I wrote a few months ago about slowly starting to challenge the self-perception that I’m not a good dancer. And about working through the frustration of learning new skills, particularly in areas that don’t come to me as naturally as others.
At an early stage of learning tango I was getting frustrated at the way my body was slow to respond to the music, when I knew so clearly how I wanted to respond musically. I also was very conscious of how slowly I was learning the new skills, compared to others who seemed to pick them up much more quickly. It added up to a deep need to show my teacher and dancing partners that I wasn’t slow at learning everything or insensitive to the music.
Although most of my life I’ve seen myself as a weak dancer, being a good singer is definitely part of my self-image. Over time I’ve acquired a real confidence in my ability to sing and to communicate to an audience. So I set myself to learn to sing some tangos. Partly because I knew I’d enjoy it, but also because I felt the need to make up for my lack of competence as a dancer.
And so, at a milonga last Friday, as well as dancing almost all evening, I sang three tangos that I’d learnt…
What really surprised me was that I received as many compliments for my dancing as for my singing!
I’d danced several tangos with a new partner – he was a good dancer, and we really seemed to understand each other, so I found it really easy and fun to dance with him. Not just with him, but with other dancers that evening, I really felt how much progress I’d made in the last few months. But what stunned me was that, as he led me back to my table, he commented that he didn’t know which had been better, my singing or my dancing.
Once I got over the surprise, I realised that there’s something very special about receiving a compliment that so strongly supported the hard work that I’ve done in challenging my own perceived boundaries.
The most unexpected compliments are the best!