No 33 Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury
Friday, August 18, 2017
“Patience is passion tamed.”
– Lyman Abbott (1835 – 1922) American Congregationalist theologian
For many years I never had patience. I was a ‘millennial’ in the 70’s. I wanted everything in my dancing to come to me on the first try and I wanted my technique to be perfect and natural from the first try. I had the passion and the talent, but not the patience to practice to perfection. Many others could just see a step and do it the first time. That skill I did not possess (I still can’t do this).
Then, I watched how others taught the steps that I was learning. They were fast and impatient with their students, and they lost patience with those that did not learn as fast as they had learned. They even became harsh with others when the step was not executed to their standard.
One of my teachers told me a wonderful key that has stayed with me for decades. She said “David, you’re a slow forgetter!” I just thought I was dumb sometimes when I could not get a pattern. But when I learned the step and the technique, I had it for a lifetime.
On the teaching end, since I was a “slow forgetter”, I was very patient with my students. I learned that the two key ingredients in teaching were laughter and praise. Later I learned that people did not remember what you said to them, they remembered how you made them feel. I learned that teaching could be a wonderful confidence building experience for the students who were learning.
“Thoughtfulness for others, generosity, modesty and self-respect are the qualities which make a real gentleman or lady.”
– Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895) British Scientist
Over the years I have had teachers who brought me to tears, made me hate and resent them, and teachers who tore me down. Then, there were the master teachers who made me feel as if I could learn and perform anything in my life. They made learning fun and made me feel confident and talented. They are still the heroes in my dancing life. Although some of the mean teachers taught me some greatly needed lessons, I still remember the emotional floggings they gave me.
Now, when I am teaching and someone makes a mistake, I pause, smile and say “What was that?” We begin to laugh and share a hug, a giggle, and then we fix the step. Those students seem to love their lessons. They are the ones who smile on the floor and draw all eyes to their great smiles and beautiful technique and styling in their dancing.
Perhaps the best part of ballroom dancing is that we learn respect. Respect for our partner, other couples on the floor, the audience, the choreography and the music, the judges, and the wonderful audience for whom we are performing. Ballroom teaching discipline and how to present the other person with grace and elegance. Perhaps if we could just get all the leaders of the world together at the United Nations and teach them ballroom technique and the etiquette it teaches, we might have better world peace!
“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”
– Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco (1897-1945) English Writer
As I write to you today, the words flow from my heart to my fingers to the page. I give this love and support to you not remembering the effort of writing, and I take back the blessings I receive from sharing this love with you, never forgetting the experience.
Thanks for reading!
David Earl Woodbury
Keep on Dancing!