“You are so brave,” and “I couldn’t do that,” were the most common reactions when I told people that I was going to participate in a dance competition as part of a nonprofit fundraiser.
Turning Point is a resource center for survivors of domestic abuse/sexual violence, and I have been a Survivor Speaker for them for the past two years. I know how important their services are, and I am happy to be able to share my story to help their cause.
Turning Point’s annual fundraising dinner features Stepping Out With the Stars, a dance competition that pairs a professional dancer from the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio with someone who is involved with Turning Point (called the Star). This year, there were five star dancers.
For the past two years, I have attended this fundraiser and watched the dancing competition.
Last fall, when I received the email invitation to be one of the Star dancers, I waited a few days before responding, asking myself if I could be brave enough to perform a ballroom dance in front of hundreds of people. Could I risk public humiliation if I wasn’t a good dancer or if I forgot my steps?
I decided to accept the invitation because I believe so strongly in Turning Point’s mission and because I know that real courage is what it takes to walk away from an abuser or to report a rapist, to ask for help and to survive. The courage it takes to dance pales in comparison.
Preparation included dance lessons with one of the instructors at our local Arthur Murray Dance Studio, who choreographed the dance and taught me the steps.
I have never taken ballroom dancing lessons, so everything was new to me. At the beginning of the first lesson, my instructor explained the rules of ballroom dancing. Rule one—the man leads. Oh, oh, I thought. We are in trouble. Being led does not come easy for me.
That first lesson, my instructor repeatedly said, you took the lead. and initially I disagreed, but soon I could see he was right. I kept trying to take the lead. He suggested I close my eyes, and that helped.
During the second lesson, my instructor explained the foot positions of ballroom dancing, and I came home and printed out footprints and placed them on the floor in the correct positions so I could practice.
Then I went to as many lessons as I could and also found other opportunities to practice ballroom dancing, even if it was not my routine. I just thought that the more practice I could get, the better prepared I would be.
I wanted to try my hardest to do a good job because the instructor was volunteering his time to support Turning Point, and I wanted to honor his commitment of time and effort.
The event was last Friday, and I was the first to dance. Family and friends came, and I felt very supported.
I felt quite brave.