Every Tuesday and Thursday after work, a dozen RSMAS scientists gather in the Commons, chanting, laughing and dancing. It sounds unlikely that salsa could find its place in a building of science. For me, salsa has been a quite affordable luxury I reward myself after a day of lab work.
I started dancing salsa about a month after joining RSMAS as a graduate student. Although I always enjoyed watching dance performances, I had never thought of being part of this graceful and exciting art. Worried about being too clumsy, I asked Brent, the salsa instructor, “I have never danced before. How should I get prepared for the class?”
“You need to have shoes and legs and you will be fine!” He answered cheerfully, “First you are a mover, then a shaker; then you blossom into a dancer!”
Now, after dancing with my fellow scientists for almost two years, I have been promoted to Brent’s teaching assistant. Although I don’t have to worry about being clumsy any more, my excitement and curiosity about dancing salsa have never faded. Things I learn from the salsa class are far beyond memorizing complicated move combinations. People join the dance with different styles and personalities. Some are flashy and confident; others are gentle and moderate. The essential part of salsa dance is not about showing off one’s own strength and skills, but about understanding one’s partner and building the connection. Good dancers can make themselves look good; great dancers can make their partners look good.
It is probably this unique aspect of salsa that makes the class a group of good friends. Everyone is willing to share thoughts and help others improve. As a result, the class is progressing very fast. At the beginning of the second semester, March 2nd, we had a group performance at the Magic City Casino.
“We are probably the most intelligent dancers,” I once joked with my classmates. After all, nobody is too smart to dance.
This blog post is part of a series of stories written by RSMAS graduate students enrolled in the Spring 2012 Scientific Communications (RSM 545) course.
PhD student – Meteorology & Physical Oceanography
Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
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