It was my second Forró dance class when my fellow beginner dance partner and I learned how to spin. After practicing the basics a few more times, it suddenly occurred to me that learning how to dance is closely similar to learning how to be in a harmonious relationship. You need open communication, trust, intimacy and confidence in yourself and each other to gracefully move around the dance floor. Granted, you may step on each other’s feet once or twice, literally, but that’s totally fine because it’s far more important to follow the same rhythm.
Before realizing this, I knew my own shortcomings when it comes to being in a romantic relationship. Though I must say, there were four key aspects that I clearly need to work on as a dancer and partner.
The Value of Taking a Pause
In Forró, the beat goes like this: 1, 2, 3, PAUSE, 1, 2, 3, PAUSE, 1, 2, 3, PAUSE. The pause may not seem like a significant thing when it’s written like this but it is. I learned this the hard way by not taking a pause and setting a pace that was faster than my dance partner’s. Our instructor says that, “you fall into the pause, it has a heavier weight while the other steps/beats are lighter.” Not taking that important pause made it more difficult for my partner and I to mirror each other’s steps, and since my pace was faster, I inevitably messed up our rhythm. I needed to slow down instead of anticipating my next step because my partner is supposed to be leading me not the other way around.
Relationships are similar in a sense that we fall in love with our partners slowly.
All of that attraction and desire is present within the first few months, but if we don’t slow down and take our time enjoying each other’s company and learning about one another beyond superficialities, that fire burns relatively quickly. Leaving thinking about what could have been instead of what is.
Letting Someone Else Take Control
Growing up I was taught to be self-sufficient and independent. If I was hungry, I’ll go get something to eat or cook for myself. If there’s an assignment that I need to get done, I’ll to do it myself. I hope you can immediately see how this can be a problem in a partner dance where the control is not entirely mine.
In Forró, the man is responsible for taking the lead, guiding the woman between bases and spins. There’s an unspoken communication between each other, a sort of letting go that I was initially reluctant to do. Part of it is learning to rely on someone else, trusting him. Both of which, I have a problem doing easily outside of dance. Thing is, the moment I let my dance partner take the lead was the exact moment I started to enjoy myself. It wasn’t just about learning how to dance anymore, I was dancing.
In a relationship, at times it may be difficult to trust your partner because trust is such a fragile thing. We’re emotionally invested and hopeful that the person we are choosing to trust will not take that gesture for granted. After all, we do not only trust them to take care of our toes, our hearts too.
Stop Thinking Too Much!
While the instructors were teaching us more complicated spins and steps, I found myself thinking too much about where my feet should go or if I’m spinning in the right direction or whether I was off beat again. Doing so made it more difficult for my body to actually learn the steps and spins.
Similarly, we can get so caught up with what’s in our heads instead of what’s in our hearts sometimes that soon enough we end up in a downward spiral. Questioning every little detail that may or may not matter as much as we think it does. If only we took the time to pause and recognize that all of the thoughts in our head are mere thoughts. They only stop being thoughts when we act on them.
Intimacy isn’t just a physical thing it’s a transcendent connection.
My dance partner and I would sway for a minute or so to get a sense of the rhythm of the song. Often times, you’ll see dancers close their eyes to feel the music and to let intimacy build with their partner. Creating this connection to the music and your partner keeps you in synch as you dance around the dance floor.
It’s a culmination of letting go of your inhibitions, trust, being receptive of open communication and building a connection.
By all means, I won’t be a great Forró dancer right away. It takes practice and changing habits to have the skill level I want to have. I’m also not shy to admit that I haven’t been the greatest girlfriend/partner either, but I’m working on it.
P.S. My apologies for the photos, our dance social kept going as it rained.