Cover photo credit - Sybil Tay
Over the past ten months, I've tried to embrace the character of each ballroom dance. My intention was to acknowledge how unique each dance is in its form and content.
The characterisation of any dance involves your ability to select all the essential ingredients with purpose and intention. Your deliberate choices create the character. Simply said, the character of the dance is created by how you choose to dance. It's created by you.
But who is "you"? Your character and temperament are dimensions/aspects of something larger, your personality. But ultimately it is a sense of your identity, which makes your way of dancing unique and believable. Let's dig a bit deeper here.
Temperament - character - personality
Your temperament is a constellation of inborn traits (nature) that determine your unique behavioral style and the way you experience and react to the world. In a way, we are all born with a different temper.
Where do you see yourself in the image below?
Your character consists of enduring attributes that distinguish you from others, especially regarding moral qualities, ethical standards and principles you stand behind. Your character is something that you cultivate all your life.
Character is shaped by influences from your culture, era, social and family environment - all of which then influence and shape your behaviour, values and beliefs.
There's a saying in Slovenia: "A wolf can shed its coat, but never its character." I'm not sure if this holds water. Your character is always open to improvement, and also in danger of deteriorating.
Do you wonder if you are a product of your environment (nurture) or the embodiment of your genes (nature)? Is nature the governing force behind your behaviour or is it nurture?
Your personality is the combination of nature and nurture, it is the impression you make on others. Personality changes and adapts constantly. We all strive towards a better version of ourselves.
"What you are like" is seen through the patterns of your behaviour, thoughts or feelings that you express. Being a behavioural manifestation, your personality is perceived externally.
You can come across charming, but that doesn’t fully tell people who you really are. It is more or less your choice of how you want to be perceived by others.
Through life we learn with which persona (in Latin language the term originally referred to a theatrical mask) to present to others. The chosen persona may facilitate connection or a particular relationship or it can be role-based.
At times the role that you are playing can be a kind of protection, a cover up, hiding your real self in fear of not being good enough or accepted as you are.
But what happens when you become over-identified with the role that you play? Be aware that the adopted persona, be it the social role that you play or even a fictional persona that you present on social platforms can endanger the sense of who you really are. You might lose a connection with your real self.
How your personality holds up behind the scenes
Find out what your identity is behind that persona.
We all heard the statement: "Dance like nobody's watching." What changes if nobody is watching you? Are you more courageous, more sincere, more humble, vulnerable, closer to the true version of yourself?
Identity is another word for a "self", it is everything that makes you unique because of your inner experiences that shaped you into who you are now. Identity relates to where you see meaning in your life. It is your personal concept about you, a deeper and intimate perspective of yourself, the most inner layer that you own and is not visible to others. Only you know who you are, identity is your authenticity.
Your identity is your story. But your story is not engraved into the stone, in a few years you might tell a different story about yourself.
Keep wondering what your true identity is.
How do you want to be seen in your dancing? Do you have the courage to reveal yourself in your own truth? Are you aware of who you really are, of your true beliefs and core values that you want to present to others?
If not, start to investigate. Self-realisation means that you continue discovering your potential. Aristotle already stated that self-realisation concerns full development of your unique capacities. This lifelong process will lead to fulfilment, done by yourself, taking on board all the possibilities in order to come closer to who you are.
Both you and your dance coexist and reflect on each other. The dance helps you to understand yourself and you help others to understand the uniqueness of both.
Decisions, not conditions, determine how you dance. Every dance action/movement that you take can project your identity. Acknowledge your own goals, not only for what you want. What matters is the reason why you set certain goals. Around your goals you need a company of values, as they tend to be desired qualities, directions for exploring your identity.
In order to improve, start with recognising your values and implement them into the way you dance, your vision, your own sensing of the movement. Be practical, action oriented, improvise, dig deeper. Find out what is important to you, select qualities that you want to embody and personify.
What all Ballroom and Latin dances have in common in the first place is the intention to establish and enjoy the shared communication with a partner and the audience through movement and music.
Instead of being preoccupied with others, with external traps or quick fixes, redirect your journey inwards, towards your true essence. Only then will the connection you make with the outside world be genuine and fulfilling.
Source of inspiration
Ruud Vermey - lectures, workshops, private conversations 🙏