“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Brene’ Brown
I saw the movie Strictly Ballroom and thought, holding my breath a little, that surely that was not a real thing. The seeds of excitement and possibility began to germinate. Ballroom dance studios must only exist in Hollywood and exotic places like Australia…but not here in the United States. Not now. Right?
Everything about that movie was campy and over the top, but the transformation that Fran goes through, as “Hollywood” as it was, was what I wanted to believe dance could do–totally take a caterpillar to butterfly by changing their focus, their perception of themselves and those around them. Give them the confidence and inspiration to become the radiant hero of their own story–and with sparkle and music and romance.
In the beginning, Fran is the typical frumpy introvert. She chooses her clothing to conceal her figure. She wears no make-up. Her frizzy hair is in a sloppy bun. She is bumped and buffeted on the studio floor as she is in life, run over by those with more confidence and stronger sense of self. Watching her is painful because we have all been her at some time in our life. Fran lives on the wings of the stage watching life through the curtains.
Critics might say she was always attractive, they just made her unattractive for the effect of the transformation, but isn’t that the point? Fran has no partner because she thinks she doesn’t deserve one. Who we and the other characters see when they look at Fran is a direct reflection of who she thinks she is. And the same is true of all of us. If we don’t feel worthy of attention or are afraid of negative reactions, we hide; we try to escape notice.
Fran is meek and quiet in the beginning, but as she begins to see herself as a dancer, she starts taking more care with her appearance. She finds an inner peace that begins to shine through her face, still shy, but beginning to blossom. She is starting to let her true self to show.
When Fran finds herself and her voice through dance, she surprises everyone, including herself. When she reaches the point that she feels herself worthy to compete with the others, Fran has become colorful, sensual, and flirtatious. It is miraculous. It is magical. It seems like a complete fiction and
the stuff of movies, but I have seen it happen time and again at the dance studio. When we feel beautiful, we are beautiful. When we feel worthy, we can take on anything with perseverance, passion, and effort. And when we let ourselves shine, we can begin to inspire others. Only through stepping out of the shadows and taking the risk of being hurt, of being mocked, of failing can we fulfill our potential.
And only when we do that can we truly help those around us do the same. And isn’t that what life is all about?