How One Gesture Can Change the World

Allison Johnson
3 min readJun 11, 2021


Photo by Dev Benjamin on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, a dance lesson cancelled on me. I teach adults Ballroom, Latin, and social dance. I LOVE my job! So when this couple cancelled, I grabbed my kids (son, 11; daughter, 9) and took my dance energy out on them:)

I have worked hard not to be a dance mom. I don’t want to force my dreams/loves on them. However, I do want them to know the joy that is partner dancing! But, as you know, with kids you have to be subtle. Dare I say, clever. My daughter is already a fan of Salsa (my first dance love) but I want them to know the wistfulness of Waltz, the swagger of West Coast Swing, and the passionate intensity of Argentine Tango. (Maybe not that last one till they’re much older;)

So that day, we started with Waltz. My daughter said she wanted to lead, and I, without thinking twice, said, “You’ll both learn both roles.” Because I do that with the majority of my students. It makes you a better partner to know what the other person goes through. (I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there, too, but I’ll stick with what I know;)

We went over what it means to lead and follow. How care has to be taken. How each has to listen. We had some laughs. We had some grace. It was really fun!!

Fast forward to later that night when a beautiful song played as the credits rolled on a movie we just finished. My son (the gentleman-in-training as we call him;) extended his hand to my daughter and asked her to dance. They walked hand in hand to the dance floor (our living room) and he asked:

“Would you like to lead or follow?”

I was so moved, I have no idea what my daughter answered.

He asked this question like it was the only natural question for the situation. There was no assumption of control or role. He simply asked. And I fell deeper in love with him that very second.

This week, my gentleman-in-training is in a competitive, co-ed, soccer camp. I heard from another parent, the girls like to play with him because he passes the ball.

“Because he passes the ball.”

The most basic skill one learns in soccer. Yet, I’m sure all grown women reading this who played sports as a young girl have plenty of memories of boys not passing them the ball. Of having to steal the ball just to be able to touch it. Now, could you say it made us better athletes to have to learn to hack it with the boys? Sure. Could you also say it hurt feelings, robbed us of actual helpful practice, and turned some girls off from sports entirely? Yep.

I’m exuberant to say: the girls who play with my son have a more respectful experience. During this month that celebrates equality and inclusion, I’m misty thinking about how beautiful souls like his are making the world a more loving place one small gesture at a time.



Allison Johnson

Dancer, writer, mother, watcher of too many movies:)