There is Power in Stillness

It must have been the year 2000, and I was a freshman at Brigham Young University. It was my sixth year competing at the NDCA National Championships in Open Latin, and my third or fourth year dancing against Eugene Katsevman and Maria Manusova, who’s epic competitive career happened to span my entire amateur career… meaning I never really had any chance at that National Title I worked so hard to achieve. (Tangent- I remember dancing an open facing section of our Samba routine at the San Francisco Open one year and landing a spin just in time to watch my partner elbow Eugene right in the chin - this can be a dangerous sport!) This particular year I was cut prior to the Quarter Final round, and so I took my place in the stands where I always studied Eugene and Maria.

The full championship floor is close to 70 feet by 40 feet, and the Quarter Final had all 24 couples on the floor at the same time. These were the best of the best in the International Latin style from America, all in full rhinestone covered costumes and artistic hairstyles. Following the second dance of the event, the Samba, the Emcee skillfully buys a few precious seconds of rest for the dancers before inviting them to take their positions on the floor for the Rumba. This is a stationary dance, meaning it doesn’t travel around the floor, and conventional wisdom has always been to strategically place yourself on the edge of the dance floor, preferably near a corner to be able to draw the attention of the judges from both “fronts”, but Eugene walks directly to the center of the floor, and takes a strong Latin style second position. Maria is at least fifteen feet away from him in her own sexy pose returning his gaze with fierce intention.

As the music begins to play myself and my fellow BYU dancers only have eyes for Eugene and Maria. Around them are 23 other amazing couples, dancing their hearts out. Their choreography is no doubt dazzling, and they are executing tricks and stunts with insane precision… but Eugene and Maria are just standing still. Staring at each other, and we can’t do anything but watch them and wait.

Twenty seconds into the round and still nothing. You only get 70-80 seconds total, so when 30 seconds turns to 40 seconds and they still haven’t moved, every single eye in that crowd of over a thousand is on the edge of their seat at this amazing moment these masters have created. Just by standing still with intention. I don’t remember the rest of their routine, but they of course won the title again that year.

It was a powerful lesson for me. Later as I coached dancers that trusted their talents to my training I would often tell them, “I’ve never received a louder applause then when I just stood still.” There is power in your presence, and when you stand still with intention, it will shine. Don’t be afraid to let others witness you, exactly as you are!

Chad Brooks