I don’t just dance

25 Apr

fight to dance

There’s a post going round called ‘I don’t just dance’. A photo of a dancer obviously letting go and letting the dance flow through her.

And it goes on to explain how she doesn’t just dance – she performs. She stops feeling sad. She loses the pain. She watches the world disappear. She tears down walls. She lets go. She smiles.

And that’s good. And every time I dance with someone, I want her to feel just a little bit of that. That’s why I dance, I think.. to bring a little bit of joy into someone else’s world. I want her to feel like the most graceful person in the world – to let the outside world drop away, for those four minutes (or possibly seven, when it’s one of those tracks when the guitarist just won’t give up until the bass player walks off stage or the drummer throws his sticks down). I want her to feel happy, and joyful, and elegant, and inspired, and beautiful, and alive. I want her to feel, at least for those three or four minutes, like a fabulous dancer.

But in the magic world of partner dance, we have to work hard to make the magic happen…while we might appear cool, calm and collected –we might appear in control…we’re actually just trying to hold it together to make it through the next track. And it made me think that picture only tells half the story.

So I’ll tell you what’s REALLY going on in the mind of your typical lead…

 

She said “yes”. Perhaps it would have been easier if she’d said “no” because now I actually have to deliver.

OK. Remember your technique. Get the connection right. Shoulderblade. Arm. Hand. Just the right amount of tension. Not quite got the connection on my arm. That’s OK. We’ll fix it as we go. I can work with this…

Calm. Relax. No need to move too soon. Get your connection right. Hold on. What do you mean, “Relax”? I have four minutes of dancing to fill and right now I think I might have forgotten everything I ever learned. Oh my god this is going to be a disaster…

What on earth is this track? I have never heard this before. What’s going on? Where’s the rhythm? There is no rhythm. OK. Follow the vocal. The vocal always works. Pause. No vocal, no movement. Silence is OK. Stillness is OK. Move again. Pay attention to the music. Pay attention to my partner.  Work with the mood of the track. So much to think about…

Eye contact. Remember eye contact. Try to keep the panic out of your eyes…

I wish these voices in my head would stop so I can just get on and enjoy the dance…

A break. Dammit. Missed the break. Now she’s wondering if I am actually listening to the music. She must think I am an idiot. Never mind. Try and get it right next time.

Technique. Always remember good technique. I lost connection there. Got it back. It’s all good.

Any chance of a change in the music? Please? Whoever wrote it. Must be Ed Sheeran. Everything seems to be by Ed Sheeran at the moment. PLEASE let there be a change. Up tempo. Down tempo. I don’t mind, just change something cos I really have run out of ideas. Is she bored yet? She must be bored by now. Does she look bored? Is she enjoying this…?

Dammit. Missed another break. Pay attention to the music. WHERE ON EARTH has the vocal gone…?

Instrumental break. OK, we can change this a bit. Oh, for goodness sake, don’t follow the guitar. Never follow the guitar solo. Even the guitarist doesn’t know what’s coming next, so how on earth can I work that out and then communicate ‘widdley-widdley-twang’ to my partner…?

Harmonica?! For heaven’s sake, how am I meant to dance to a harmonica solo..?

Phew. Vocal’s back. She’s singing in my ear now. Actually, that’s quite pleasant. Resist the temptation to make it a duet. Bit more energy here.. no no no, don’t go out to extension, you idiot. You’re going to start flailing around like a spider on rollerskates. Wrap her back in. Nice neat transition…

Oh my god. Must try not to be inappropriate. She’ll think I’m a complete weirdo. Perhaps I should just stay at extension. No, relax, you got this…

Break! Got it! Oh yeah baby we are so cool. Smug look…

Let’s try some travel and a pivot turn..and.. whoops. That didn’t go quite as I planned. Must work harder on preparation before moving next time. Never mind, just segue into something else, look all calm and confident, and she’ll never suspect a thing…

She must be bored by now. Is she enjoying this dance? She probably thinks I’m a complete doofus. Oh, god, let her be enjoying this dance…

Getting ready for a dramatic ending now… prep a nice little drop and… oh no, the keyboard player’s just gone off on one again. Dramatic ending #2 coming up… nice little lean… and it’s over…

Smile. Say thank you. Realise that actually, that was a really good dance. Murmur “that was fabulous, thank you” because actually – it was…

Try and get heartbeat back to normal resting pace…

 

And we come and do this for FUN?

It seems to me that when a dance works, it is one of the most sublime, awesome, incredible experiences on the planet. And we live for that moment. We might not be expecting it every time but when it happens… it happens. And trust me when I tell you – those moments only appear because we’re working hard, both of us, to create them. In that moment. In class. In workshops. In the kitchen. Listening to music. Imagining. Dreaming. Creating.

And when we meet on the floor, and we give it our best shot, and fireworks race across the sky and heaven applauds our efforts… then it all becomes worthwhile. (It’s called artistic licence. Deal with it.)

And THAT’S why we face the terror, and the panic, and the insecurity, and the fear of getting it wrong.. because most of the time.. it’s fabulous. And some of the time.. it’s incredible.

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

Original picture, in case you missed it:

dance

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One Response to “I don’t just dance”

  1. Barbara Farrell April 26, 2017 at 9:35 am #

    Tim, you were always a wonderful dancer and I recall, always very much in demand. Reading your post I realise precisely why. Unfortunately, I also now realise how selfish I was as a dancer.
    I enjoyed every single moment of almost every dance I had with almost everyone I ever danced with. Barring the odd wrenched shoulder or partner with halitosis, dancing was a beautiful escape from a life I was struggling with without knowing it. Whether my leader was an expert like yourself or a complete beginner, I was always grateful for every moment where I could let go, relax, not think about my life or work and simply follow. I have never been able to adequately describe to non-dancers the pure joy, the excitement, the … no, just ‘pure joy’ best describes the feeling. Nothing else matters, nothing else exists except you, your leader and the music.
    So, to you and everyone I ever danced with, thank you from the bottom of my heart for unwittingly helping me cope and I apologise for any stress you felt, dancing with someone who was obviously ‘away with the fairies’ and not working as hard as she should to ensure you also gained as much enjoyment from the experience xxx

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