Friday, March 26, 2010

She Danced

She danced delicately, she danced frenziedly,
She danced in staccato rhythm and liquid movement,
She danced with pure precision and orgiastic abandon,
She danced gloriously,
She danced holding the wind in her close embrace,
She danced the love and joy of creation.
- Chris Lavdas, "Evrynome--A Story of Creation"

Dance has forever been an unfulfilled passion for me. I so envied the dancer's graceful move across the floor, the seemingly controlled wild abandon, but every move plotted out ahead of time. Yet, I have always been afraid that I would never memorize the sequence of complex moves. I don't have to.

Dance, at least in Swing is a series of cues and responses. The lead learns how to signal the intent, and the follow waits for and interprets his signal with her response. A lift of the hand and a slight back pressure tells her to perform an outside turn. She matches her rhythm to that of her partner on return, and he signals the next move. Perhaps it was and indicator of my gender identity and I thought it was avoiding making the wrong decisions, but I always wanted to follow, never lead.

In actuality, the decisions of the follow can be so more complex. She has to interpret a signal on a moments notice, respond and return to her lead in the basic step. She has so many more places that she can mess up, whilst being spun dizzily on the spur of the moment. And if she does mess up, she has to gracefully recover like nothing went wrong. It's a challenge and I love it.

The dance floor is the perfect place to practice synchronizing yourself with someone else, while still retaining some individuality. As a follow, as you pace yourself to the rhythm of your partner and as you understand his intent, you are drawn into experiencing his world, with little time to pollute the experience by questioning it.

Last night was my fourth installment of the Lindy Hop, and it was an incredible workout. I was drenched in sweat from head to breast, and my thighs and back are still complaining today. It's fun, but tiring. I'm not sure I can survive a whole 3-minute song. Needless to say, it's a great workout.

The following hour, I got more catch-up tips from the 3 gentlemen who danced with me on my Eastern Swing. In my second hour ever, I felt everything going right doing my basic steps and turns. I needed a warm-up on the "push," but it fell into place. When the gentleman who actually did the instruction a couple of months ago took me back out to the dance floor, he decided it was time to start me on a new move. He didn't tell me the name, but it was basically dancing in a lean, and doing 180's.

I dance in high heels instead of comfortable dance shoes, because it feels right. It minimizes the space my size 13 feet (in women's shoes) take up on the floor, and keeps my on my toes, which is proper form for most of the dances. It's better to practice as real as possible to performance anyway. Moreover, I am forced to be more graceful in my steps, and I get a workout on my calves and thighs.

I just can't imagine myself seriously dancing in slacks, either. I love making the skirt dance as a slow counter rhythm, and I've been in love with dancing skirts for decades.

Next week, I foray into the Charleston. I've already been warned it takes more energy than the Lindy Hop.

Hugs and God Bless,

1 comment:

  1. I am nearly three years into ballroom dancing lessons with Mrs Stace. Remembering the steps is fast becoming the hardest part...

    And I also struggle to lead most of the time...

    A three minute Jive, or a Cha Cha is plenty to leave you totally exhausted as well when the music has a resonable bpm.