Dancing and the fear of shame

Dance like nobody is watching

What are your thoughts on this overused phrase..?

  • Absolutely agree, you have to be yourself on the dance floor
  • Yeah right!
  • This is probably how advanced dancers feel
  • All of the above

I personally think, it is baloney!

Even as an advanced dancer you are fully engaging with the people around you. Not because you feel that they are judging you but because you are all sharing that moment

How many times haven’t you left a milonga thinking: “well I had some really good dances but the energy in that place is just sooooo unwelcoming?”
Or think of the last time you went to a concert, for example, and the audience was just sooo out of it, how it dragged your energy down too. Compared to a concert where the audience was feeling it, it was part of the action, and you just couldn’t stop singing!

The truth is it makes a huge difference if you surround yourself with positive, active, passionate people, compared to negative, passive people.

What we can’t confess to ourselves is what is keeping us back

The biggest problem with that phrase is that it is used to cover up a rather big problem… FEAR OF SHAME

The fear of making a mistake in front of everybody.
Looking stupid, incompetent or unable.
Afraid of taking a risk just in case it doesn’t work and you make a fool of yourself in front of everyone!

I was at the OACCPP conference last Friday presenting Transformative Tango with Carolyn Dallman Downes. Very exciting day during which I learned so much, one phrase though sparked the idea for this article: “shame leads to disconnection and disconnection leads to shame“.

You have probably heard leaders say things like: “I am not able to follow what the teacher says, I look like a fool there

Or followers saying: “Oh my God! How terrible did that look? We almost fell 3 times

Or having one or the other partner with this expression on their face:

via GIPHY

While thinking: “You are killing my groove! You are making me look like an idiot!”

(If you are in the last category and you are thinking that the smile at the end will save the day…eeeeh Think again! People can tell! Hahaha)

What to do about it…
Step 1: Accept that people’s opinion matters!

Is it such terrible thing to admit?
A milonga is a social event, it is like a little town, where everyone sees and knows everything!

It doesn’t mean that their opinion will necessarily change the way you dance or your choices on the dance floor but before you say: “ I don’t care what anybody thinks” be ready to back it up with actions…or admit that you actually do care.

Step 2: Deeply get to know your community.

What usually happens is that we waste time trying to fight our fears staying away from milongas…BUT this only makes things worse! It just makes the monster bigger!

Instead, go to the milongas with intention to study them, to understand the community you are about to enter and not only to dance.

Step 3: Focus a big part of your practice on improvising. Instead of practising routines that don’t work on the dance floor.

Now you can understand how important the  a previous step… You need to know the dance floor and the dancers of your community, to know what kind of moves fit best.  Here are a few ideas that will fit perfectly on any dancer floor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2IDoTBcPsA&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCj4JopmCPg&feature=youtu.be

Step4: Followers–though this is something leaders should think about too–really embrace.

Dance is not action-reaction, it is offer, absorb, create movement and give back.

You need to hold your partner. Really hug and that involves your arms and hands.
Especially connecting in the hands, is essential, because there are so many nerves ending in the hands, in the finger tips, if you practice on taking your mind to the hands, you will see, you will become more sensitive towards understanding your partner.
You will get a quick image of how they are feeling at that moment.
Are they comfortable? Are they tensed? Do they have a shoulder problem? Are they going by the book or are they a bit more open to exploration.
It is pity leaving your hands out of the dance. Engage and you will know your partner before you take one step on the dance floor.

Why am I referring to followers?

Simply because worldly accepting to dance with someone is not enough. You have to let them know through body language as well, that you are there to dance with them and you are fully commiting to the dance.

Step5: Leave your ego at the door.

The ego-dog at his own door is like a lion” Rumi, “Little book of Life”

Get into the embrace coming from a respectful caring place.
Come into the milongas with the intention to have fun, to meet new people, to share at least one smile with someone outside your group.
Look at the dance floor seeing only the beauty of communication.
Be on the dance floor with the intention to create and share something from your heart.

You might read these words and think… Yeah yeah, I still remember that time when… ENOUGH!

When we create a safe place people bloom. People express themselves, share. Mistakes become beautiful surprises. Risks become thrilling experimentation.

Steps on a beat become DANCE.

This is an excellent example of the work we do in Intelligent Tango

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