For the past seven weeks or so, I have been taking Tango lessons. I am terrible at it. There are many things I have trouble with. Trying to remember the steps, and moving fluidly while also maintaining form with the top half of my body does not come naturally to me.
One of the things I struggle with the most is that, as a lead, I am not assertive enough. Being a lead means using your body to communicate with your partner; which direction you want to go, which movements you wish to make, etc. It means being assertive with your body.
Being assertive is something that I have always had trouble with. And not just with dancing, but in other areas of my life. I’m beta through and through and never one to step on any toes (literally and figuratively). Suffice to say, I have made plenty of decisions–some major life ones–under pressure from others, rather than pursuing what I wanted. My lack of assertiveness killed my drive, which prevented me from going places I might otherwise have gone.
That’s not to say I have major life regrets. That lack of assertiveness led me to make a lot of mistakes, but I was also able to learn from those mistakes.
My dance instructor points out how I am not using my body effectively. I need to lean in, while maintaining my posture in order to inform my partner which direction I want to go. This is something I feel insecure about, especially because I go to class solo. Each week I get up close and personal with absolute strangers and participate in an activity that I am horrible at. The whole experience makes me feel a bit vulnerable, honestly.
As a result, I tend to push my partner’s body farther away from my own as I move, instead of staying close to them. I’m trying to be more conscious of this but it’s something I do without even thinking about it. I often forget which steps I’m supposed to make and have to start over. I laugh and try to joke about it with my partner, but I feel quite uncomfortable much of the time.
In essence, Tango has been bringing many of my insecurities to the surface. I always feel pretty uncomfortable going to class and dancing with strangers. But it’s because of this discomfort that I continue to go. I want to face these insecurities head on and learn how to conquer them.
The progress I make with my dancing is a visual representation of my personal growth; I use dancing as a way to gauge that growth. Becoming a more confident dancer means I am becoming more confident and assertive in general. I’ll keep working at it, and maybe in another seven weeks, things will be different.
But it will probably take much longer than that.