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Dancing is Life August 30, 2009

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Uncategorized.
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Amara Ann Bertorelli and David Hansel at Philly Comp by Larry Thomas

Competing at Philly DanceSport with Dave Hansel

I have been a ballroom dancer for fifteen years. I dance socially and have competed as well. As you can imagine, I love to dance. As one of my friends said when she was first learning to dance, “This is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” Uh-huh…

For years I have been trying to articulate what it is about dancing that makes it ‘soul work’ for me. Is it the music? Is it the social aspect? Is it the striving for excellence? Is it the partnership with another person? Yes, yes, yes, and yes…and more.

As in dancing, so in life, I think. In life we are all about relationships, whether we acknowledge it or not. Relationships are the fuel of a fulfilled life. Sometimes that relationship may be with another person, with God and/or the spiritual, or with one’s self. And dancing can fulfill all of those needs, believe it or not. For today though, I’d like to focus on the partnership aspect of dancing, since I do a lot of work in the area of relationships, both personally and professionally (as an executive coach).

In dancing with a partner, a relationship must be built—even if it’s only for the duration of the fox trot that you are dancing. A relationship happens when two people are coordinating action together—such as dancing the steps of the fox trot. Dancing is like any other work/action that people accomplish together. At its most effective, one person is the customer (the leader), the other is the performer (the follower). There has to be an agreement about who the customer is and who the customer is not. If I as the follower suddenly decide to start leading I will get my feet stepped on and my partner  will become cranky. This does not produce an elegant result. I have seen many disagreements arise about dancing (usually between partners who are either married or in a long term relationship). But as my dance instructor, Dave Hansel likes to say, “One person has to be in charge of the dance and that person would be me.” And, dancing is the only time that I will be a follower without a conversation to establish  “for the sake of what” am I allowing you to make all the decisions. (Just sayin’)

So when the agreements are in place and each person plays his or her role according to the agreement–ah, beauty and the sublime.

Now what I just wrote is a rather left-brained description of good dancing and being a right-brained thinker, I need to add a bit of the spiritual to the picture.

So what is it about dancing that makes my soul sing? First, it’s being in connection and alignment with another person, whether I particularly like him or not. When my movements flow gracefully and easily with my partner, we fly across the floor (if dancing a smooth dance) or create a sexy interlude (if dancing a latin dance) and that is really fun. It’s all part of the great show– and far be it for me to turn down an opportunity to star in a show.

And then there’s chemistry–another aspect of an uplifting dance experience. As in life, there are always those partners with whom I have chemistry  from the moment we step on the floor, whether we know each other or not. And then there are those who are flat and with whom I feel uninspired. Then the challenge is to be the most interesting dance partner that I can be. If I’m getting nothing from my partner, I dig into my own love of dancing to find that joy that bubbles up every time I’m out on the dance floor. So even if I can’t love dancing with my partner, I can love the dance itself (or is that dancing with myself–just kidding).

Maybe this is a lesson to be applied to life in general. Sometimes  life provides me with situations that are flat, with people who are uninspiring or even worse.  I have a choice: I can be flat and cranky myself or I can find the love of the journey and the process of it all, take the ‘growth opportunity’ and say thank you.

Enough philosophical musing for this Sunday morning…go dance in whatever way you like…




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