|Dancing La Marinera in Tularosa, New Mexico. San Francisco de Paula Festival 2013.|
Last year, at the Feed 'n Seed, I danced with an older gentleman. A slow-ish song. About 30 seconds into our dance, he said quietly in my ear, "Slow down, we're not in a hurry to go anywhere."
This centered me right then, and for the rest of the dance, I could be in the moment with where my partner was going and which rhythm line of the song he was choosing.
|Holi Festival 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana.|
Earlier in the year, before the Feed 'n Seed experience, at a Vermilionville Bal du Dimanche, a woman generously tutored me on a zydeco movement. I had taken zydeco lessons a month or so before, and I'd learned a basic zydeco shuffle in which every beat of the eight-count in zydeco was accounted for with a step or tap. But this woman was showing me something different. I didn't see the eight counts in her steps, I couldn't replicate her movements, and it confounded me.
I asked her about the step count, and she said - bless her generous heart - "don't worry about counting, just move with the music." I couldn't do anything with that information, so I asked her to keep demonstrating her steps until I could solve the mystery. She graciously complied.
Finally, I saw it.
On the third and seventh steps, she PAUSED. The fourth and eighth step were there, but "silent." Ohhhhhh.
When I excitedly shared my newfound understanding, the woman looked a little puzzled, and then shrugged, as if to say "whatever," apparently not excited as I about my tremendous breakthrough in understanding. I'm guessing she had so internalized her step movements, she didn't even notice the pause, and thus didn't think to explain it.
|Feed n Seed, Lafayette, Louisiana.|
These two experiences planted seeds in my neonatal dance mind, but they didn't stick until I took a new round of zydeco dance lessons this month.
The instructor informed me several times that I was going through movements too quickly. He EXPLICITLY directed me to pause. He hammered these points when I struggled to make turns correctly, so that I'd finish on the right foot at the right beat.
Finally, I got it. I have to PAUSE when I take that first turn-step.
The pause makes all the difference.
There is a maturity, an elegance, a sensuality, in the dance pause.
It's gratification delayed, it's listening and feeling, it's a breath.
Learning to Dance: Solving for X
Learning to Dance: The Tao of Following