12 Life Lessons I Learned from Dancing
by Svetlana Saitsky
As a 16-year-old girl, I discovered salsa dancing on a tiny beach in Panama. I observed the chemistry between the dancers, the movement of the bodies, and felt the rhythm of the Latin beats – it was all so beautiful and inspiring. On that beach in Panama began a love affair that has lasted over a decade and has taught me so many lessons both about dance, and about life. Here, I’m inspired to share 12 life lessons salsa dancing has taught me.
1. Trust your partner
If you have agreed to the dance, then agree to it 100% and trust your partner. Whatever kind of partnership you enter in this life, whether on the dance floor or off, if you agree to participate, stay fully committed.
2. Trust your neighbors
Standing and observing a dance floor from above, one sees a sort of human kaleidoscope and it’s absolutely beautiful. Many nights of observation have taught me to trust my neighbors. The less I worry about people running into me, the less they do. I find the same to be true in life.
3. There is a time to lead and a time to follow. Know which is when and stick to it.
On the Salsa floor, the man is the lead and I have found that if I try to lead, the dance becomes sloppy. Sometimes in life it’s time to lead and sometimes, it’s time to follow. I have found that fighting this reality, both in life and in dance, you always lose. So accept your role and have fun with it.
4. Smile and have fun.
Some of the best dances I have ever danced were with partners who were having the most fun, not with those who had the best technical skills. Whether on the dance floor or in life, the more you smile and have fun, the more enjoyable the experience will be for all parties.
5. Make eye contact and connect.
No one wants to dance with someone with great moves but who lacks the ability to connect. Both on and off the dance floor, the more you learn to connect with your partner via strong eye contact, the more powerful the overall experience will be.
6. Get out of your head and just be there, in the moment.
There is nothing more enjoyable than getting lost in the flow of the dance. This can only happen if you get out of your head, stop thinking and just let go and trust. I find the same to be true in life.
7. Stay grounded.
In salsa, beginners tend to spin on one foot and lose balance rather then switching off between both feet. I struggled with this, and still remind myself to keep both feet on the ground in order to be more balanced, and when I say this, I say this both about Salsa and about life.
8. Wear what you feel comfortable in.
I dance better when I am comfortable. I live better when I am comfortable. Enough said?
9. Take a chance on someone and don’t judge by appearances.
Some of the best dancers I’ve ever danced with were not people who purely based on appearance, I would not have assumed to be good. The salsa club continues to remind me to not be so quick to judge people purely based on their appearance.
10. If you’re a beginner no need to get fancy. Own your moves before you build upon them!
Whether learning salsa, guitar or a new language, I have found that trying to get ahead of myself too fast just held be back. In order to improve any skill, the key is to build the strongest foundation. From there, the sky is the limit.
11. Sit back and observe.
I have learned a lot about the art of dance by simply observing the dance floor. As great as it is to participate, there is nothing wrong with taking some time to sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
I’ve watched people blossom on the dance floor and gain so much confidence because they kept coming back. I find myself doing things I never though I could do in dance, and it’s not because I have any special ability to learn, it’s simply because I keep trying.
Both on and off the dance floor, may these lessons inspire you to have a more rich and joyous experience.
Svetlana is a Creative Iconoclast who strives to inspire through her work as a photographer and writer. With her entrepreneurial spirit, business school education, corporate experience and artistic savvy, Svetlana combines left-brain intellect with right-brain creativity and resides in San Francisco, CA while working on her first book on Inspiration. A modern day Renaissance woman, Svetlana believes in exploring a variety of passions daily and when she is not taking photographs or writing, you might find her salsa dancing, singing, eating avocados and hanging out in coffee shops all over town. To explore Svetlana’s work, please visit her here!