It’s hard to believe I went my entire life without dancing a single step. Then, after college I stumbled upon a Latin music and dance community — and transformed myself into a proficient dancer, performer, and instructor.
I stopped dancing for a few years when life had become too hectic to continue anything that brought much joy or required free time. Thankfully, a rude awakening and a bit of good old fashioned soul searching led me back to many of life’s joys, including my favorite hobby: salsa dancing.
It’s strange how my perception of dancing has changed after being away for a while. I am now more aware of nuances and intricacies that were not apparent before. Dancing offers valuable insights about moving through life with grace and connecting with those around us — something we all need.
1. If you think you can, you can
When I was an instructor people always used to say, “Oh, I can’t dance… I could never.” It’s the old “two left feet” excuse. We are our own worst critics, but it is necessary to let go of the doubts and trust our abilities to move through life exceling to levels we only imagine. Believe you can — and you can.
2. It starts with a single step
So many times in life we long to take a new path, embrace a challenge, or explore uncharted territory but our fears and doubts keep us from taking the first step. If we have the courage to take that first step and then another, and then another, before we realize it we’re dancing happily toward our passions.
3. Let go and let someone else lead
Let go of your inner control freak. When you do, you will realize you are not giving up control but allowing a connection.
4. Forget what you know, just feel the music
The hardest thing for students to do is forget the steps and the technical aspects they’ve worked so hard to perfect and dance to the music. Feeling with their hearts rather than thinking with their heads. In dance, and in life, if you trust your intuition and purposefully experience and feel with your heart you will always move in the right direction.
5. Sometimes it’s okay to back-lead
In dancing back-leading is when the female (or the follower) takes a dominant role in the dance to help their partner get back on the beat, or find their way to the end of a turn pattern or combination. And, although it isn’t proper etiquette to back-lead constantly, offering a helping hand (especially when learning or going through a particularly difficult part of the dance) is welcome. Sometimes we all need a little extra help.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney summed it up in their lyrics, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
6. Check your ego at the door
John Maxwell said it best in his book Failing Forward, “Get over yourself, everyone else has.” Many struggle through life self-absorbed and obsessed with protecting their egos. Worrying about what other people think of you and constantly feeding a need to appear above everyone else is a sure way to fail at the dance of life.
7. No matter how much you know, you can always improve
As human beings we are constantly evolving. Never miss an opportunity to learn. Open yourself up to receive the gift of knowledge — there’s always room to grow!
8. Have fun!
I take dancing seriously… sometimes too seriously. When I’m really having a really good time and am completely immersed in the music sometimes I misplace my smile. It’s important to remember not only to feel happiness and intensity, but also to show it and share it with others around us. I still get “in the zone” and put on my serious face from time to time, but I’ve learned that laughter breeds resilience and a smile is the most beautiful gift you can give to another person.
9. Be yourself — find your own style
Let your personality shine. Nothing is more attractive than someone who is authentic and not afraid to let their uniqueness peek through.
10. Embrace your sexy
Most of us focus our lives on taking care of everyone else. We strive to ensure those around us feel loved and happy, but forget to do things for ourselves that bring us pleasure. It’s important to show different sides of your personality, take time for yourself and remember what makes you feel good. Find it, feel it, embrace it — and put a little bounce in your step.
11. Shimmy, shimmy, shake, shake
No one is perfect. There’s no better lesson than to learn to shake off the mistakes and shimmy through them until you get back on the beat.
Connecting with others is the most important thing in dancing and in life. Every glance, each touch, and even the slightest motion conveys something. Creating intentional connections with those around us and being aware of the message we’re sending ensures we’ll dance smoothly through life.
Featured image courtesy of iujaz via Creative Commons.