Leadership Lessons from Dance – The Affects of Trauma

During the Texas Salsa Weekender hosted by Austin Inspired Movement an instructor was teaching about how to stabilize our core ab muscles even more than we think we should while dancing. He started to demonstrate how when a dancer is pushed they should be able to maintain the integrity of their frame, the body as all one unit moving together, and either absorb the push and return to where they were or be moved slightly but as a unit.

It was pointed out to me that when I was pushed I allowed myself to be moved slightly to the new place, did not return to my original position, and stayed as still as possible. When the push was harder I automatically released my core and allowed my frame to collapse or for my bottom and top half’s to be isolated from one another and fold over.

As the lesson went on I became more and more stoic, silent, introverted, and introspective. Eventually I spoke up and offered some insight into why my body may be naturally reacting to the push the way it was though my mind understood the lesson, the intent, and the desired outcome.

I have experienced sexual assault therefore I have learned coping mechanisms such as detaching – of leaving my body to endure the experience while I suppress the memory. I have learned to give into extreme physical pressure rather than pushing back or fighting, I have learned to stay very still so to not be noticed anymore so that the episode will hopefully pass more quickly.

Realizing these lessons my body has memorized to protect itself and keep me safe helped me be more compassionate and patient with myself in the dance lesson. I was now having to unlearn habits from past trauma and that takes time.

I know that I am safe. I know that I can stand my ground without that putting myself at a greater risk of danger. I will continue to learn to hold my core strong, to not disengage or detach, and to follow my dance partner with my whole self in tact.

Dance requires great trust from people who usually find the hobby when they are at their most painful and broken. Dance as in life is not only trusting your partner but trusting yourself as well…


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One comment on “Leadership Lessons from Dance – The Affects of Trauma

  1. “Dance requires great trust from people who usually find the hobby when they are at their most painful and broken.”

    This is true for me. My wife of 20 years died 13 years ago. I started salsa 11 years ago. After a year or more of mourning, I gave myself a choice: either get something to do, or kill myself. I found salsa, and have been dancing ever since. MY wife left me a gift in her death; that gift was salsa.

    God bless salsa.

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