Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ballroom and Writing: Part II

         "Grounded. Cha-cha is about being grounded," Jolene insisted. "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 seriously as if it had never occurred us to do anything as silly as stand on our toes. I didn't look at James. But why couldn't I stand on my toes? I liked my toes. I thought it made me seem "light on my feet."
We tried the routine again. She stopped us three lock steps in.
"No. Look. 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 to the feel of hers, as if I could really experience the feeling of gravity pulling on her and not me. Basic again. This felt completely different then how I had been dancing before. I tried it again with James. This felt stronger.
We were dancing with gravity, playfully teasing it with coming and going. Keeping weight centered, pushing the ground, staying low, keeping grounded:
That's how to look like we're flying.
            Flying is not easy in words. My poetry prof told me as we sat discussing my inability to get concrete words in poetic form. "I think it is sometimes easier for the people who just fill their words with real life things and then find out weeks later what it all meant. It is harder for someone who has complete ideas that then look for real life objects." I'm the second writer. My arms start to move as I start to become abstract, motioning in circles, my fingers curled as if my hands could shape something solid and comprehensible out of my verbal goo. I'd like to think that abstraction is valuable for its airiness when, in reality, it is as flimsy as a carnival balloon, rising and rising until the atmosphere shreds it. I'd rather have a hot hair balloon that rises steadily, heavy with canvas and basket and fire maker and sandbags that comes down when its time, watching the ground and playing with gravity. Trying to leave the ground permanently just gets the writing all tripped up.

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