085 The Dance and the Release


085 TheDanceI love ballroom dancing.

If someone had told me 3 years ago that ballroom dance would become such an integral and meaningful part of my life, I would have thought they were thinking of that other Cheryl (Burke) from Orange County. But soon after getting my son hooked on it, I was too.

I’ve never been into sports. Never tried out for the cheer squad. Or, for that matter, I rarely hit the dance clubs when I was a spring chick. No. I preferred to be play drums at the back of the stage, develop movie posters behind the scenes, and write in a quiet corner until the wee hours of morning. Then I was introduced to ballroom dancing.

At first I was highly intimidated by the thought of dancing so intimately with strangers, albeit charming and wonderfully supportive instructors, but strangers nonetheless. My amazing partner, Eddie Alba, who owns Century Dancesport in Orange County California couldn’t be a nicer, gentler, more loving coach. The first few lessons were tense. VERY TENSE. Having led creative organizations and groups of students for over 20 years, I was used to taking the lead, orchestrating the moves, making the decisions and point the direction where to go next. Yeah, I had to learn to give that up…and very quickly.

Today, after nearly three years of weekly lessons, a dozen or so events and a handful of performances I’ve learned so many life lessons in letting go I wanted to share just a few today.

• Allowing another to take the lead doesn’t mean letting go of control. Far from it. A good partner needs to completely control their own action in order to be led across the floor. No one wants to dance with a limp rag. I think we can all understand this same concept from a business perspective as well.

• Practice. A LOT. Release the self critic. Practice patience. Rehearse failure. Only then can we repeat success.

• Even when dancers step back, they lean forward. They place their torso on top of their foot – a full commitment that places the entire body into the move, not just the feet. Dance is forward momentum, there is no reverse gear. Dancers quickly let go of the last move and put all their energy into forward motion.

• Dancers, like all musicians, artists, cooks for that matter, must let go of the perfection ideal. No matter how much time is spent in practice and memorization, every performance will include some type of flaw. The professional accepts the flaw and masterfully works it into the performance.

Even a step back, or a release of our grip, is no reason to let go of leaning into forward momentum.