Before I started studying seriously the art of ballroom dancing, my only experience was when my maternal grandmother taught me the waltz box pattern. I was a kid when this happened. I enjoyed learning this since I started to like romantic music back then. I didn’t go any further since I was interested in other things such as sports and playing with toys.
As years went by, my appreciation for classical music has grown immensely. In addition, the orchestrations of some current day music, especially cinema scores, are sublime. There came a point in time where I needed a change. There were many directions I could have taken to attempt to fulfill myself out of this situation. The strongest urge inside me was to learn how to waltz. It was a matter to get myself to a ballroom dance studio to start learning.
One of many things I had to overcome is being too shy to ask a lady to dance particularly when there is a conversation taking place. I consider myself a gentleman for not interrupting conversations so I don’t come across as rude. It was a matter of my instructors, many times, to push me to just go and ask. After all, they are there to dance.
There are many waltzes I enjoy today that are in different genres of music. A couple of examples are Anne Murray’s, “Could I Have this Dance,” and Journey’s, “Open Arms.” I want to share with you in more detail one I heard again recently from the First Act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “La Fanciulla del West,” where one of the miners offers the two major characters, Minnie and Mr. Johnson, a chance to waltz on the dance floor.
Mr. Johnson offers his arm to Minnie and asks to have the pleasure to dance with her. She confesses to him she has never danced.
After dancing, Minnie expresses to Mr. Johnson she doesn’t see herself in the compliments he gives her. She feels she has to touch the stars in order to get to him. Mr. Johnson responds by saying he experienced a joy and peace that he cannot describe (“Quello che tacete,”). Just before leaving, Mr. Johnson tells Minnie she doesn’t know her true worth: She is a good hearted woman and has the face of an angel.*
It does take time to learn the patterns and the floor craft skills to become a good dancer. Even good dancers get into bumps and accidents, but they can keep them at a minimum. I find ballroom dancing in its entirety a very beautiful experience. It is great exercise. It gives me a feeling inside that inspires passion that moves along with the music. In time, the experience can be shared with your dance partner.
* = Puccini, Giacomo. “La Fanciulla del West.” Deutsche Grammophon (1978). CD Cat: 419640. libretto, 96-119