"No, I can’t dance, I can barely move. I love Latin music, but I don't think that I can move my hips like that". In my experience as a salsa teacher, I've heard this sentence many times!
As soon as I convinced people to give it a try, they could feel such power inside them and felt more beautiful, capable; things seemed to fall into place. Both men and women could express the same feeling of having achieved something.
DANCE AS A TOOL FOR ASSERTIVENESS
As I began my career as an assertiveness coach and consultant, I understood it even better: dance is indeed a tool for assertiveness.
Why? I will give you a few examples:
As you move, and I highly encourage you to do it in front of the mirror, you get to know yourself better. You weren’t aware you could move your arms or your hips in a certain way to the music. Even if you feel awkward, just continue. Be proud of discovering your potential through movement.
Through repetition and practice you’ll see the polished movement and will be proud of the new skill you have acquired, which in general is an element that enhances your self-esteem (Nathaniel Branden, in "The six pillars of self-esteem” talks about the power of self-effectiveness to improve self-esteem)
If you’re shy or not so assertive in general, the posture held whilst dancing will help you feel more powerful. For instance dancing with a proud chest and head (salsa is influenced by Spanish court dances, where the upper part of the body is held elegantly and assertively), will help you to reach that state of mind in which you feel respected in harmony with what surrounds you.
In some cultures rotational movements of the hips, shoulders, and chest are seen as unnatural or shameful. However, they are natural beautiful movements that actually empower us to be more in connection with our bodies.
THE POWER OF MOVEMENT TO EXPRESS YOURSELF
We ‘re not always able to speak up. In the film, “Desert Dancer”, an Iranian dancer is not able to dance in his own country and emigrates to France. He represents the fact that he couldn’t speak through dance – he says nothing verbally but asserts himself with his movements which speak louder than words ever could. His frustration could come out. People were moved! Have a look:
GROW THROUGH DANCE
To be more connected with your body means to be more aware of yourself, your boundaries, your wishes, desires, and connection to life. Do that in front of a mirror, or perform on a stage in front of people, to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and therefore grow.
Alessandra Patti is the founder of FindYourWay Coaching. She’s also a professional salsa dance teacher and uses salsa, both in her private and professional life, as an ‘anti-stress tool’! Find out more about her assertiveness training here.