"Grounded. Cha-cha is about being grounded," Jolene insisted. I was confused but I took the pointed critique. "The problem with you two," (here she looked away from me and towards my partner, James), "and it drives me crazy to see you doing it, is the way you both live on your toes. What are you doing up on your toes?" We shuffled out feet and tried too look like we understood, like we were serious about dancing, that it had never occurred us to do anything as silly as stand on our toes (except that we did). At least, that is what was going through my mind. I didn't look at James.
The problem is that I was still confused. Why couldn't I stand on my toes? "You are in heels, Dana! You already have your weight forward from that. Stay grounded."
We tried the routine again. She stopped us three lock steps in.
"No. Look. Stay grounded. This dance is about your relationship with the ground. Your weight is always pulling you into the ground. Push into it, against it. Don't try to escape it."
We tried again. Better.
"Dana, land on your whole foot." She came over to me leaning all of her weight into my shoulders, pushing my heels onto the ground. We did the basic step. "You're still back leading. Stop leading. Wait for my weight transfers." We tried it again. Better this time. And then again. I wasn't even paying attention to my own feet pressed on the floor but almost to the feel of hers, as if I could really experience the feeling of gravity pulling on her and not me, or as if we were playing with gravity as one entity, not two people. Basic again. This felt completely different then how I had been dancing before. I tried it again with James. This felt stronger.
It's a dance with gravity, playfully teasing it with coming and going. Keeping my weight centered, pushing the ground, staying low, waiting for the weight to move over gravity:
That's how to look like we're flying.