Overcoming fears

Crushona was not feeling comfortable. I could tell from her body language - arms crossed like she was trying to shrink into herself, sometimes covering her face with her hands - that she was feeling freaked out at the possibility of having to dance. I'm sure it was extra nerve racking because she was a new student. Everyone else in class had been with each other since the beginning of the school year and had three dance classes already, but it was her first day. We had been working gradually up to our closed position ballroom hold, and I was confident that the other students would be able to handle it. But Crushona was a wild card - she had another adult helper specifically with her in the class, and seemed to be legitimately frightened.
When it came time to introduce closed position, I thought to myself, "Well, we'll see... Maybe she'll just need to take a break." In between talking to students I tried to casually mention to our classroom teacher that if new students were having a hard time it would be okay to go easy on them. But then when I asked for a volunteer to help me demonstrate, Crushona raised her hand! With a little coaxing, she got up in front of the entire class. I talked her through the closed position and she did a great job; she was even able to follow me though a salsa basic! And best of all, the entire class cheered and clapped for her without any prompting from me. What a great confidence boost! She was smiling as she went back to join the circle.
The rest of class wasn't perfect, she still needed a little encouragement sometimes to get into closed position with some of the gentlemen. But compared to where she was at the beginning of class, she made a huge leap forward. I was so proud of her and so grateful to have been a part of that experience. Moments like these are why I love teaching for Dancing With Class and why I believe so passionately that dance can make a positive change in people's lives.