I recently attended an Argentine Tango festival – which was a bit of stretch for me as I generally don’t allow myself to be vulnerable with complete strangers. Overall, the day was fabulous for me – wonderfully affirming and informative instructors who offered specific tips and hints. Most of my practice partners were incredibly generous, meeting me where I was skill-wise, ensuring that I felt comfortable and providing insights mixed with a bit of coaching – thus encouraging me to be a bit more vulnerable and enjoy the dance.
Unfortunately, I did have one partner who was not so generous – frankly he was a bit of an ass – not only was he unable to hide his frustration and lack of patience with my skill level, he also lectured me continuously during our short time together. Needless to say, the more he kvetched, the more I tensed up, increasing my inability to follow his lead.
Thankfully, this encounter was at the end of the day and I already had had a great experience. That being said, the juxtapositioning of generous and cranky partners led to some deep reflection and learning about emotional safety, vulnerability, and risk-taking. What if “cranky pants” had been my first partner? Would I have been able to risk being vulnerable with other partners or would I have entered each dance already tense?
I don’t know. What I do know is that I am so grateful for my professional partner/instructors who provide that confidence-building emotional safety that allows me to stretch and grow.