If Your Job In Life Is To Dance, Just Dance! – By Tatum Cochrane

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On my personal blog, I occasionally get guest writers to contribute an article . A friend of mine recently wrote an article for my blog, but I liked it so much I decided to share it with all of you.


~Contributed by Tatum Cochrane (pictured below)~

Tatum Cochrance

“If your job in your life is to dance – just dance.”

Quote from Elizabeth Gilbert

One night at a Salsa social I was dancing with a partner and he looked up at me and said, “You okay, you look like you’re in pain?” I was – I was suffering from major brain pain… I was counting, and feeling and watching and placing and thinking, cause I was practicing “self-awareness”.

All this chaos was happening in my head while I was dancing. I could hear the music less and less and I was disconnected from my partner.  Through the haze I was not dancing anymore. And.. and… and… and… AND IT WAS EXHAUSTING. As the wheel spun it brought about so much unhappiness that for my love of dance, I made a conscious decision to quit Salsa and find my passion for dance again.

This was by far the best decision I made for my dancing.

The sabbatical took me to other dance forms and experiences. I took up Contemporary and African Dance, and I joined Zumba classes to just move and be silly with girlfriends. I started experimenting and doing things my way. I would practice styling to Pearl Jam and Skunk Anansie, and I started understanding individual style. Then one day that feeling came back.  I started to feel that ecstasy blazing through my body again and I got lost in the joy of it.

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I returned to Salsa. I wanted to master getting that euphoric feeling in a partner dance. This time around I even got a private teacher for  lessons once a week. And then finally after 2 months of private lessons, and 6 years of Salsa – it happened. I danced without the “crazy” filling my head. My love had rekindled.

Shortly into my new-found confidence I stumbled onto a controversial article that stated that due to a lack of self-awareness social dancers were killing the Salsa social scene.

This article made me angry, protective, hurt, and it took me back to a place of confusion. Its tone was exactly why I fell out of love with Salsa in the first place. The daunting question surfaced once more, was I ever going to be good enough?!?

As an empath I pride myself in the ability to self-actualize. The process usually goes like this “A feeling just happened, let’s thrash this out and get to the bottom of this – why, where and who is connected to this feeling and why did it happen?”

Self-actualization by my very nature is something I do effortlessly… then why did it take me years to get to any sort of “good comfort level” in Salsa? And in other dance forms I always feel good about the dance and myself. My inner voice again questioned, “I love you Salsa, why can’t you love me back?”

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Months after the “self-awareness” article I couldn’t stop thinking about it because of my own strife and determination. I couldn’t accept that “succeeding” or “improving” in partner dance was because of a lack of self-awareness. Aren’t we all a recreation of our influences and inspiration? What if our main influence didn’t emphasize the important of self-awareness? This statement of self-sabotaging seemed too easy. Cause if you know better, surely you do better?

Then I stumbled upon TED Talks by writer Elizabeth Gilbert entitled, “Your elusive creative genius” and “Success, failure and drive to keep creating”.  An insight and a different perspective washed over me and I made peace with Salsa. For good this time.

Below are the concluding remarks to Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “Your elusive creative genius” TED Talk if you don’t wish to watch the full presentation above.

“And what I have to sort of keep telling myself when I get really psyched out about that, is don’t be afraid. Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then “Olé!” And if not, do your dance anyhow. And “Olé!” to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. “Olé!” to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.”

Tatum Cochrance3Whereas before I would see Salsa as something that needs to be “conquered” or “perfected”. I now see dancing as one’s personal portfolio. The process is about collecting and growing sometimes without even realizing.  It’s an exploration and one that becomes so much more as you venture into it. My conclusion to becoming more self-aware is sometimes you have no idea when the seeds were planted but carry on because one day you will feel the buds bloom as you walk passed them on your journey. That is way more important than “conquering a dance” or “getting it right”. What is more important is that you loved it enough to always show up.


And once again Salsa has taught me more about myself through the dance, and this is how it loves me back.

**The End**

1 Comment

  • Vin says:

    I agree with you. Everyone is at their own stage of awareness, and it isn’t helpful to shame one another from self-expression. If dance floors were only occupied by the especially self-aware, most salsa clubs, and congresses for that matter, wouldn’t be in business. And that would kill the salsa scene.

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