This I Believe

Michael - Buffalo, New York
Entered on September 5, 2007

I believe in ballroom dancing. I believe in the power of its movement. I believe in the power of its partnership. I believe that ballroom dance is more than another form of dance. I believe that ballroom dance is more than a social activity. I believe ballroom dance can change the way we see the world, the way we interact with others, and the way we love ourselves. I believe this because I have seen the former change in my life and in the lives of others.

I have been a student of dance since I was 15 and began teaching ballroom dance when I was 19. Ballroom dancing for me is an expression of my artistic nature as well as cathartic, both physically and mentally. I love the nuances of ballroom dancing. The scratching sounds of my heel moving across the floor when I dance the Tango or the shift in my partner’s shoulder blade as I lead her into an over-sway in the Waltz. Most of all I love the feeling of oneness of movement with another.

The culture of ballroom dance—specifically at a school of ballroom dance—is more than learning the technicalities involved in patterns; it is a social outlet and a life changing experience. Most schools provide opportunities for student interaction. These interactions I find are the reasons why people love the ballroom dance world. There, new friends and relationships are formed. While people take ballroom dance for many different reasons the former serves as their reason to continue.

No matter the impetus for taking lessons people usually find it a life altering decision. Each person’s experience is different and I can’t know how each person is affected. What I do know is my observation of people at the schools where I have worked. I have seen the widow/widower find new reason to live. I have seen the divorcée/divorcee find someone new. I have seen an idle couple find new affection. I have seen the sullen and self-conscious change attitude and develop new-found optimism. And I have seen the socially awkward find a new way to interact with ease.

To take a hand of someone you do not know and can at once be close and familiar is gift not found too often. There is no talk of war, politics, or religion; there is simply the connection of two people with their common language as ballroom. That momentary connection between two strangers is magical and specific to ballroom. That human connection–without fear or judgment–is a life and world I strive to know.