By Mike Bello
Salsero: May I have this dance?
They get on the dance floor and begin to dance mambo with each other.
Salsero has been dancing regularly for over six months but feels very nervous.
Usually, he dances well.
His nervousness stems from asking a very experienced dancer to share the dance floor with him.
During the song, his anxiety escalates when he badly leads several turn patterns.
Sensing that Salsera is seemingly sizing him up; probably regretting this dance.
He begins to feel that he may be inadequate and vows never to dance with someone above his level again!
He'll just play it safe with those of his caliber or less knowledgeable dancers.
As he's feeling the clock slowly ticking away, he anticipates the mambo section of the song, successfully leads his partner into shines position and starts to execute several shines he knows how to do well.
Internally, he's relieved that the closed position dancing has temporarily stopped, reveling in his freedom from the prison of self-doubt!
Alas, it ended much too soon and he reluctantly re-establishes his connection with Salsera.
The rest of the song seems to go on interminably when, finally, it is over.
Salsero and Salsera thank each other for the dance.
While he escorts his partner to her seat he realizes that his perspired body is more of the emotional variety than the physical.
When he returns to where his friends are one of them remarks, "Wow! So you finally danced with Salsera! That's cool but you didn't look right. What happened?" "I'm not sure," says Salsero. "I guess I was pretty nervous. I didn't know what to do with myself." To which his friend replies, "Yeah, it showed."
The above is a common illustration of how confidence can play an important role in how your dancing is perceived.
Confidence, a "can-do" feeling, is many things to many people:
reliance or a faith, belief, trust, conviction and a certainty in something(s)
assurance or poise, boldness, firmness and even self-possession.
Certainty, which can be a persuasion or determination in a given area of expertise.
But does this feeling of confidence need to be actualized?
Well, I believe, over time one can build on a background of experiences to help bolster an individual's confidence.
Yet, one can also "psyche" themselves into having confidence by "acting-as-if!"
Make believe you are confident!
Exude confidence, even if you do not truly feel confident, and others will start to believe or feel that you are confident!
It is like visualizing something to help yourself achieve a goal.
This mental "faking the funk," so to speak, will give you a that little edge to carry you through many circumstances.
In fact, when I was first learning about the clave and dancing On2, there were occasions, too numerous to count where I used the "Act As If" technique to get me through a dance as well as many other circumstances.
No one was any the wiser.
When feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, coupled with nervousness and anxiety are left uncheck, they sometimes are picked up by others.
They leave a negative connotation which can be perceived as being incompetent, inept and clumsy.
When you tell yourself that you can do it, that you have much to offer and, most importantly, that you will get through it then others recognize this "perceived" sense of confidence as the real thing.
When you portray this belief (without arrogance, of course) then others will believe it as well.
So, while you're learning and practicing that new turn pattern, shine or fact about the music and rhythms, try to "Act As If", whenever appropriate, and life in dance will go just a tad smoother!