For those who do not know me too well, you probably are not aware that I love dancing. I haven’t danced much in my life, and I’ve never had any lessons or even attended a school dance that requires dancing with a partner. I like to think that I’ve been a closeted dancer. I secretly watch dance videos on YouTube or shows like World of Dance and practice the routines alone in my room. You know that common ice-breaker question: what is one thing you would change about yourself if you could? My (unspoken) answer has always been that I would give myself the ability to be a good and confident dancer. I was told before coming on this trip that we would have a dance workshop. I was nervous. I would have to dance in front of people instead of in my room, secluded. To make things worse (or better?), it turns out my host mother loves dancing and she told me and my roommate that we were going to go dancing on our family day. I was excited to go dancing and learn more about Brazilian culture but scared that my dreams of dancing would be crushed under embarrassment and two left feet.
Sunday night we went out dancing. My host mother, her boyfriend Armando, Sarah, and I all went to a Zouk club to dance. Zouk is an older dance that is a three-step, ballroom-type dance that is popular in Brazil. Thankfully, both my host mother and her boyfriend are good dancers and teachers. I danced with Armando as he patiently taught me the steps and helped me relax and just move with the music instead of being tense like a robot. After two hours of dancing and with the help of several teachers, I cannot say that I am a pro, but I learned a few dance moves and had fun doing it. From listening to the Zouk music to watching the master dancers, to having conversations with the other dancers, and to practicing my own dancing, it was definitely a night to remember. By the end of the night, one of the friends I had made said, “Now you are a Brasileira (Brazilian)!”
Even though I still feel like a closeted dancer, this trip gave me a chance to have a night full of fun and laughter all centered around dancing. The warm Brazilian culture made me feel comfortable with being a rookie dancer in a land where everyone has rhythm and can dance, according to my host mother. Every time I stepped incorrectly or started to spin the wrong way, the people I danced with were understanding and helped me find my rhythm again, my inner Brazilian. I could feel the environment of the room and the dancing infuse into me as I slowly became more accustomed to the dancing. I have not felt closer to Brazilian culture than that Sunday night. A new door has opened for me. I am hoping to go dancing again, and I plan to continue exploring the world of dance, even after I leave Brazil.