Linda’s dance story
In 2016 we started a project called “Tell Your Dance Story” to share just some of the transformations, achievements and accomplishments of our Rio Rhythmics members.
Once upon a time in 2002, a doctor asked me, “Why don’t you try partner dancing?”
I’d just started my little public relations business and was planning to sell my house and move to Brisbane from the Gold Coast. I wanted art and bohemia and creativity and while I knew I’d miss the beach and being close to family, I wanted to live somewhere where ideas could be plucked from the air. I wanted city. And so I took out my first-ever mortgage to cover the gap between what my house would bring and what I would (frighteningly) outlay to replace it in Brisbane and headed to a city I didn’t really know anything about, where I didn’t know a soul.
It was an exciting, stressful time. Hence the doctor and his suggestion at which my introverted self thought, “Dancing???? Partner dancing? I never have. Never could! That’s just silly.”
But then, just before I left for Brisbane, I saw an ad in The Gold Coast Bulletin for an exotically named dance academy called Rio Rhythmics. It was running classes in Southport. I was in Ashmore. Just a skip away.
And so I started classes and I still remember how I felt when I saw Bolero danced for the first time. The grace and elegance and wonder of it. “Oh!” I said to another student. “What are they doing?”
“It’s called Bolero,” the student said. “The walking dance.”
The walking dance. I whispered it to myself and thought that dancing a dance like that must feel like a dandelion seed does when it floats in a breeze.
And then, I saw and heard my first Brazilian. I felt like David Attenborough does when he sights something rare and wonderful. His name – Tarcisio Teatini-Climaco – made the world go all bright and colourful and the way Tarcisio stitched Brazilian culture and life wisdoms into his dance teachings touched my soul. And so, I asked Tarcisio whether possibly, perhaps and potentially, there might be an opportunity for me to handle the Academy’s public relations?
To my gob-smacked delight, he said yes.
I moved to Brisbane.
The next five years were among the most exhilarating and exhausting of my life. I danced my way through Salsa, Tango, Merengue, Samba de Gafieira, Forró, Bossa Nova, Cha-Cha, Zouk Lambada and Bolero while working to spread the message about this tantalising dance school bringing authentic Latin dance to wide-eyed people who, for the most part, had no idea what Tarcisio was talking about.
Brisbane was like a sponge and the word spread fast.
In 2004, we gathered traditional Peruvian, Colombian, Chilean, Bolivian and a host of other South American dancers and musicians and, with Rio Rhythmics hosting, staged what Brisbane Festival organisers would later tell us was “the largest public event Brisbane Festival had ever seen.” Some 5,000 people filled Suncorp Piazza. It was standing room only on the floor in front of the stage, and the amphitheatre seating was filled to capacity.
Latin dance was wriggling its way into every corner of Brisbane.
Rio Rhythmics kept on. Through it all, I was captivated by the dance and delighted by the academy’s life lessons…
How the doing of the dance wasn’t possible without one considering the other…
How singularly-focused career women like me can find it difficult to put themselves into someone else’s hands, and simply surrender…
How people reveal just exactly who they are on the dance floor without saying a word…
How contagious a Brazilian hug can be and how the Brazilians’ particular brand of sunshine mixes perfectly with the Queensland sun we are so proud of.
In November, a short story I wrote – a piece about Rio Rhythmics’ one-time cat – was published in an Australian journal of speculative fiction.
For me, dancing at Rio Rhythmics has been an exploration of what it is to be alive.
I’m still exploring.
Linda Brucesmith is a writer and public relations consultant. She has been dancing with Rio Rhythmics since 2003.
If you would like to give Latin dancing a go, register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org