An Insecure Dancer

I was just about to leave for my first big tango festival when a message popped up on my phone. It was from a skilled dancer raving over the amazing followers and how every dance was the “best one ever”. Then he said how excited he was to dance with me that afternoon.

My excitement shifted – without a clutch – to anxiety. Was I going to be totally out of my league? I had been working on my tango but I still had much to learn. I didn’t want to disappoint any kind-hearted, unsuspecting leads who took a chance on an unknown girl. First impressions matter – especially in tango.

That weekend, I felt this anxiety pulsing through my body with every guy who asked me to dance. Sure, the dances were amazing for me, but were they amazing for my partnersBecause I truly cared about that. 

My focus when dancing is on giving and creating. I seek to give perfect balance, timing and responsiveness. I seek to create a moment with my partner that leaves them feeling awe over what just transpired between us and the music.

That level of giving and creating takes time and work to master. Meanwhile, I wrestle with the insecurity of knowing that I’m not there yet.

When I began tango I discovered something terribly awkward. With it’s complex technique, requisite intimacy and demand for total vulnerability, tango makes people insecure. Could I get truly comfortable with being raw, vulnerable and (gasp) – imperfect in this unforgiving dance?

I could handle being raw and vulnerable – hey, I was once naked on stage. But the idea of people politely suffering through dances with me while making mental notes to avoid me for the next decade was unacceptable.

I am secretly obsessed with how I feel to my partner. I never want a lead to feel burdened by a lack of balance, or thrown off by bad timing or wonder how to control something that doesn’t listen and moves on auto-pilot. The insecurity is a result of how much I care about how I affect my partner and what we are collaboratively seeking to do.

Insecurity drove me to action. 

Therefore, I work regularly with a pro. I insist he is brutally honest when training me. I attend weekly practicas (and probably annoy the leads with how much I ask how something felt or what would make it feel better). I ask for specific feedback. I assume nothing because I’ve been surprised in the past. Insecurity has kept me open to growing. It drives me to root out and fix everything that doesn’t feel good to a partner. Insecurity drives me to take an experience and seek ways to make it better.

This all served to help build greater confidence. However….

Confidence carries an ugly risk – assumptions. Sometimes we get so comfortable or confident that we get sloppy over time without realizing it. Or we think we know more than we truly do. A “good” embrace isn’t the same as a “phenomenal” embrace. Everything can be done better with new layers of technique.

As I develop confidence in an area, I keep it on my radar to check regularly with practice partners and my pro.  I’ve grown sloppy two weeks later on something I thought I had nailed down.

So perhaps a dash of insecurity is a good thing after all… something to keep me humble and driven to stay on top of my game. A few weeks ago, I travelled to a festival out of state and had a drastically different experience. I felt confident. I felt humble. And even though I felt that tinge of insecurity, this time I knew what to do with it. I embraced it.

Related: Tango isn’t for Everyone & The 9th Way to Get Asked to Dance.

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About Epiphany

epiphanies on life and spiritual living as I chase wisdom - one insight at a time.

Posted on February 27, 2017, in Dance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Michael C. Brown

    Another great installment of wisdom on dance, but also on life. So much of life resembles a dance as we interact with, rely on and work to give and receive in balance with one another. Bravo, Karen – Thanks for sharing these insights in the manner in which you do – simple, well-articulated, and to-the-point. I look forward to your next entry…


  2. My dancing “insecurity” was so limiting I just attended my first out of town event after 8 years of dancing. Kudos to you for going because nothing conquers fear better than doing that of which you’re afraid. Nicely written piece. Thanks for writing it.


  3. I was just thinking that this relates so well to all other relationships in life. In business, honest communication is so important. My former mentor, Michael Brown, used to remind me to “consider the recipient.” How would my words and actions feel to them? Same thing in romantic relationships. Are we open to vulnerability in order to embrace the honesty that may come? Are we willing to expose our insecurities for the strength and firm foundation of the life/long dance? Thank you Karen for giving us something worthwhile upon which to ponder and reflect!


  4. I agree that there is value to insecurity – or humility, which is a more positive word. It helps us avoid the dancer ego syndrome, and keeps us willing to learn and get feedback. But I absolutely think such insecurity should be put aside on the social dance floor; there a feeling of relaxed confidence is much better. Why? Because dwelling on our insecurities makes us dance worse. It puts us inside our headspace, at least partially. There is a *huge* difference when a lady I dance with stops wondering whether she’s doing right, and starts to actually dance. Everything improves. I also notice the effect of my confidence and relaxedness has on my own dance, and it’s considerable. Whenever I feel insecure or like I have to prove myself, I try too hard and dance worse.


  5. Tango is difficult but such a great dance. I remember my dancing it with my dad, he was an amazing lead, I just needed to follow, it was easy with him. We are doing a Tango in Tap dance, no partner required, it is equally amazing and so much fun! Have fun with your Tango!


  1. Pingback: Dancing Scared (Part 1) – Kjzz Fuzion

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