What I learned from dance

Five years ago today I suffered the injury that ended my dancing career. I remember the training session well. Kurt and I weren’t meeting that day; I went to the studio by myself to practice.

Tammy in the Dance Mirror
Tammy at the studio in her normal training clothes.

I was going through my special playlist of two songs for each of the 10 dances. Once the playlist was over, I was going to go home.

I was at the Viennese Waltz, the third of the standard ballroom dances. It is fast. I was trying desperately to keep up, technique was slipping, and then the sharp pain. Pain was a normal part of my life, and it was normally temporary. I tried to walk it off. I did okay until I took a step to the right. Unfortunately, that is hard to avoid. I went home before the playlist was through.

We tried training for a couple of months afterwards, but it was obvious something serious was wrong. And then it was over.

I still miss it and have yet to find a completely satisfactory substitute (which adds to my fussiness). It was such a big part of my life, and I learned so many things that apply to life as a whole.

Posture: Before dance, my posture was horrible. My version of standing up straight left me out of proper body alignment, and it was impossible to maintain. While still far from perfect, I find that now when I am practicing good posture I exude more confidence, I breathe better, I walk differently, and best yet, I look five pounds thinner.

Expectations equal results: In our very first training session after my first dance competition, Kurt started teaching me a new routine. It was hard. I was about to point out to him that it was above my ability level (okay, not really “point out” but rather “whine”), when I realized that he would never give me a routine I wouldn’t be able to do with training. I kept my mouth shut and learned.

Sometimes lessons don’t sink in right away: A few years after I left dance, I was talking to Ms. M about her ballroom class when she mentioned she wasn’t able to keep up with all the quick turns in one of the Latin dances. I immediately told her the trick to turning is in the abs, and I showed her what I meant. That was not a lesson that my body had learned when I had to hang up my shoes. It gradually filtered its way through my brain after it would have been useful in competitions. Better late than never, though, right?

I do miss dance terribly, but I find traces of it all the time in my movements and mindset. It will always be with me.

What activity of yours taught you the most about yourself? or What was a delayed lesson you learned?

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