Author: Grigol Kranz
Written by Amy E. Call
Why do we do what we do? Our every behavior is motivated by meeting a particular need. When we have our basic needs met, we have healthy lives. However, decades of psychological and sociological studies demonstrate that we also have human needs. Unlike animals, when we have these needs met, we have fulfilling lives. By being aware of the 6 needs that help us all feel fulfilled in our lives, we can better understand others, and their true motivations. This understanding helps us build stronger relationships at home and at work. Interestingly, as a professional ballroom dancer and teacher, I have uncovered these greater benefits of dance, and how dance can help people meet all 6 human needs, which are; certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth, and contribution. With this multifaceted benefit in mind, couples and companies are now using Ballroom Dance as an activity for personal and professional development. Below is a description of how it works, and why your next retreat may have “2-Step” on the agenda instead of “Trust Fall”.
Humans seek certainty, which is the need to feel secure and that we are in control. Ballroom Dance requires the collaboration of two people: One person initiates, and the other responds. When we initiate a step, our partner can respond in various ways: entrusting us with control by following the lead, adding on to the step initiated, or doing nothing. In this role, it’s our turn to choose the direction we will go together. This gives the initiator the feeling of control.
Variety is the need to experience novelty and adventure. As a responder, we take on the role of following, or responding to, the initiator. In this role, we let go of control and are surprised by each step. This creates a sense of
adventure and, more importantly, we feel a sense of risk because, as with anything new, there is a chance of failure: you may fall, miss a step, or you may not yet trust your partner.
Significance is the need to have a sense of importance, and pride in ourselves. As we learn to dance, we are creating a partnership with another person. In order to dance, it takes 2 people. They must work together in order to be successful, making each person feel needed and important. As we present ourselves and our partnership to others, we feel a sense of pride in ourselves and the partnership we’ve achieved. Also, Ballroom Dance is an art form. It creates beauty for the audience to enjoy. As dancers, both people feel a sense of pride in being a moving work of art, especially when they remember feeling as if they had two left feet when they first began.
Connection is the need for communication and to feel connected and united with others. Ballroom dance is a communication between 2 people. The initiator and the responder must learn to adjust to each other, to look out for each other, and let the other serve their role. As the music changes, as the path of dance changes, or if someone makes a mistake, partners must collaborate in order to keep dancing. They both feel connected to the other person because they are both supporting and depending on each other throughout the dance.
Growth is the need for constant progress: emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. As we learn dance skills, we learn steps, how to follow the music, and how to be a good partner. We take on an unfamiliar role that is beyond our comfort zone, which challenges us to learn about ourselves and gain a new perspective. We watch ourselves get better in time. We see our abilities as a partner and dancer improve overtime, acknowledging our progress. This gives us a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
Contribution is the need to give to others and to add value to others. Ballroom dance is about doing something that is bigger than ourselves. We are learning, improving, and practicing so that we can execute a dance or perform for an
audience. We are a part of a show that would otherwise not be possible if we weren’t participating. Along with the music, costumes, decor, and other performers, we become a part of a visual art in motion, a spectacle for others to enjoy. This helps us feel that we contributed to others’ lives.