I was there to meet him as my new dance instructor and training partner in a fundraising show for hospice. Me, dancing? Good grief.
The perennial wallflower who never sets foot on a dance floor was about to step smack dab in the middle of a very public one after agreeing to dance in a popular community event called “Swinging with the Stars.” The very notion of it gave me the jitters. But it also made me feel more alive, and that’s how I knew I was doing the right thing.
“Anyone can learn to dance,” Warren assured me. “Anyone.”
Turns out, 17 years earlier, this incredibly talented dancer was one of the “anyones” he was referring to.
Not the least bit interested in dance at the age of 20, he happened to notice a help wanted ad looking for dance instructors. It wasn’t the job that caught his eye. It was the subheading in the ad: no experience required.
“I thought that was weird,” said Warren. “How could they be hiring dance instructors who didn’t know how to dance? It didn’t make any sense to me.”
After seeing the ad a few more times he decided to call the number out of curiosity. Once he hung up the phone he took a giant leap of faith and decided to sign up.
He quit his construction job and started an intense full time, two and a half month instructional program that taught him, one other fellow, and a room full of ladies, how to dance and teach others to dance.
“I had to survive without a paycheque for a while – so that was rough,” he said. “But I also didn’t have to pay for the course, so it was a great opportunity.” Not knowing what to expect, he figured he’d meet some nice girls at the very least.
To his and his family’s surprise, he discovered that he loved to dance. His newfound passion directed him to a fork in the road that he never would have imagined for himself.
After completing the program and instructing for six years, he decided to take his skills to a whole other level. Packing up, he moved to London, England where he trained for the next five years at the world’s top latin ballroom dance school.
Back in Canada with his own dance studio, he has been instructing grateful students like me.
Why am I so grateful? Because he took my two left feet and magically made one of them right in just 15 lessons. He also helped me get over my intense fear of performing in front of an audience.
Terrified to do our routine in front of even the small group of people at our recent dress rehearsal, I was somehow okay two nights later performing it in front of the large, elegant audience at the main event.
Not only did I get through it with a huge smile on my face, but I had the time of my life doing it. No kidding – the time of my life.
Warren Eaton was right: anyone can learn to dance. Anyone can learn to do just about anything – no experience required.
(To view us dancing together, please check out the video clip below. The tongue action at the end happened because I thought one of the judges was about to quote from my article “Note to self: keep tongue in mouth.” He didn’t and quoted from another article all together. Oops. I’m such a freak.)
To view the video clip of Lori Welbourne and Warren Eaton in Swinging with the Stars 2010 click here.