Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dancing with Disaster

I have always thought I was a good dancer. I was the co-captain of the drill team during my senior year in high school. I even took jazz dance classes twice during my first year in college back in 1991. I would dance my heart out. I did well...when I was by myself. Stick a partner in the mix and all hell breaks loose.

During winter quarter of 2014, my husband Nate and I took a ballroom dance course at the local community college. We have always wanted to take a dance class together. It was supposed to be a bonding experience but I think it was more like a battle of wills. I am not trying to make excuses by blaming my performance in the class on my disorder. Well, maybe I am...but just a little. People with bipolar disorder have issues with memory, concentration, and attention span. Add medication to the list and a person can become clumsy and foggy. That is not a good combination while performing on the dance floor. It can be painfully hard on the toes.

I am sure Nate was frustrated. Our conversations followed a theme. "Where are you going?" "Stop anticipating." "Stop trying to lead!" At first I thought that it was because we were just bad dancers. Within a short time, I found that it was not true. He danced fine. I was the problem. When we switched partners I frustrated the other guys in the class, too.

The criticism about my dancing ability was bestowed upon me rather harshly. Because we were struggling, every once in a while the instructors would pull us aside. The male instructor would coach me and Nate would dance with his wife. The same comments that my husband kept telling me were echoed by the dance instructor. One time we were singled out to demonstrate a move. The female instructor commented to the whole class, "It would help if the lady knew her part".

During an individual dance lesson with the instructor's wife, my husband apologized for not being very good partner. She responded by telling him, "It's not you, honey". She suggested that he dance with other partners; someone who knew what she was doing so he could learn how the moves were supposed to be done. He responded by enthusiastically telling her, "Thank you!" Our classmates within earshot laughed. He felt validated. 

In the end, we both got 4.0s in the class. I don't think we earned the grade because of our awesome ability as dancers. I believe that we got it because we tried our best and we showed up to every single class. Maybe they felt sorry for us. The reason why we scored so high does not matter. In the future, we may even take the class again. 

Who knows? I am on different medications this time. I am in a better place in my may help when we try again later. To this day, we still laugh about ballroom dance. I guess, in the end, it did turn out to be a bonding experience after all.
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