Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to FEAR NOTHING! (Even Asking a Woman to Dance), by Michael Amato, a Dance Student

{When Michael Amato, a student at Florida's Boca Raton Fred Astaire Dance Studio, sent us his thoughts on the great new life he's built for himself since he began his dancing lessons, he thanked us for asking him to tell about it: "Writing these words," he said, "further validates my choices and makes me proud to tell my story so that it might inspire others: fellow students, to show them that it is truly worth the investment and the effort, and instructors and studio owners, to show them that their efforts are appreciated and life-changing for us." We thank you, Michael, for your thoughtful, kind words.]

Michael Amato today, 'walking a little taller.'

I've always been fascinated by dancing. Whenever I went out I would enjoy watching others and I wished I could dance like them. But, like many men, I felt intimidated by it and was afraid I'd embarrass myself if I tried it.
  That all changed in January, 2013, when I met a woman who was a student at Fred Astaire in Boca Raton, Florida. She invited me to attend a guest party and after putting it off, I finally went on Valentine’s Day.
It was there that I met my instructor, Mariya-Khristina Shurupova, and from that moment on, my life was transformed. One of the things that I realized was how much fun it was! It was a slow start but my determination (and eventually, my enthusiasm) drove me to learn. Once I learned the basics of smooth and rhythm dances, I was on my way!
  My private lessons with Mariya and my second instructor, Sayra Vasquez, were the most fun I've had in years. Group classes and dance parties I attended helped me reinforce what I was learning. Soon I was feeling confident and brave! Asking a woman to dance was no longer an exercise in rejection, but one of joy and acceptance. I made great friends with the students in the studio, especially the women! They enjoyed dancing with me, which did wonders for my self esteem and confidence.

Mariya-Khristina Shurupova, Pro, and Michael
(his 3rd month of lessons)

  Then the weight started coming off. I think that was the best effect, one I never imagined would happen. People at work and the studio began to notice the change, not only in my physical appearance but in my attitude and how I projected myself. I would talk to my customers, friends, and family about my experience and they would always comment on how enthusiastic I sounded!

May 2013: At the beginning, a lesson with Shurupova
  Of course, the question of cost would come up and I would always point out that for me, the benefits of dancing lessons far outweighed the expense. How many of us go out and buy expensive clothes or cars thinking that will change things and make our lives better? Material things are satisfying at first, but once the novelty wears off, what are we left with? Learning to dance is something that stays with you for your entire life. It's a community of people who have fun and love what they're doing. My enthusiasm for, and devotion to, the craft impresses those I've shared it with, and I'm extremely proud of that.
 In August, 2013, I competed in my first dance competition. I danced nine times: the Rhumba, Cha-Cha and East Coast Swing. I was extremely nervous leading up to the first dance but just like my instructors told me, once the music started, the butterflies disappeared, and I danced with confidence, enjoying every minute! I placed first in seven dances and second in two, and I was hooked!
 The next big event was dancing in a production number at our showcase event in November. The rehearsals were a lot of fun and dancing in front of 350 people in the studio was more satisfying and enjoyable than I could have imagined. I'm looking forward to the next one with great anticipation, and I will dance with one of my instructors.
  What have I learned from this? FEAR NOTHING! Life is short, and I've wasted too many years wishing and hoping for something to come into my life that would make a positive difference. I've been a widower for the past 13 years and my wife loved to dance, so I can only imagine that wherever her spirit is, she's watching and smiling at me!
  Now that I've learned to dance I enjoy going to local ballrooms, knowing that I can ask a woman to dance and feel confident enough to carry myself on the floor. The proof of that was being asked to dance by women who saw me on the floor and wanted to dance with me! I find myself walking a little taller, with my head up, and filled with a feeling of accomplishment which carries over into my job. My only regret was not starting sooner, but fate and destiny made this moment the perfect time.
  The attached pictures reflect the changes in my appearance (backwards, actually). The third was taken during a lesson with Mariya back in May at 245 pounds! The second is with Mariya in August at the competition. The first was taken this week: now 215 pounds! The last picture is of the custom plate I had made for my car to express my new-found passion.

 The journey of the rest of my life has started and I'm off on the right foot (or should I say the left foot LOL!) I don't know where it will lead me, but I know I'll enjoy the trip. The next thing would be to find the right partner to share this with, and thanks to my new found dancing skills, I know she will be the next love of my life.

Appreciatively yours,

Michael Amato  



Bonnie Bergman said...

Ditto for me!! I've lost 40 lbs and started the same week as you Michael. It has changed my life as well.. Bonnie Bergman

Anonymous said...

Excellent article! There are many of us who have had similar experiences but you expressed them so well.

And, you will find that special someone in the future to share your love of dancing. I have confidence in you Michael!