, expect one thing, and something completely different comes out of it. When we show our programs here, on the stage of the Great Concert Hall, they are accepted, and very well received, but only by a specific audience.

You tour a lot, and which of the tours turned out to be the most memorable?

- The first tour, then we were not professionals yet, we did not work in the Krasnoyarsk State Philharmonic Society. We sailed to Mexico. It was in 1989, then there was still the Soviet Union, it was difficult to go somewhere, I had to fill out a bunch of documents.

And I saw jazz dancing even earlier, when I went in for sports, and often performed abroad in demonstration performances - in Belgium, Ethiopia, Nepal. In Belgium, I met a very famous artist in the past, Bernard Joseph, I was lucky to perform on the same stage with this ensemble, that's when I first saw what jazz dance is. It was 1977 I realized that jazz dance is, first of all, energy, namely energy.

Then the next tour: America, Los Angeles, Washington, Phoenix - Arizona, Bafalo. The most significant are Monterey - Mexico, Germany - Wiesbaden, etc. etc.

And the most memorable was last year's trip to Chicago, to the World Jazz Congress, which included a jazz dance choreographer's competition. For me, it has become golden. And I have been going to this for seven years. First, Washington, we did not take anything, we just looked, took what we saw "in sight", then Phoenix - 3rd place, "bronze shoe", this was also a sensation. Because before us, not only Russia, in general, no one penetrated the pedestal of America, always the 1st, 2nd, 3rd places were with the Americans, the founders and legislators of jazz dance.

Then another, 3rd place in Bafalo, then - Monterey - Mexico, second place. And now the happy city of Chicago is the center of jazz dance, the birthplace of jazz dance is New Orleans. And the center of jazz music and dance is Chicago, and it was there, in 2002, that we won gold, and it was a sensation. Russia won the biggest prize, ie. formally, we became the first in the world in choreography.

What is a choreographer's competition? These are some new solutions, some new technique, a new style invented by me. Chicago 2002 - the happiest trip. After that, I lay as if paralyzed in a hotel and crossed myself, looking at the ceiling, I could not sleep, I was happy. No one could think, and could not dream that we would even win bronze. Although, as an athlete, I was aimed precisely at leadership and precisely in Chicago. But imagine - all the judges were Americans. It is very difficult for the Americans to give any prize to a “stranger”. They are very patriotic when their anthem is played, they stand up and cry and sing it all together. This situation was very difficult. When Gus Jordan is on the jury, he is 85 years old - he is an American of Italian origin, the founder of American jazz, and American jazz dance was created under his influence. Also on the jury are Jolan Terry from New York, Frank Hechchet - Michael Jackson's teacher, Joe Tremay, Mia Michels - the most fashionable choreographer in America. And, despite this, our artists won 1st place.

Tell me, do you think one should be born with a sense of rhythm or can it be taught?

- You have to be born with this. Although, if you start from early childhood... I'm doing an experiment - I have a free ballet studio for children. If you take very young children and study them very carefully, you can instill in them a sense of rhythm. There were such examples. In my troupe there are girls who, until the age of 17-18, were engaged in folk dances. Folk dance is the simplest music that caresses the ear. And it was difficult for them to retrain in syncopated jazz, complex music. But, nevertheless, they were able to do it. And without this music now they cannot imagine their life - even in their leisure hours they listen to jazz. And yet - in order to improve, you need to complicate your training, complicate and complicate. And I notice that I manage to bring this up in my artists.

Were you offered to move to another city? If yes, then why did you stay in Krasnoyarsk?

- I am in solidarity with Nikita Mikhalkov here - this land brought me up, I love Siberia. To be honest, I am a patriot, I love Russia. I'm always trying to prove that we, Russians, can dance jazz. "White Man" can dance jazz, just give us the information. There was an offer to work abroad, and I went to work. It was America, May. Eric Cooper is a frail old jazz dance teacher who died last year. We worked together - she really liked my productions, I liked her. She invited me to work. I put pieces of musicals there, held master classes for adult dancers, and also for children, which I especially liked. I don’t know why, somehow I’m good at working with children. But why should I give the knowledge that I took in America in the same place - in America. Why are our children not eligible? Our children are doing just as well, and in some respects even better. Our children can dance. No, there was never such a thought to leave. I worked there, and I can't say that I got more satisfaction than I get working here. I like it here. Of course, there are many shortcomings, the conditions are not right, everything is not right, but, nevertheless, wonderful people. I hate Moscow, I hate our center of corruption. In Siberia, our people are somewhere a little more closed, even, until they fall in love, they are angrier, but the people are beautiful, the people are good. And not in Moscow, but here, in Krasnoyarsk. And we have the right to everything, living here in Krasnoyarsk, not in Moscow. Moscow is a city of dissidents. If a person here - in Krasnoyarsk could not do anything, he says, reassuring himself: "It's because I'm here, in Moscow they would understand me," and he goes to Moscow, and there he is nobody. Here you need to work and love your land.

How do ideas for your productions come about?

- This is, first of all, music. The scheme is as follows: music - picture, music - idea, music - idea - picture - staging.

You have staged several productions in theaters, tell me, is it more difficult to work in the theater?

- It's more difficult in the theater because it's an order. The best things are done for free. Here at itself statement goes as though free of charge. You work in the theater most often because of the money, because they pay well. But they tell you: “You have to do it like this.” The director says: "You need to do it, I want to see it, do it the way I want to see it." Let's say I want to do it the way I see it, but I don't have the right because I'm working with this director. I worked a lot with theaters: musical comedies - 4 performances, Pushkin Theater - about 6 performances. It is interesting to work with theater-goers from the drama, because everything goes through their heads, and then to their feet, with a professional dancer, on the contrary, when he dances, only then he begins to understand something.

Tell us about your dream that has already come true. And what else is there.

- It came true in 2002 - it's "gold" in Chicago. What I was going for 7 years. This is a big stage in life.

And I have an everyday dream - to have a normal jazz studio, some kind of cozy room with a plastic floor. Now my guys are suffering on a wooden floor. And jazz is always a parterre, it's jumping. These are some kind of sports movements on the floor. Not good on hard floors. But, unfortunately, we only have such floors left. Mirrored plastic floors have long been abroad, and this is very convenient. I want good lighting equipment. Well, I don't complain about music. Every year I bring a lot of CDs from abroad, and I've been processing here for a whole year. Sitting in my office - at night, in headphones. I go to bed at four in the morning and get up at one in the afternoon. I think that work should begin at one in the morning, when everyone is already asleep. If someone does not sleep in the city, then he is already bothering me (laughs).

What will you do next?

- Now I need to overcome a certain complex in order to put something. When we became “golden” in Chicago, I had such an incomprehensible complex, it seemed to me that now I have to stage something that will surprise not only here, that it will turn everyone’s head. But so far I haven't been able to. Everything is going smoothly. I need inspiration. I don’t know what - to fall in love, for example, to go somewhere to rest. To meet some amazing performer who will change my worldview. It is such a task to overcome this mood. Happiness at work. I get the most satisfaction when I take on something, and it works out.

Are you happy?

- Yes, I'm happy. I am proud of my people. I have unique performers and personalities. And personality also needs to be done. After the Soviet Union, after some "square dances", they are zombified, they do not know what should be. There are 5 people on the right and 5 people on the left, and in the center there is one person - they already have this in place - this stereotype needs to be killed. Raise a new generation of dancers. I have amazing people, all after graduation, everyone knows 3-4 languages, it’s not a shame to be with them abroad. My wife Olya dances in a troupe, she knows 4 languages ​​- Italian, English, German, Latin, as well as other girls and guys. I am proud, I am happy that they are with me, and that together we represent something.

How do you feel about your son's work?

- Like all fathers, I guess. I am very critical. It always seems to me that everything is wrong with him, that he is not in such some kind of clothes, somehow he behaves in a wrong way, does not move like that. In fact, if you look soberly, everything is going well, he is already 26 years old, he dances no worse than others, but, let's say, I can't make him a soloist. I don’t know, it seems to me that he is a little different, that everything is a little better than he is. It's probably like all parents. When a child is small, it seems that he is the best, and when he grows up, on the contrary, you want him to be better. And he is him. Not the way I think, and that's right, that's good. And it sharpens me somewhere, like a father.

The girl - the youngest daughter, dances at the Mariinsky Theatre, studied here at the Dance Academy, choreographic school, then transferred to St. Petersburg, graduated from the Vaganova Academy, and she was left there. She is the first of the Krasnoyarsk ballerinas to dance at the Mariinsky Theatre. It’s very difficult to get to the Mariinsky, but somehow, with God’s help, she got there, she has been dancing for 2 years, and she has already traveled a lot, she rarely calls, now from New York, now from Paris, now from Tokyo, interesting.

Do you like your children following in your footsteps?

- The life of a dancer is a difficult life. Go somewhere in the courtyard of Krasnoyarsk, any elderly woman will say: “You dance, well, I understand, but where do you work?”. “If you break your leg, what are you going to do?” - they say so. Here is an accountant - this is normal. Or at the computer, or repairing refrigerators - everything is like with people. I understand it. A difficult life for a dancer, but on the other hand, it is beautiful. There are, of course, their own problems - and the body must be kept in perfect condition, and youth is needed, at the age of 40 it is already difficult to dance and it is also difficult to retire early.

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