Saturday, April 21, 2012
“May I have this dance?” “I would be happy to do that for you”. “What a pleasure to dance with you”. “So good to see you today”. “How are you doing?” “Good evening, everybody”. “May I help you?” Remember all these wonderful greetings? Have you ever passed someone and they did not even say hello to you? Where did our manners go, and when did we rationalize such behavior?
In ballroom dancing, good etiquette is still alive and flourishing. How we greet one another, how we ask each other to dance and accept that dance. How we finish a dance and give a lovely thank you. Wow, ballroom dancing requires us to always be at our best and aware of our manners, grace and poise.
Poise, carriage, grace, and composure. Those four words were taught to me as a young student in 1975. We carry ourselves in a poised state of being, and we are composed as we maneuver in a graceful manner. I have based all my career years in dancing on those four words.
What do women want in dancing? They want to be asked to dance in a warm and friendly way. They want a smooth, confident and elegant lead. Ladies want a safe hold that does not offend them in any way and they do not want to get stepped on, or used as a battering ram in a big crowd of dancers. They want to be thanked after a dance and left with a little glow of joy.
What do men want in dancing? They want to feel they are in command in the lead. They want and need encouragement and praise for the level they are currently dancing. Partnership in the form of helping the movement around the dance floor and maintaining posture and frame is greatly appreciated. At the end, guys want to feel that they did a good job and that the lady was happy to dance with them.
These are high requirements, but they truly are the basics of dance chivalry, which is truly just courteous behavior from both partners. If someone sees us not say hello to others, or not carry ourselves in a gracious way, they may think this is OK and try to emulate that behavior. We must remember that a sincere smile and friendly greeting are some of the basic elements of success in dancing, business, and family, and life in general.
My mother was a Southern Bell from Louisiana who never knew a stranger. I learned how to say my “Please’s and Thank You’s” from her great example. My Atlanta born dad was my example of being a gentleman to all those around him. Now, I am trying to live the legacy through the example they left for me.
Next week: Living in the Present
David Earl Woodbury
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