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The news was not good.

The shy dancer had lost her dance partner to the rushing tide of life.

Before being pulled-away-by-other-things, Mary-the-Magnificent had boosted the shy dancer’s confidence by inviting her into a zouk choreography. “You want to lead ME?” the shy dancer asked at the time. “I think you’ve mixed me up with someone else. Are you sure you haven’t mixed me up with someone else?”

Apparently not.

And so, the shy dancer put her best (albeit shaky) foot forward. She would dance (and perform) with Mary, a Rio Rhythmics instructor…
She attended training sessions.

She practised alone with Mary in a small studio, surrounded by a very large (and revealing) mirror, costumes, a sound system, and dance-work papers on a desk. There was a sink. And a fridge. (Handy for treating hot-and-bothered shy dancers.) Mary’s thoughtful guidance helped the shy dancer understand: if she was ever to dance to her ability, she would need to let her guard down. To OPEN. (As in life.) She would need to trust herself. (Which she didn’t, really. Not very much.)

The shy dancer experimented with new dance ideas. She tossed aside her thinking self and took the music in, like breath. She dropped the weight from her shoulders and freed her body to feel all the delicate details in Mary’s lead. For minutes at a time she followed as sweetly as a flower.

When she wasn’t working in the small studio with Mary, the shy dancer was practising alone in her lounge-room with her phone, dancing to the video she had made of the choreography and working to understand its bits. The solo sessions helped imprint sequences into her muscle memory: her legs were quick learners, while her arms were badly behaved. After one (particularly sweaty) solo session she looked to the light bulb flashing over her head and remembered, brightly, WHY she loved dancing. It was for all the sharing. For all the little miracles she enjoyed each time she followed a leader in salsa, zouk, gafieira, bachata, merengue, and bolero.

The shy dancer went to the next group choreography session alone-without-Mary and joined the other followers-without-leaders. She watched them dance-alone. Danced-alone herself, for a bit. When the class changed partners she danced briefly with other leaders and decided she had improved a little (even if she did say so herself.) Then, another light bulb moment. Just as she had realised dancing-solo wasn’t for her, she now realised dancing-to-be seen wasn’t (really) for her, either. In thinking she might perform-with-Mary, she’d forgotten dancing was (for her) about having a quiet heart. (Her quiet heart didn’t like spotlights very much.)

She wondered whether she had made a fool of herself. Wondered whether she would make a fool of herself if she withdrew from her almost-performance.

There was only one way to find out.

And so the shy dancer quietly resigned from Juliana and Rafael’s zouk choreography course, and (delightedly) stepped back into her (beloved) role as a Rio Rhythmics Student Supporter.

Where she now expects to live permanently. Happily ever after.

This shy dancer (a.k.a. Linda Brucesmith) bravely (and briefly) enrolled in Juliana and Rafael’s zouk choreography course and didn’t perform at Rio Rhythmics’ 25th Anniversary Ball on June 29. She had discovered she was happy. Just as she is.

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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