When everybody's telling you're not good enough

Until the age of 24 I didn't have any interest in any kind of dancing. But I felt pressured to learn how to dance only for the occasions like weddings. So in 1997. I took a course in social dancing. It lasted 3 months, and I thought I was doing fine - but at the end of the course I felt I still couldn't dance well. We were only taught some basic figures, but nothing about leading/following, technique, improvisation... The only way to improve (since 3 months course was the only thing offered for social dancers) was to start competitive dancing.

Like finding a partner wasn't hard enough, I was often discouraged by dance instructors, friends and acquaintances. Many of them told me I was hopeless (in a more polite way), and that I have nothing to do in dancesport, especially not so soon after finishing 3 months course.

But I was stubborn enough - I found myself a partner and started practising and taking lessons. Since we were begginers, coaches in our club didn't even bother to work with us - we were given lessons from some B class competitor for almost a year.

After some time I became the victim of rumours. Some people started telling my partner he was too good for me ...and he broke up with me, to start dancing with more talented beginner. I cried and felt horrible. I wanted to know who were these people who separated me from my partner of almost two years, but he didn't want to tell me their names - he only said I'd be surprised, because I considered some of them to be my friends. I didn't know who to trust anymore. People were telling me they're so sorry we split and I wondered if these were the same ones who were telling how awful I was behind my back.

It was very hard to find new partner. I was C class, but I was happy to start all over again with a begginer. Coaches were full of praises for him...and again, they wouldn't tell anything about me. Well, nothing I could hear.Other people constantly reminded me of my lack of talent. One of my friends said he never thought I'll make it to the C class. When I made it, he said- "But you'll never win first place, of course." When I did that too, he said he couldn't imagine me dancing in open class.

I did make it to the open class though, but as soon we got new routines, and before our first B class competition my partner got injured and quit dancing. I was 29 at the time, dancing basic for the last 4 years, with very small chances to find B or A class partner. To find ANY partner at all.

I had a try-out or two, but no luck. I also put my add on the web...and after 4 months I got a letter from A level dancer living 4000km away. He didn't mind my lack of experience, and said he wanted to dance with me! I couldn't believe my luck! He came to my country, and now, after all these years, I have great partner who believes in me.

I know I must work hard, and still feel insecure about my dancing abilities - but most important is that I enjoy dancing. We don't have to be state, or Europe, or world champions. There will always be mean people saying bad things about us, but I know I should not pay any attention to them.

Maybe you want to know what happened to my first, very promising partner? His next partner quit, and the third one found someone better. He's not dancing anymore. In fact, many of the people that were critising me quit dancing long time ago.

And what about me? Today I'm 30, and enjoy dancing like never before!

Martina Pavic krkljanac2@yahoo.com

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