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A lesson that Transcends Dance

How learning to dance changed me.

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I have always loved to dance; one of my earliest memories from about two years old that I verified as accurate with my mother before her passing was of me as a wee one dancing in front of a TV in my nappy.


I danced through a lot of my life. I even tried break dancing when it was all the rage in the 80's.


So when I saw some folks, many of whom became friends, doing West Coast Swing dancing, I was enamoured with the dance style.


West Coast Swing is a partner dance with roots in the Lindy Hop. It is characterized by an elastic look that results from its extension-compression technique of partner connection and is danced primarily in a slotted area on the dance floor. - wikipedia

Here's the challenge that I encountered. This all occurred post-transition.


Not only did I not have a partner, I had only danced the assumed male role in partner dancing, and none of it was a trained dancing style.


Thankfully, in the group I connected with, none of those issues were challenges as it was a mixed style of dance where you switch partners during class, so you get used to dancing with all sorts of folks. Anyone asks anyone in the open dance after class or at weekend events, so I could invite others to dance as much as I would be asked.


The lesson that transcended for me happened after about a year of classes. I was beyond the basics (although still working on them as they were not second nature for me yet), and it was getting technically challenging to learn the steps. The instructor approached me in class and did that day's steps, only to ask me to adjust my step to about 2/3 of my regular stride. I changed my steps, and I adapted the dance so that I fit into my partner, so we moved together as a couple when dancing.


You see, I had learned to adjust my looks, behaviours, and mannerisms and was working on my speaking voice, amongst other things. I never thought to change my stride. The gait of my stride was too large for the dance steps, so reducing it made it fit.


That adjustment, more so, the awareness of what my presence meant in all aspects, including the length of my stride, aided my comfort in being authentic in public.


That adjustment transcended into the way I walked and the speed at which I walked. Smaller steps and more of them resulted in a permanent new way to walk. Post gender confirmation surgery, all my healing adapted to this new shorter stride, so now I can not even go back to my old stride.


That lesson helped me see that most people are not living their authentic lives, which could mean in ways we don't even see. No one but me and my dance partners have noticed that my step has changed, but it means I can bring more of my authentic self to what I am doing. What's holding you back from being your authentic self?

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With over 25 years of experience in corporate and board leadership, including the past seven years focused on supporting the LGBTQ+ community and women's rights, I am available to speak, mentor, or consult for your next gender-related event. Please contact me at cynthiafortlage@cynthiafortlage.com with any inquiries.

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