One of my all-time favorite ad slogans comes from IKEA (Can you believe I remember who the ad was for?). In the ad, a woman is assembling a dresser all by herself for her new place. The narrator, an older African American woman, said that someday the woman “would find a man … or a woman. I don’t judge.” I think it stuck in my head because it was the first ad I ever saw that was so accepting. Also, the simplicity of the statement captured my attention.
One of my students in this LGBT Ballroom/Latin dance class gave me the best compliment:
You don’t care if we are men or women, if we prefer to lead or follow. You treat us all like dancers.
It made my heart swell with pride, primarily because I knew it was true. With students I simply needed to know what role I was playing during our dance time together. And that role was not visibly obvious, as it would have been in a straight dance class. I had no preference … or preconceived notions.
During this time, I had the pleasure of performing and competing with a dear friend, Sonia.
When training, we would meet up a couple times a week to prepare – proudly sambaing or cha chaing across the middle of the studio dance floor, figuring out how to bend our choreography around obstacles and coming up with solutions for the inevitable brain lapse. She taught me so much about teaching and made me a better dancer for it.
I’m so glad I have video of us dancing samba together. This is from our last competition.
Neither Sonia nor I are continuing to dance at this level. Fortunately, we still have the memories … and the friendship.
Happy belated birthday, Sonia.