You know those Facebook memories? Lately, a lot of ppl in my dance community have been sharing memories. Several times in May, I was surprised to not remember the moments being shared – sure enough: I didn’t know those people at that date. Kinda hard to remember something I never witnessed with a bunch of ppl I hadn’t yet met.
I forget that I’ve been dancing for less than a year. Thank goodness for this blog, which helps me keep track of the stories in my life.
- July 2016: I started salsa
- August 2016: first kizomba class . Freak out because it is too sexy and sensual for me. I walk out after 15 minutes.
- September 2016: I fall in love with kuduro. Quit salsa. Take up ballet.
- Halloween 2016: I unofficially quit kizomba. Continue dancing kuduro and ballet only.
- December 2016: Teacher, being Teacher, convinces me to attend a major dance festival in Madrid. Mind blown and renewed commitment to kizomba.
- March 2017: Dubai Gold Dance festival – most transformative experience of my life. Teacher’s Gindungo festival, where I was given solid advice: “You only have one life. Dance if you feel like dancing“.
- May 2017: the thrill of stepping on stage, uncertain of the outcome, uncomfortably aware that I am a beginner in a team that is infinitely more experienced and skilled than me. But: I felt like dancing, and boy did I enjoy dancing on that stage.
Thanks to Teacher’s propensity to tape everything and share it on social media, I have concrete evidence of my learning curve. Behold, a choreography learned in beginning of January 2017.
We did not revisit that choreography until this past Tuesday. Behold, the same choreography, set to different music.
4.5 months makes a lot of difference.
Boxing taught me a lot of life lessons, at a time in my life where I was defenceless against my shadow. My depressions had me convinced I was worthless. Through boxing, I learned to fight – and there is no point of fighting for a worthless cause; to fight means I am worth fighting for. Key lesson.
Dancing is the next step. To dance is to accept one’s spot in space and to be seen as one is, imperfections and all, rather than as one would like to be perceived. To dance kizomba is to accept connection. It is an intimate, sensual, physical dance: chest and legs touching. As a follower I must accept the leader’s lead: that requires giving up control, trusting him to guide me with clarity so that I can translate that into movement. It is a form of vulnerability. By accepting to follow, I must accept that I will sometimes get it wrong: I won’t understand, I’ll step on the leader’s toes & stumble, I’ll react too slowly, I’ll fuckup his intentions. I must accept that my imperfections will be seen and trust that the leader will treat them with kindness and patience and work through them so we can create something lovely together. My overriding need for perfectionism is one of the ways my shadow wears me down into depression, bc perfectionism is incompatible with compassion and vulnerability, the two cornerstones of human connection. By dancing, therefore, I am weakening my perfectionist tendencies, and strengthening my capacity for compassion and tolerance for vulnerability. By dancing, I am keeping my shadow at bay.
Accepting that vulnerability and connection hasn’t been easy: I still resist. The most common feedback I get from Teacher and his assistant is, “Try to follow, ‘Nilla, please? You are not the leader“. As I embrace the struggle of letting go of all the noise in my head, and opening myself up to the music and every partner’s unique energy, I am applying these lessons to my daily life. Setting aside one’s agenda to listen to another person, accepting that one’s imperfections will be seen and are just as worthy of compassion as those of others, are principles that apply just as much to verbal communication as to non-verbal communication. By dancing, I am learning kindness.When I think of how much my life has changed since quitting boxing and taking up dancing, my confidence, my relationship with my body, my ever-expanding social circle, I can’t believe I crammed all that in such a short time period. I can’t wait to see what other lessons await me. There is so much to learn, technically and emotionally; so much happiness and joy to discover.
And I’ll have a digital trail to remind me of all these key lessons.