A couple years ago, unbeknownst to me, a family friend signed me up for ballroom dance lessons. At the time, I was pretty insecure about the whole prospect of learning any form of dance…particularly couples dancing. As a musician, drummer in particular I could certainly stomp around the floor to the beat of a top 40 hit, but couples dancing is a whole other story.
Flash forward two years later and today ballroom dancing has become one of the single most joyful events of my week. It helps to work with an award winning teacher, practice at an incredible studio who treats everyone entering the door like family, and raise a son who loves dancing even more than I do. But what’s surprised me most of all is that I’ve learned more about myself than any number of steps in my repertoire.
I’ve discovered how difficult it can be to make confident, deliberate moves. Spotting, which is keeping your eye on a single target and attack it with every turn often sends me off balance, but I work on it every day. I’ve learned that the hardest part about dancing is walking that “simple,” slow, stylish walk to the corner of the stage. I’ve learned that balanced posture, even when standing still is the secret to looking confident with even the simplest steps – pelvis tucked, back straight, shoulders and hips aligned, toes turned out, weight on inside edge of foot slightly forward…now breathe. I’ve realized that putting emotion into the performance is probably the single hardest thing to learn, but once you can put yourself in that place, the performance not only “feels” better, it looks better, and the audience stays hooked.
Most of all, ballroom dancing has taught me that although it’s a couples sport, there are many moments when you must let go. Your partner’s hand escapes yours. You stride confidently across the floor. You release your emotions wholeheartedly. And when you make a “mistake” you let it go and continue on no matter what. Like life, there are no do-overs in ballroom dance. When the wrong step comes, and it will, the audience won’t notice or even care if you put 100% into moving forward. Dancers, like all art forms accept that letting go of imperfection comes with the responsibility of giving a full performance.