Over my years of latin and ballroom dancing, I developed certain ways of approaching each style. In both, I tried to have lessons with the best dancers available to me, weighted with my feeling of compatibility with the teacher’s nature. When I danced with my ballroom teacher, I would deliberately try to meld with their physical movement and with their energy as a person. Ballroom hold means that the man and woman are dancing body-to-body and moving as one unit. I would, in large part, use my teacher’s confidence, experience, and power as a male dancer to compensate for my own dancing shortcomings.
Of course, as a dancer, one has to outgrow this reliance on the other person. Skilled female ballroom dancers are highly capable in their own right and very centred in their own body. Nevertheless, it is how I tried to overcome my inexperience, improve most quickly by getting a feel for the flow of the movement, and have the best interim experience. And I think it did all of that.
Latin was a different story. It is not body-on-body contact. One has to stand on one’s own two feet or one foot as the case may be. I always had a barely concealed feeling of being, frankly, pathetic, even though, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think I actually was. No amount of reasoning seemed to alter this perception. My latin teacher must have felt that he was dragging me through quicksand for years.
Eventually, something in me changed. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, All in all, it’s not that bad.
I stood up straighter, put my shoulders down, put my weight into my standing leg, and moved. All of these are important for being grounded in latin.
From that moment on, my progress took a different curve. Latin became a love, not a struggle, and I never again felt that I couldn’t do it.