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A Column To Help Dancers Journey In Life

By Susan Silva


There is a place in all of us that can be touched in a very deep way, either positively or negatively.  For most of us we have experienced both spectrums.  This place is what many people call our soul.  What is the soul?  The simplest definition I have found is described as where our deepest emotions are lodged inside of us.  A Biblical description of a soul tells us that we are a three part being, we live in a body, have a soul which is where our mind, will and emotions lodge, and we have a spirit where we can get in touch with God.  Dancing from your soul takes being able to open up our inner being and to get in touch with our feelings.  This is not always easy, and many times people do not want to do this because of what is called soul wounds.  I will talk more about this at the end of this article.

Music is a key to making the ballroom dance come alive and have feeling.  I realize that in competition we do not pick our own music, so it becomes more difficult if the music itself has no soul.  But when we have music that is meaningful, the dancer has an opportunity in what I call “becoming the music”, and dancing from their soul.  Unfortunately even the best dancers sometimes do not get in touch with their soul, their partners, and the music. We can get so caught up in all the technical aspects and body movements that we no longer give our soul to the dance we are doing.  When watching couples dance and even in judging, what is it that stands out the most from a couple?  To me it is their relationship to each other and the music.  Each partner must relate to the other from their soul in order to draw the audience in.  In the recent Dancing With The Stars television show, Maks and Meryl won, but more important they danced from their souls and drew the audience into their dancing.  Partners, who dance this way, make themselves vulnerable to each other, allowing their feelings to also dance.

To put this into a simpler perspective I will give two examples from other than dance.  My late cousin, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, gave this example in one of his commentaries: “a poor man walks in, and two people give him a dollar.  If you look at them from the outside, they both did the same thing.    But if you look very deep, one gave a dollar and one gave everything there is.  Sometimes two different people shake your hand.  One person shook your hand, and the other person shook your soul.”

In Ballroom Dancing two different couples are on the floor competing, and they both did the same movements.  But if you look very deep they are very different, because one couple danced the movement from their innermost souls.  To dance from your soul you must perform more than just the steps; listen to more than the music playing.  You must listen to your heart expression and let your soul dance.  Dancing from that place is what really makes a great dancer.  

Recently I was coaching a number of pro-am students getting ready for a competition.  The one thing that stood out in all of the women dancers was that they were not dancing in touch with the music or their teacher.  The students were so nervous about their steps, and placement, there was no feeling in their dancing at all.  Of course we need technique, posture, correct placement in dance positions, but I find that many teachers lose track of why a person wants to dance.  Every ballroom dance has a soul, a feeling that needs to be taught not just the technique.  As I began to get the students to relax and focus on the particular feeling of the dance, the music came alive, they enjoyed themselves more, and they began to dance from their souls.

Soul wounds can affect your entire life and your dancing.  You might be asking, “what are soul wounds, and how do they happen?  There are many ways that soul wounds occur.  Any painful event can wound you, and can also affect your physical health.  Doctors have reported that 80% of disease comes through a traumatic event.  Some examples are being rejected either in childhood, or as an adult, this could be through a personal relationship or even as a dancer.  A long-term illness or an accident can leave a soul wound.  Abuse of any kind, physical or verbal when not dealt with leaves a soul wound.  

In my own life here are two examples.  I can remember that when I was nine years old and on scholarship in NYC at a famous ballet school being told that my back was not strong enough to do point.  My dream was to be a ballerina, but that stopped right then and there.  Years later I realized I had a soul wound of rejection and hurt deep inside which needed healed.  My healing came as I acknowledged this feeling, let it go, and let go of the resentment I had toward my ballet teacher.  I then needed to replace it with a positive attitude focusing on what I was able to accomplish in my dancing.  Looking back I realized that all my ballet training helped me in becoming a ballroom theatrical champion.  

I have also experienced illness that affected my soul.  I became ill in 2003, misdiagnosed for two years and wound up in a wheel chair.  Finally after seeing tons of doctors I found out it was post-lyme, and it had gone into my immune system.  I thought I would never dance again, but through faith, prayer, and the right treatments I did dance again in 2007.  I danced to a piece of music that was very special to me.  I had listened to it over and over for a period of time, and dreamt of dancing to it.  As I became stronger physically I choreographed this piece of music together with a ballroom teacher I knew, and we finally danced it at an event.  This healed my soul wound.  It says in the book of Psalms, “God turns your mourning into dancing.”  You can heal soul wounds through the art of ballroom dance, and especially through music that means something to you.  If any of you reading this article realize that you need help with a soul wound that is affecting your ballroom dancing, feel free to get in touch with me.

I encourage you to get closer to yourself, to the deepest depths of you and Dance From Your Soul!

Susan Silva is an NDCA National Championship Certified Adjudicator in all styles of Ballroom Dance plus the Performing Arts.  Former Theatrical, Exhibition, and American Style Champion.  Broadway, Television, and Film Performer, toured with the Beatles in the mid 60’s, Author of a Theatrical Ballroom Syllabus, Choreographer & Lecturer.  Available for judging, lectures, choreography, and coaching.  Susan is also a Personal Dance Life Coach, certified and ordained to council people in all areas of life. For questions or Contact Info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., phone: 860-984-8387

Emerald Ball 2014 Open Professional American Rhythm

By Carolina Orlovsky-Telona and Felipe Telona Jr.
Photos by Mary Tweeddale (unless marked)

It is always a daunting task and yet wonderful honor to be asked to share our views on a competitive event.

Professional Rhythm at Wisconsin State Report by Kimberley Mitchell
Photos by Park West 1. Andre & Natalie Paramonov.  A wonderful couple that tried too hard for me tonight. I would love to see them dance with the ease and the rhythmic ability I know they have and not show how hard they have to work to win. I look forward to seeing Andrey and Natalie's improvement in the next few months.

Emerald Ball Professional Open Latin Report By Delyan Terziev
Photos by Mary Tweeddale Looking out onto this very impressive ballroom, one can’t help but be awestruck by the pronounced screen projecting the highlights of the evening.  The Professional Latin competition at the Emerald Ball was definitely an enjoyable yet intense event.  

Feeling “Happy” in Milwaukee!
Wisconsin State 2014 Report by Keith Todd
Action Photos by Park West Pharrell Williams smash hit “Happy” was the unofficial theme song of this year’s Wisconsin State Dancesport Championships.  It was used in a hilarious video with mock interviews that was screened at the start of Saturday night and also to introduce the judges in an impromptu “dance on” (we still haven’t forgiven you for that one Dan!). 

Emerald Ball Professional Cabaret Report by Edward Simon
Photos by Mary Tweeddale This year was the 25th anniversary of the Emerald Ball Championships, and seemed the most successful one yet! Congrats to Wayne and Donna and staff!

The Kiwi Classic … Wow!!  Report by Dennis & Jackie Rogers
Photos by Point View Photography If there was ever a destination competition, this would surely be one of the top locations!  Auckland, New Zealand is an incredible location. 

Professional Ballroom at Emerald Ball Report by Maria Hansen
Photos by Mary Tweeddale The Emerald Ball celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and Wayne and Donna Eng went all out to put on a spectacular event! The ballroom had just been remodeled and looked absolutely beautiful and with over 13,000 entries, the atmosphere was electric but still very friendly and warm.

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