Ballroom Ponderings:
Random reflections after dance class

Heels by Ed Schipul

‘Heels’ by Ed Schipul

Last night after a waltz class at one of my favorite dance studios, I found myself pondering some of the more-than-just-dance learning that came out of the class. Here’s one thought in particular that I want to share:

Accepting praise and acknowledgements feels good. A few times during the course of the lesson, the teacher demonstrated a few of the patterns that we would be practicing using me as the follow. Of course, I love when this happens as it’s always awesome to get to dance with a great teacher, and it’s a lovely confirmation that I’m doing well enough in the class that they know I won’t horribly embarrass myself (or them) in front of the entire group. As it’s often customary for the class to clap after a student has made it through a particularly long or difficult segment of steps with the teacher, I was the recipient of applause two of the times that I helped demo. And, what I found incredibly interesting was the comparison of how I reacted after each time, and then how I felt after each reaction.

The first time they clapped, I did a slightly over-exaggerated bow in a circle to take them all in as I bowed. Even though I was being funny about it, I also felt myself fully taking in both the applause and the laughter that followed in a really heartwarming way. I was openly and directly acknowledging their praise. And it felt incredible! I felt a part of the group, supported by the group, wonderful about my accomplishment as a dancer, and just plain happy to be me in that moment.

The second time was quite a bit different, however. The second time around I felt like it might be pushing it a bit too much to do the same thing again, questioning internally if they’d think I was too full of myself or too much of a ham. So, instead, as they applauded the second time I merely walked back to my partner without making eye contact with anyone. Smiling, but not really connecting or acknowledging the appreciation and praise. And, holy crap, what a difference! I suddenly felt separated from the group, had a slight knot in my stomach, felt awkward and disconnected, and even a little bit empty from the experience. They clapped just as heartily and were just as supportive, but me not being open to it, internally or externally, made for a huge difference in how I felt afterwards!

It also felt awkward at the level of the group energy that second time around. I could almost see a question in my partner’s eyes as I walked back to him. It was like the group was expecting the very thing I thought they wouldn’t want to see — me, accepting the gift of their acknowledgment. With their applause, they were merely letting me know that they appreciated my effort as a dancer, in the very same way that I have acknowledged each them, yet my split-second doubt created an energy shift that left their gift of praise hanging. It was a great reminder that graciously (or even somewhat goofily) accepting compliments, applause, praise, and acknowledgments does something both for us and for the giver(s). It creates, or even deepens, a connection. It can be very powerful when graciously accepted.

2 Comments. Leave new

I love this, Heather! Yes, receiving is one of the most difficult things for many of us to do. Yet, to be able to fully receive (praise, acknowledgment, gifts, etc.) is the practice of allowing the Universe to give to us. If we want an abundant life, we MUST learn to receive with gratitude and grace.

I especially enjoyed your sense of humour while graciously accepting your first applause. Bravo!

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Thank you Heather. This theme, of accepting praise with gratitude, is so important. It is the same thing I needed to learn, and am still learning, about allowing others to support and help me when I need it – and there have been times over the last 8 years or so when I have really needed it. But still, there is that nagging voice that feels funny accepting praise, as you did at your second round of applause from your colleagues, or accepting help that is offered with open hearts and good intention. They clap for you because they appreciate your effort, appreciate you. And help is offered out of love, because they know I needed it. And to accept those offerings is to diminish the offer. It’s in accepting the praise by bowing deeply, or accepting help by opening yourself instead of surrounding one’s self with good ol independence, that we become more whole, and allow those who offer their praise or help to do the same. Thank you for pointing this out so clearly, and for reminding me.

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