Random reflections after dance class
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.