Lydia Raurell has always loved to dance. Like so many little girls, she dreamed of becoming a fairy ballerina. When she was chosen to perform in the children’s Corps de Ballet it seemed that her dream might come true, but after two years her dance instructor said that her bone structure was too fragile to go into pointe and her parents refused to pay for additional lessons.
Raurell didn’t return to dance until her late twenties, when she ran across an advertisement from a dance studio that offered a free Tango lesson. Although she couldn’t afford additional lessons, that free introduction to Tango rekindled her passion for dance. It took another ten years before she returned to that very same studio, finally able to afford lessons. She threw herself headlong into the world of dance, but at the end of a year realized that her life was out of balance – she had gone back to college to pursue the degree she’d never completed and both her studies and her family were suffering from lack of attention. Again she walked away. Little did she know it would be many years before she had another opportunity to pursue her lifelong passion.
Twenty danceless years later, at age 54, Raurell picked up the local paper and read an ad that said “Walk in Monday, dance out Friday.” By that time, her life had changed immensely. Raurell’s son was raised, her home paid off, and sheÂ had the support of a loving husband who encouraged her to fulfill her dream. She thought, “Why not?” That same day she made an appointment with Angelo Caruso, the studio owner and teacher who would reshape her life. At the end of the lesson, Raurell was hooked; she signed up for a whole regimen of classes.
Three months after that first lesson, Caruso talked Raurell into entering a local dance competition where, to her surprise, she won the award for Top Student. Raurell was aready well on her way to dancing addiction but that first prize pushed her over the top. For the next year, Caruso and Raurell danced their way through competitions across the country, racking up enough points for her to be named Top Female Student in the NDCA DanceSport Series – sort of a world series for pro/am dancers.
Not only is Raurell’s new book, A Year of Dancing Dangerously, an intriguing look at the world of ballroom dancing, examining everything from the way ballroom gowns are made to the intricate rules for the sport, it is also a testament to the positive effects of living your joy. She puts it most succinctly, when she says: “At a certain season in our lives we realize that our time may be running out. For me…I realized there could be no more waiting.” Raurell has done what most of us yearn to do – she has made her dream into a reality.
Note: In December of 2006, author Barbara Weibel left her successful but joyless career to pursue her dream of becoming a travel writer and photographer. This story is one in a series about people who, like Weibel, have chosen to pursue their true passions.