From the Series: Life on Dog Hill
I’m a baby all over again in the sense that I am learning something new. Something that takes a lot of time to become proficient, much less perfect. Something that can only be mastered through repetition. Something that fills me with a variety of emotions. Fear. Frustration. Doubt. Self-consciousness. And lots of excitement over the possibilities.
My new endeavor? Argentine Tango!
It’s been a slow seduction since my first infatuation with Argentine Tango (AT for short) in 2012 when I came across this video with Mauro Caiazza and Daniela Kizyma. Ou-la-la! Their video has since been put on top of half-a-dozen other songs, and it doesn’t matter what’s playing, the dancing is simply amazing.
A year or so later I signed up for my first AT class. It was a six-week introduction for beginners. My hope was that the twenty or so years of ballroom I had under my belt would give me an advantage.
“Not so stiff,” my teacher would say to me. “This #dance is soft, like hugging.” #ArgentineTango
— sheila callaham (@SheilaCallaham) August 28, 2015
After five weeks, I still struggled with walking backwards. Not to mention, this stuff didn’t look ANYTHING like what I’d seen in Mauro and Daniela’s video! I put AT out of my mind and went back to ballroom where I knew what the heck I was doing.
But a love affair had begun, and in the process of connecting with other ballroom dancers in the Daytona Beach area, where our family spends several weeks in the year, I accidentally stumbled upon an AT grand master. I didn’t know his expertise at the time; I was simply looking for a dancing outlet. One thing led to another, and I was in Dutch Schouten’s studio learning AT. I took one class with him and decided, once again, to stick with ballroom.
Walking away didn’t stop me from devouring YouTube videos of AT and perfecting my Pandora station with my favorite AT artists like Astor Piazzolla, Ricardo Tanturi, and Alfredo De Angelis. I was, truth be told, smitten. So much so that last month I found myself back in Dutch’s Daytona Beach studio for an intensive immersion. Our two-hour sessions over the course of a week-and-a-half convinced me that I couldn’t resist the dance any longer.
I returned home and rejoined TangoUtopia, where I had started learning the dance 18 months ago. I attend their twice weekly prácticas, and recently signed up for a three-day workshop.
When I dance with partners well-versed in AT, their first comment to me is, “Ballroom?” I’m working on unlearning the aspects of ballroom that don’t lend nicely to AT. The good news is, at least I can follow — sort of.
It makes me proud to put myself bravely out there to learn something new. Not only am I modeling what I teach through coaching and writing — don’t let the fear of imperfection stop you — I’m learning a new artistic expression to music.
I may never be able to dance with my crush Mauro the way Daniela does, but I can at least aspire to this hot stuff!
What are you resisting? What would it take for you to put aside your doubts and embrace it?
Sheila Callaham is an author, motivational speaker, and life coach.