No 33 “Patience is passion tamed.” 8-18-17

Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde 

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!



How to be Strong in Heart and Strong in Dancing 7-11-14

2014-06-11 15.53.26

David Earl Woodbury
No 28 Changing Lives through Dancing
Friday, July 11th, 2014

How to be Strong in Heart and Strong in Dancing!

Do not be afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your
belief will help create the fact.
— William James (1842-1910) American Philosopher and Psychologist

Why is ballroom, partnership dancing, so wonderful in today’s world? It is because dancing is freedom. Dancing is life. Dancing is fun and exciting. Dancing is the new escape in today’s modern world.

My dream room where I type this message has a glass wall facing Broadway in Santa Monica. During the day I see hundreds of people pass our studio. They are looking down at an absurd piece of plastic in their hands. They have earphone in their ears and they are sometimes talking into a wire.

People walk up and down the street talking with headsets. In my day we thought people who walked talking to themselves were crazy. Now, we are talking to someone, somewhere, to anyone except the people who are around us. For a world that is connected by technology, we are sometimes quite isolated by technology. The new trend is not having a voice mail box on your cell, only using texts to communicate. Wow, what happened here?

To be strong in dancing, you must have a good frame, good posture, a good connection, a sound mind, floor craft and people skills. You can’t send a text or place a cell phone call while you have both arms around someone dancing a Cha Cha or a Tango. While dancing, you are with a real person, moving with them, communicating with them, talking to them. You are in real time, in the moment, in real life. No WIFI connection is a fast as the connection between two people dancing together, moving together, sharing music and the magic of dancing together.

How does dancing make our hearts strong? First, we finally stand up and we’re off our phones, tablets, and desktop computers. We are breathing from deep in our souls and we are listening to music from our hearts, not just our ears. We are sharing our movement with another person surrounded by music that tells us what movements to execute.

Becoming strong in dancing makes us real people who can communicate with others in real time. We grow through our self-esteem, our confidence and our self-image. To be a great dancer means we can move socially around the dance floor, interacting with the ever changing pulse of the crowd. We become pliable, easy to be with, and comfortable in our own skins. We learn the magical language of dance that may be spoken with anyone, anywhere at any time.

Dancing means that we do not use each other as battering rams or punching bags. We do not take out a bad day on our partner, beat each other up, or let our emotions take over our manners and reason. As a man, my privilege is to take care of my lady, to guide her, protect her and present her. A lady’s honor is to follow the man, respond to his leads, and compliment his movements. I wish I could teach a dance class at the United Nations. I would teach harmony and peace through dancing and partnership.

Why am I strong through dancing? Well, it is because I love it. I love learning dancing, performing dancing, teaching dancing and watching dancing. I see the joy it brings to other, the good health and harmony that others experience, and the youthful excitement that others exude through their dancing.

Dancing will make put a spring in your step and a song in your heart. If you feel that you should be gliding around the floor, take the first step of faith and get dancing today! You’ll be happy that you did and you will be a shining light to others.

What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in
faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action how
like an angel! In apprehension how like a God!
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English Playwright

Thank You,

David Earl Woodbury

Next Week: How to say YES to dancing! It’s sometimes harder than you think!