craigmeltznerWhat We Believe: Craig Meltzner

I believe participatory dance and song is a cure for shyness.

Nearly one of two Americans claims to be shy. I was a shy adolescent, particularly in social settings. During high school I never dated nor attended a school dance. I couldn’t imagine asking a girl to dance or singing as part of a group.

Fast forward — for the past 25 years, I’ve been an avid contra and English Country dancer. Now it’s the easiest thing in the world to walk up to a stranger and ask if s/he’d like to dance. Most of the time, of course, the answer is “yes”. And if the answer is “sorry”, I don’t feel rejected, I just move on to the next person! I relish joining a song circle at camp get-togethers or workshops. It’s wonderful to feel included and connected, whether at my home dance or someplace new.

As experienced dancers, we have the opportunity to help newcomers overcome their shyness and anxiety. Think about it – it’s got to be hard for a new dancer to show up, process all the information offered, and be handed-off from stranger to stranger. We can welcome, encourage, and support new dancers! A smile, an invitation to dance, can break through most people’s shyness. Let’s help them feel good about the decision to show up and participate. We want them to come back!

Thirty years ago, I overcame my shyness to ask the woman next to me in the international folk dance class on a date. She’s still my favorite dance partner (and my wife of 25 years)!