Do you talk tango or speak salsa? If not, you needn’t worry: people don’t have to speak a foreign language nor be a professional dancer to enjoy the many spiritual, physical, and mental benefits of dance.
If you follow me and my journey as a mother, academic, professional coach, and dance enthusiast, you’ll know that dancing is in my blood.
As such, this past November, I joined a 20-day international salsa challenge! No, we weren’t meeting in Cuba. We all meet and danced online. Yup, online and the energy was infectious! There were 250 salsa dancers competing from all over the world! And, these competitors embodied a range of ages and skills – from beginner to super advanced.
TRAINING & STRUCTURE
How did it work? Well, there were 10 teams with approximately 25 dancers per team. On my team, there were 8 local (D.C. area) dancers. The remainder of the teams were from overseas.
Each day, during the 20-day challenge, the eastern European salsa pro/instructor, posted a short video lesson which included instructions including:
How to interpret the music
A one-minute dance demo showcasing her own interpretation of the music
A one-minute music clip for us to download and then video record our improvisation of the assigned music.
This was a serious challenge: The competition i.e. dance marathon (truly!) had a strict deadline in that participants only had 48 hours to enact the task (a video clip of our solo dancing improvisation to the assigned music) and send in our respective video via Telegram (an app similar to SnapChat).
We were also encouraged to post salsa video snippets on social media and include relevant identifiable hashtags in order to entertain and inform our own followers and demonstrate to the other teams how invested we were in the challenge.
So, what did I learn and how did this challenge change me and, in turn, influence my work as a professional health/life coach? Well, there were so many lessons learned! These include:
During the challenge, we were basically thrown into the salsa pond and asked to swim. Here’s how we were advised how not to get frustrated during the trainings:
● We conditioned ourselves with clear manageable tasks (eg. focus on precision or musicality/movement with one body part such as footwork or arms)
● Instead of trying to do everything at once, we praised ourselves for what we could achieve.
We learned how to:
● “Meet ourselves where we’re at” and not put too high of a demand on ourselves.
● Accept our level without judgment. Participants were encouraged to play the song, listen a few times and improvise as best as we could at that time instead of over-thinking and over-practicing.
● Completion over perfection and choreography.
We were able to observe and be inspired via:
● Seeing other dancers’ videos, getting new ideas, and aspiring to improve from the start to the end of the challenge.
● Observe what your body does, how it moves, envision what is possible, and see improvements over ten challenge tasks in 20 days.
● We all accepted being vulnerable – exposing our raw talent on video and social media.
● I love how we empowered and uplifted each other, caring and encouraging one another, how we cheered each other on and how we did each task without excuses - despite being sick, traveling, busy work schedules or family needs.
● Participants videotaped themselves wherever they were - at home, in hotels, in train stations, airports, amongst beautiful European monuments and scenery.
Overall lesson: Regardless of the level we’re working in at present, the challenge created an atmosphere where each member could immerse into this world of dance, make us fall in love with salsa music, and add more freedom and creativity into our lives. I even recorded a dance video with my puppy Charli!
One fun addition: Competitors had one “totem” which is an opportunity to skip a task or miss a deadline. Any additional “totem” use meant that, unfortunately, team members would be excluded from the challenge i.e. excluded from the course platform and group chat. This was a real challenge with no easy way to beg off or get lazy.
However, there was so much online group support that the challenge became addictive. For instance, there was (good) peer pressure to post and share instead of skipping the task - because we were a team (and the competitors as a whole were, united in dance, supporting one another) and, our team certainly had an eye towards the winning team prize!
Me! Well… our team! We worked so hard and supported each other through 20 days of physical and mental challenge. I’m so proud to be part of the winning team – and to have completed this joyous challenge which showcased the beauty of our own dancing and the magic of our musicality when we were initially blind to these traits and overly critical of ourselves.
Click here to follow me on Instagram to check out my dance and salsa challenge videos (and view my vulnerability and ultimate growth!) as well as insights into all things wellness and rejuvenation.
PS: Welcome to 2023: A New Year. A New You. You too can step outside your comfort zone and unleash yourself in order to become the person you are truly meant to be! Let me help you find the real YOU!
So, click HERE to learn about my Life/Wellness Coaching Clinics and schedule a complimentary Coaching Discovery Call which will help you to gain clarity on self-acceptance, vulnerability, inspiration and achieve a more positive mindset.
PPS: And since I am so passionate about dance and how it brought me such joy during very challenging life transitions, I am considering adding a dance element into my health/ life coaching practice. If you’re keen to embrace your inner child, innate creativity, wondrous spirit and the myriad health benefits of dance, let’s talk! Click HERE to chat and to be added to our waitlist.
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