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Starters: The excellent adventures of a student supporter (SSP) – Chapter 8

This Student Supporter has been twinkled (once again) by (another) Latin dance starter class. Partly, by the Brazilian magic of the instructor (Tarcisio), but mostly, (this time) by all the brave-and-beautiful, just-starting-out dancers.

You: listened to the music + stepped to the music + led with your frame (independently of your feet) + followed your leaders (without anticipating) + controlled your nerves + held it all together when someone TALKED to you while you were listening and stepping and leading and following and controlling your nerves and holding it all together (all at the same time.)

You started SO quietly. (Everyone avoiding attention.) (You’d never experienced anything Brazilian, before.) And then you said, “Ohhh…” (softly) when Tarcisio spoke about old Brazilian men who danced with the help of their canes and “Ahhh…” (a little less softly) when Tarcisio told you about dancing with his mother, (aged ninety-nine) still living in Brazil. You changed partners and introduced yourselves and chatted a bit (“Don’t look at the floor,” said Tarcisio, for the millionth time in his dance life) and THEN, after you’d changed partners a few times, a follower SKIPPED from one leader to the next. (“Here I am!” another told me joyfully.)

When Tarcisio stepped “two-to-here and two-to-there” and said “Dois Pra Lá, Dois Pra Cá” and asked you to repeat the Portuguese after him, you did it. (With gusto.) At the end of the class I looked at your faces again, this time as Tarcisio read the notices. (You were smiling your heads off.)

Ah, dance memories. This SSP remembers how (as a long-ago dancer in a Rio Rhythmics starter class) she TRIPPED her leader and CAUGHT him (under the armpits) to save him from falling. She remembers how (many classes later) (with a dictionary of learnings under her belt) she stumbled into an imaginary hole-in-the-floor and fell, flat as a carpet.

She remembers discovering Brazilian hugs. She remembers the day she realised she could straightaway tell the difference between music of forro, bachata, bolero, zouk, salsa, samba, and tango. And she remembers how every single dance starter class she has ever supported has sent her home with her heart dancing on air.

So. As a new dancer, you (hopefully) think your Student Supporter has helped put you on the right foot. The truth is, being there to see you take your first-ever dance steps is quite the most gobsmackingly wonderful thing. The privilege is your SSP’s.

Bouquets to you all.


Linda Brucesmith is a writer and public relations consultant based in Brisbane. She managed Rio Rhythmics’ marketing from 2003-2008 and has danced with the Academy ever since.

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