How dancing taught me to get out of my comfort zone

As a communication coach, I remind my clients that growth happens when we step out of our comfort zone. When we strive to do something that isn’t easy, scary, or both. On July 29, 2022, I did just that when I entered my first ballroom dancing competition. Mind you, when I started taking lessons, I had no intention of competing. It took a lot of insistence from my dance teacher before I said yes.

My passion for ballroom dancing comes from ABC’s hit show, “Dancing with the Stars”. I like the elegance, the choreography and the beautiful movement of the bodies. I also love the personal transformation that candidates go through by pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.

Before becoming a Certified Professional Coach, I was an award-winning news anchor. I’ve covered many world events and interviewed many top executives and celebrities, including Tony Dovolani, one of my favorite professional dancers on DWTS. Not only did I interview him, but he also taught me a 30-second tango. Dancing with a champ like Tony was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I swore that day that one day I would take lessons. That day came last summer.

I started private lessons with Andriy Vitenko from Ukraine. From day one we hit it off, but I quickly realized how difficult learning ballroom is. I’m a musician, but I’ve always struggled with rhythm and remembering steps. When I coach clients, I encourage them to practice speaking out loud because of the muscle memory that occurs from the brain to the mouth. However, the message from my brain to my feet was taking much longer. Granted, it has to travel all 5’7” of me, as opposed to the four inches from my brain to my mouth.

Whenever Andriyl mentioned entering a competition, I always said “no, I wasn’t interested”, and yet, after weeks of gentle pressure, he convinced me. I assumed I was a beginner, but Andriyl suggested I was ready for the pre-silver and silver categories by doing four different choreographed routines for each dance style; cha cha, rumba, swing and mambo. I rented a nice costume, did my own stage makeup – luckily, I knew how to do it – and one of my studio teachers got my hair done in the proper style for my Latin dances.

I was excited and nervous at the same time. I barely remember anything from the first round – the pre-silver category – but it was a good warm-up for the silver category. I had so much fun! More than I expected. Why? Besides the fact that I like to perform and that I am also a competitive person, I was really proud of myself for having learned something new. For stepping out of my comfort zone.

Later in the day, I discovered that I was first in five of my eight dances and second in three others. It was just the icing on the cake. I intend to continue with my new hobby. Until next time, Bolero!

Colleen D. Ervin