Waltzing with Anna
by Walter Galvez
“#WaltzingwithAnna” is one of the leading contenders in a series of wedding hashtags suggested by our friends, and now we’re a step closer to making that hashtag a reality. A few weeks ago, Anna and I started taking dance lessons in anticipation of our first dance on our wedding day. This was something I knew was coming since Anna said “Yes,” but it was still difficult to find the initiative to locate a dance studio and to start practicing. But now that we have started taking lessons together, it has been a great marriage preparation exercise for Anna and me as a couple.
I should mention that my knowledge of dance moves is very poor. Sure, my parents, who are from Colombia, taught me salsa and cumbia, but I haven’t practiced for years. Usually, I look like Frankenstein side stepping with my dance partner. Watching the show “Dancing with the Stars” has provided us some inspiration, but we don’t practice hours a day like the celebrities do.
Anna’s idea of dancing at her wedding is to feel swept off her feet. She wants to have fun in the way Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers used to dance, or even like Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez in the movie “Shall We Dance.” As for me, the only thing I’ve ever swept off its feet was my dog Gizmo while trying to sweep with a broom, so I knew this was going to be an uphill battle.
After some searching online, we found a professional dance studio that operates seven days a week. The instructor is the real deal – we think we’ve found our Jenifer Lopez! Except instead of looking like JLo, he looks more like an older Patrick Swayze, down to the piercing eye contact. Predictably, I need to work very hard to learn how to lead and establish a link between my brain and body. Anna is more of a natural, only making tweaks here and there to follow better.
During our lessons, we both get equal amounts of time dancing with each other and with the instructor. Yes, that means I spend about 15-20 minutes a week dancing with a grown man named Victor. Anna finds this hilarious and has kept evidence. As silly as it looks, the method works well, as it helps me process the mechanics and terminology of dance more fully.
Anna and I needed to practice outside of the studio. This means letting the other person practice the steps they need and not being quick to point out flaws. At times, each of us has really wanted to correct the other, and when that happens, the practice session is completely derailed. Our instructor Victor tells us to practice in five-minute intervals for 20 minutes with breaks set by a timer and reminds us not to criticize one another.
Learning a new skill together has been a good exercise in marriage preparation. It requires patience, understanding, flexibility, motivation, perseverance, and the ability to laugh at yourself. It also takes compromise. For example, sometimes Anna wants to keep dancing, but I’m tired and can’t process the steps anymore. So she’ll say, “Just one more song?” and I’ll say OK while she finds a Frank Sinatra song on YouTube.
So far we’ve learned Merengue, Foxtrot, and how to do basic turns and quarter turns. We also have a frame (posture) that sort of works. I am working on getting over my fear of stepping on Anna’s feet, while she has had to learn to let me lead her while walking backwards. But despite all the dance lessons, we still don’t have a wedding song picked out. As stressful and difficult as the dancing experience has been, it has also been a lot of fun and has given us a new hobby we hope to continue after we get married. This is huge for me because I expected to be miserable taking these lessons, but I’m actually having the time of my life (“Dirty Dancing” pun not intended).