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More Lessons I Learned From Dancing May 11, 2010

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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As in dance, so in life. Now that I’ve been dancing for some 16 years, (Yikes! I told my teacher that I should be better than this after 16 years but that’s not what this post is about) I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the lessons that dancing teaches me about life. And since so many people seem to be taken with ballroom dancing these days, (could it have something to do with Dancing With the Stars??) I’m going to share some more of these lessons today. I wrote a post about this last August Dancing is Life if you’d like to check that one out.

Lesson #1 Always make your partner look good.

In dancing this especially applies to the man—usually the leader. The very best dancers are the ones who have a knack for showing off their partners. This means giving her a lead that she can follow and knowing that if she doesn’t do the right step it’s because she didn’t get the lead. It also means selecting steps that are in her repertoire and that she does well. When this happens, lovely synchronization of movements follows and everyone is happy. Might this not be a helpful idea when you’re up to something with another person—be it a work project or a marriage—especially a marriage. Giving leads that can be followed and synchronization of action make life a whole lot easier.

Lesson #2 When you screw up just keep dancing

When this has happened to me (too many times to count) while dancing, I just keep smiling and even assume the attitude that I meant to do it that way. Now I am not advocating that if you have just done a major screw-up at work you smile like an idiot. That will at the very least make people hate your guts, at worst it might get you fired. What I am suggesting is that you remain philosophical about your ‘mistakes.’ Don’t berate yourself or others. Know that we all make mistakes, makes amends where you can—and keep on dancing.

Lesson #3 Fighting about who is right causes inelegant results

I have frequently noticed what I call the “the married couple syndrome.”  A couple signs up for dance lessons and in the course of their instruction they begin to have their usual disagreements about who is doing it right and who is not. The result of this is that tension develops and one person wants to quit. If they do persevere their development as a dance couple is limited by their interpersonal conflicts.

Getting caught up in who is wrong can make any work go to hell in a handbag. Yes, I know it can be very satisfying to prove that you are right and to state that assessment definitively. And how has that worked for you in the past? Yeah, I thought so. So perhaps taking the higher road will produce the results you are after. But if you want to try the low road, well, then go for it. (Just don’t come crying to me.)

Lesson # 4 How you dance is how you do everything

My teacher Dave Hansel is fond of using my friend Terese and me as a case study. Terese is a scientist by training and by temperament. She approaches her dancing with minute attention to detail. She and Dave can spend her whole lesson discussing and practicing the position of her foot in a fifth-position break. She practices for hours in front of a mirror critiquing every small move. In short, Terese is a great technician and when she competes she is often rewarded for this by the judges.

I.on the other hand, am totally bored if the conversation about technique goes longer than 10 minutes. I acknowledge that the technical aspects  of the dance are important and I do my best to honor them. But for me, dancing is an expression of the soul.So when I dance I exude the passion that I have for dancing. And if I get the step just right, great, and if I don’t I’m still loving it.

I’m sure you’d be shocked to find out that I approach all my ‘work’ with the same outlook. I learn the technical and then I connect to it on the spiritual level. So my point here –and I do have one—is that how you do anything is how you do everything.

How about try getting a little more conscious of what dance you’re doing and what you could do to make it a more elegant one? Get your personal observer fired up or ask someone else to give you feedback about the results you are producing and how you’re doing in your relationships. You might be surprised at what you learn.

And whatever you do —just keep dancing.

–Amara

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