Lessons Learned

by Nancy Green

You know, I didn’t think it would happen and I’ve really tried to resist it but…I have developed preferences.  In dance partners.

The upside of realizing that I can discern good lead from bad is that I am learning to dance.  Another side is that there are leads I prefer to dance with and others not as much.

I remember thinking during the first series of beginner classes that all leads were great.  We were in it together.  Taking the same classes, stepping on each other’s feet and learning at the same rate.

And even if they weren’t so great I always had my fall back lessons of practicing kindness, patience and good posture.  And waiting it out until they got better.

As we’ve progressed from beginner to advanced beginner and dare I say to pre-intermediate, I realize that we aren’t learning at the same rate.  And yes, there are many factors: economics, amount of practice and number of left feet. To name a few.

The fact remains though that we need each other to execute our individual roles or there is no dance.  And in class, depending on whom I dance with, this is sometimes the case.  No dance and no dance lesson learned.

One of my dance partners admits the he and most of his family are “a little off.”   He’s genius, sweet, does not recognize social cues and frustrates easily.

Recently, he became so anxious while learning new steps that he began a series of stress reduction exercises.  Deep inhaling and exhaling.  Shrugging of shoulders and flailing of arms.  I had to remind him that we were still in an embrace and would he kindly detach himself from me before he started his calisthenics routine.

Another one of my classmates until recently, led solely and enthusiastically with his arms.  In effect giving me an upper body workout headed towards shoulder dislocation.  He told me that rugby was his sport and that is where he learned all of his dance moves.  That made perfect sense, made me laugh and like him all the more for it.

In fairness to these brave men, they have big dance shoes to fill.  Not only are they responsible for the direction, they have to pay attention to the musicality, allow time for her artistic expression and be mindful of traffic on the dance floor.  My teacher Dante said that it took him a couple of years to remember that there was a woman in front of him.

And in further fairness to my male classmates, they have gotten so much better.  I’ve even noticed their progress in mid-dance.

But then there are these pesky preferences.

In class, women rotate after every dance.  This gives all of us the chance to experience each other.  Or at least that’s the plan.

The problem arises when couples pass each other on the dance floor.  The natural order of things then becomes disrupted.  This can result in dancing with the same struggling lead three times in a row and never dancing with one of the more experienced leads.  Of course this can and does sometimes work in my favor.

So what are my options?  I can grin and bear it, take the next level class or talk to the teacher privately about rotation management.  Or I can take matters into my own hands.  Which is not pretty.  And that is what I did the other day.

The class was almost over and I hadn’t the opportunity to execute the steps the teacher was teaching, for the lead could not lead them.  I did something so shocking, so out of character…I cut in front of one of my fellow follows.  I basically stole her partner.  Not one of my better moments for which I apologized to her immediately…after the dance.

So what lessons have I learned?

I will renew my vows of patience and kindness.  For even if the dance of the moment is not the one I had envisioned, without him, there is no dance.

Copyright © 2012  Nancy Green