Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dancing Tips - The Thrill Of Competition

By Stanley McCalla

Judging a (New York, Fred Astaire Dance Studios) competition last August, I was pleasantly surprised by a senior Pro-Am male student who was jubilant on the dance floor. He was competing in a Bronze competition against three other male students. Watching him dance brought a nice grin to my face. Was it his technique…? His musicality…? His expression…? The latter was his prominent suit; in fact, his display of joy while performing was infectious. I don’t remember how he fared against his opponents but I think he did quite well.
Later that evening, having coffee with one of my colleagues, I noticed the gentleman in question sitting at the next table talking to some of his friends. Taking this opportunity, I went over, introduced myself and congratulated him on his performance.

"Thank you Mr. McCalla," he said, "I love every moment of it."

He went on: "Dancing has saved my life. It was either going to a shrink or going dancing, so I chose the latter. This is my first competition and I will do more of those because I realized that while on the dance floor I feel liberated from my problems and happy at the same time."

"Interesting," I said, "More people should know about your story."

He came back with, "Oh, yeah, I was rich once… my wife left me… my money is all tied up in a court dispute… needless to say, I have a lot of reasons to be depressed right now but I am not. Thanks to Fred Astaire Dance Studios, I found some new joy and happiness."

I chatted with J. for a few minutes before moving to my next judging session of the evening. I left with a nice feeling of satisfaction. His happiness at that time was genuine, and I felt there was a message there for all of us.

How many of you, like J., feels free on the dance floor? Perhaps you have taken lessons for a while, but have yet to experience this freedom that comes from performing. Maybe it is time for you to test the water and experience the thrill of competition.

I urge all of you who are reading this today to join us at AAC, our next National Competition to be held in Chicago this coming July. It is going to be fantastic, exciting, liberating and fun. Yes, we are experiencing a recession, but dancing amongst friends will keep you mentally and physically healthy.

Students, go to your teachers and ask them to sign you up. I hope to see you there. Until then, happy dancing.

Stanley is a Fred Astaire Dance Board Member & Examiner. He is available for coaching, judging, and examinations.

1 comment:

Elita S. Clayman said...

I have been writing about the joys of dancing and it's elimination of sadness from one's life even if only for the hour or two of the dancing itself.

When my own mom was sick 25 years ago, taking time out for a lesson once or twice a week can help with the mental stress of a beloved's illness.

Dancing in whatever form you participate is the best medicine there is.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
Columnist for Fred Astaire
Baltimore, Maryland