León en el Sol - The Lion in the Sun


"To touch is to open us to a story we have not yet heard, to an unworked work, a narrative without a beginning and an end. [ . . .] 'Touch signifies 'being in the world' for a finite being." (Derrida 2000, 161).


León en el Sol
The Lion in the Sun

The Lion, a visiting guest of my regular teacher, held me like he'd known me all my life. Every time I danced with him, at a milonga or in classes, or during the lesson, he smelled like "outside". I have the quoted because I don't know how to describe it. The smell of sun on leaves? A bit like that.

His embrace was pure warmth. No hesitation. No self-consciousness. No vanity. We just worked, and danced, and worked, and laughed, and danced some more. It was like dancing outside when you're a child that doesn't know to be self-conscious - warm, bright, energizing, playful. I don't think I learned a single new pattern during the lesson or the classes. We focused on embrace and posture, which of course makes everything else possible. Most importantly, I learned to trust myself. Even to relax and get free of my inner critic for a little while. That was the first lesson where I could quiet "the voice of doom" that chants "ohnoI'mdancingwithateacher". The same voice that tells me I'm not good enough/strong enough/graceful enough.

For the duration of the lesson at least, I didn't feel like I needed to be embarrassed by my emotional response to the music. So as much as I could, I held him the way he held me - like a long lost friend.

I learned to follow his breathing - though we didn't talk about that. It just came out of the time dancing. It was something I used to do/know and somehow forgot it for a time - listening and feeling for my partner's breathing. There's so much information there.

We worked hard, covered a lot of ground, and spoke very little. Laughed a lot. The more I shared of myself in the music - the more he shared, and the more I learned. It was a relief to dance to the music - and not to the voice of the inner critic. (At least until the camera started rolling. But one takes what one can get.)

4 comments:

Tango Therapist said...

Lions purr (sounds like a Harley, they say). Kittens purr. There is a lot of purring going on here! :-)

Mari Johnson said...

Tango Therapist - Yep, there was a fair amount of purring on my part I must admit. (Again, until the camera started rolling. *sigh*) Now to keep that purring sense of contentment no matter who I'm dancing with - that's the real work to be done.

happyseaurchin said...

wow...
what a recommendation!
nicest compliment i've heard
hope he's aware of it :)

Mari Johnson said...

happyseaurchin: I believe he is aware of it, but between our language barrier and my tendency to be somewhat incoherent after really nice dances, I think he would have gotten the impression from my embrace rather than my words to that effect. ;-)

I know I have danced with other leaders who made me feel much the same way, but I think I've never been at a point in my life/dance to really receive that gift before now. It wouldn't have made any sense to me a year ago - or even 6 months ago.