Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dancing, again

I think about dancing almost as much as I think about horses, in case no one has noticed, and lately I find myself thinking about riding while I'm dancing. Probably just as well not to let my partners know that....

I had the pleasure of dancing with three of my favorite partners Sunday night. They really gave me something to think--and blog--about. It was so interesting to pay attention to what was going on in my body during the dance.

The first gentleman asked me to dance shortly after I arrived. He and I have danced together for a long time. This particular evening, for whatever reason, he wasn't up to his usual form. His lead was a little late; his feet weren't where I expected them to be. As a result, when we first started, the dance felt "off." But we kept at it. I put a little more energy into my own dancing, and he actually seemed to pick up on it.

By the time the dance finished, we were nearly back to our usual proficiency. I wonder, is this what my horse experiences when I have a bad day? After a ride, I, as the rider, am usually feeling much better than when we started.

The second gentlemen, who studies ballroom dance and is the most technically proficient of the three, asked me for a waltz late in the evening.

There were a couple of times when he’d cue a move and I’d realize I had absolutely no idea what he was doing or where he wanted me to be. None. But it worked out anyway, and here's why (IMO, of course):

If I were a less experienced dancer, I would probably have hesitated there, not knowing what the cue meant. But experience told me to keep moving.

Also, I knew my partner was an excellent dancer and a strong lead. I was able and willing to trust him and move forward without knowing where he was sending me. Very important point: If I had not trusted him, I would have stopped, like a horse refusing a jump. It's happened before, with other partners. Most embarrassing for both parties!

So at those those times of not knowing, I just kept moving, trusting that I had understood the cue and that he knew what he was doing. Sure enough, there he’d be, at just the right instant to pick me up and move us into the next phrase.

The third gentleman, always fun and inventive, asked me for a tango. He and I have done a few Argentine tango lessons, but neither of us is terribly good at it. All dance, but especially this form of tango, requires an exceptionally precise lead and follow. There are no programmed steps, which makes it both challenging and great fun.

As we danced (and we danced very well!), I was aware of every signal, every hint, of the direction my partner was moving. This gave me direction and timing. Because we're not experienced and don't dance together often, I was also aware of my own fraction-of-a-second hesitation while my body--NOT my head--processed the information and moved. It was fascinating, and gave me a greater insight into what my horse experiences when we ride.

And it was magic. Pure magic. I want to ride like that.

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