Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life Lessons I've learned from WCS

West Coast Swing, and partnered dancing in general, brings out many challenges and issues for each individual dancer. This can be in the form of dealing with our self-image and confidence, boundaries and social skills, and much, much more.

I firmly believe that this wonderful dance of ours, West Coast Swing, has the capacity to teach each and every one of us so much about who we are and how powerful we can be. The lessons we learn on the dance floor can be taken back to our homes, our workplaces, and all other areas of our lives. What do I mean by that??

We have a safe place to practice taking risks and to learn to be ok with looking goofy.
  • I can’t remember how many Pros I have heard say “You gotta go through goofy and ugly to get to cool and sexy”. Given that we are all trying to get to the latter, we are all in good company while we work through those moves that just don’t come naturally to us. I can’t remember how many people I have heard in a beginner lesson who are convinced that they have “two left feet” who have gone on to be wonderful dancers. Thank goodness they took that risk of looking goofy and making mistakes!!! Learning to be ok with not always looking “good” and being ok with making mistakes is a powerful lesson that we can all take out in to our lives.

We get to practice letting go of our perceptions – both of ourselves AND our partners!
  • I remember a friend telling me how she ate humble pie once when she went to her first weekend and saw a guy who she thought “didn’t look like a dancer” and decided to “be kind” and ask him to dance…only to be totally swept of her feet and brought back down to earth in one of her best dances of the weekend. How many people do you meet every day who you create an opinion of before you have really gotten to know them?

We form partnerships with friends and strangers alike for three and a half minutes where we take a piece of music and create something that we could never have imagined before the first note was played.
  • There are not many places where people can get together to play, to flirt, and to generally be vulnerable with a stranger of the opposite sex (or not!) with no worries that their actions will be taken as an invite for something – er – more…. Many dancers are people who got tired of the “bar scene” and all the drama that goes with that territory, yet they still wanted an outlet for their passion to move to music. (I am one of those people!) Aren’t we so lucky to have this place to express this part of who we are?? Where else can you practice bringing playfulness and joy to a situation?

We learn how to be sensitive to the smallest signals from another.
  • Robert Royston’s mantra of the 3 types of lead (Physical, Visual, and Body Language) can be applied to the dance of life. The best dancers learn to share in the conversation, rather than to dominate it. Great leaders learn to adjust their dance to the abilities and confidence of the follower, choosing moves that compliment her rather than moves that make them (the leader) “look good”. Great followers learn how to relinquish control while adding what they hear to the conversation, sorta like adding the seasoning and embellishments that makes a well prepared meal to gourmet status. Hmmm…where else can we practice these skills in our lives??

We are so fortunate to have this wonderful dance. For anyone who is considering West Coast Swing (and partnered dance in general), all I can say is, JUST DO IT. Let go of what you feel “should be” and be patient and kind to yourself. For those who have been dancing for some time, consider where you can take the lessons of the dance floor out into to your life.

See YOU on the dance floor!!!

1 comment:

  1. I recently was hurt, my shoulder by a leader and when it happened there wasn't an apology. Subsequently I e-mailed him and explained how much my shoulder hurts and that I won't be dancing for quite a while. I haven't heard anything yet. There were times on the dance floor when someone might have stepped on my foot or their arm swung around and hit me but so far everyone has apologized and showed concern. That is the right thing to do.What's surprising is that this is a known person to me and when I said ' Ouch' you hurt me, it was obvious to him what had happened. I am still waiting! Barbara