Dance With Me

tango-lesson“Please, just for me, forget the steps…
Hold me, feel the music,
and give me your soul.
Then I can give you mine.”
~Sally Blake, author of Happy Tango

The modern tango is a dance which borrows from a multitude of cultures, combines traditions from dozens of countries, has many musical influences, and is a pure amalgamation of the physical movement of an emotional soul.

It has both smooth effortless-appearing moves, and sharp twists and turns to break up the monotony. The steps ebb and flow with the music, while the fervor and passion ride the chords like a wave. It is perfect. The perfect dance. The perfect expression. The perfect balance. It requires flexibility, trust, faith, grace and guidance.

It is love in the form of motion.

I took dance as a kid, and by kid I mean from about 8-17 (when I promptly destroyed my Achilles tendon and had to leave dance behind). But I didn’t have partner classes. I was in group tap dancing—large ensembles of stumbling children alongside the more graceful toe-clicking students (I was both, in order). And I was in ballet, specifically pointe, aka up on my toes rather than in soft flats (explains those calves of mine, doesn’t it!). But ballet class was just me and the scariest tiny little woman I’ve ever known—who slapped my calves with a stick and was constantly saying “higher”, “head up”, “stretch your neck/spine”. But I was alone in ballet. No other students. No partner, ever. Thus, I’ve had classical training in the art of dance, but absolutely none of that taught me how to dance with another soul.

So I do not know how to tango. I can barely do the box-step with someone without laughter. Oh, but it’s on my bucket list. Near the top, actually. Complete with the shoes, the dress, and the rose in my teeth. But I need a partner. Someone willing to get their toes stepped on. Someone patient enough to teach me how to follow rather than lead. Someone I can trust not to drop me. Someone whose moves both echo and complement my own. Someone who understands the intimacy of the dance—the grace and forgiveness required. And someone who, if they don’t know all the steps just yet, is eager to take on the adventure as a partner, a team.

Doesn’t sound like a tall order, but it is. Everyone enjoys watching the tango in movies or at wedding receptions, many will jokingly perform the basic and/or most well known positions and moves, but I’ve yet to find one that actually wants to complete the dance. And so I am stuck in the familiar, dancing alone. And when that music starts, I stand back and watch the couples lucky enough to have the partner and know the moves, as they grace the dance floor with beauty and emotion. A wallflower in the music hall.

Until we get to the page. Then I can dance.

They say writing is a solitary thing, but that’s not entirely true. While we writers live in our own heads (sometimes to the detriment of our relationships) and dance with our own creations (characters we often know better than even our closest friends), we do invite the reader to the dance floor. The act of writing is solitary, but the twists and turns, the grace and beauty, is truly a dance of its own with our readers.

I may not have found a partner willing to learn how to tango on the dance floor, but if I do my job correctly as a writer, I will tango with the reader until the last sentence. And as the last notes fade into the corner of the dance hall, and the words creep off the page and into their heads, they should be left out of breath, feeling a bit seduced, with a sense of satisfaction… And a rose in their teeth.




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