Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some ramblings from the week so far....

I am in tech this week for an opera that I am the assistant designer for. And it has been one hell of a week, and it is only Wednesday! 13 hour days are always brutal, and when those hours are spent in a dark theatre or in the deep recesses of the theatre in the wardrobe room, it can become really surreal. The show is going well, and it is really beautiful visually, but I am looking forward to opening day so I can breath a little. Had a funny moment though, on Monday as I was loading the costumes in, the theatre next to us was loading in Chita Rivera's The Dancer's Life, and as I walked out onto the loading dock, I watched one of the road crew wheel a road box into my car. My poor little car! He looked down and my front bumper, eyes wide, and then looked up at me, mouth agape. "I did not just watch you do that, did I?!?!" I said in mock horror. It only scratched the bumper, and although my car is not pristine, it is not a mess of scrapes and scratches either. But it was not a big deal. He kept apologizing, and asking if I wanted him to get his production manager. It was really no big deal, and I told him so. He offered to at least buy me a cup of coffee, to which I replied "You are loading a show, I am loading a show, and we are going to be running around like maniacs. But tell you what. If you manged to catch me again while I am loading, you can buy me a coffee with a few adjectives before it. Ok?" He agreed, and I continued loading. When we finished and I came out to move my car, he was standing at my car with his production manager. looking at the front bumper. She apologized and asked if I wanted to file a claim. I said no, it was too much work for so little a scratch and to please, stop worrying about it. She then said that she would give me free tickets to any performance that I wanted of the show. As many tickets as I wanted. Wow. That so rocks. So I asked for two tickets to Saturday's matinee and they took my information and I'll be seeing Chita dance her stuff Saturday afternoon.
I invited S to the show, but he may be in Montreal at the festival (of which I can't go because of the opera.... grrrr.....) but even if he is here he said I should take someone who would actually enjoy the the show. So I am taking my mom. Yea!

However, this crazy tech week schedule does not mean that I am not tango-ing this week! Oh no! After working from 9:30 am to 10:45 pm last night, I went over for the last 45 minutes of the Odd Tuesday Milonga in Cambridge and dance with my S and S2. I kind of felt like a rock star, breezing in for the last bit of the night and breezing out. Although only getting a taste of tango made me want more, despite the exhaustion that was turning into punchy hyperactivity. The place was packed and as always, the best dancers were there. As I was looking around at about 5 of my favorite leaders, I was really wishing that I had more time, or that the milonga went later so that I could dance longer. But the taste that I had was worth it.

There was one moment that I wonder at myself about. A good leader, P, who is the boyfriend of one of S's favorite followers, was standing by the door. S kept urging me to go ask him to dance, but I was really reluctant to do so because I don't actually know him. I've seen him dance, I am guessing that he knows I am S's girlfriend, but I become stubbornly resistant to asking someone to dance whom I have not danced with or talked with. I think I am still in this "I'm a beginner and not yet good enough" mode. S and I were having dinner with some friends the other night I made mention at some point that I wanted to be good now. Not soon. Now.
Hyperactive sense of achievement I guess.
But I just could not handle the thought of walking up to a good leader, asking them to dance, and then sucking ass. Being turned down does not bother me, I can handle that, but asking someone and then not being perfect? That is scarier to me.

There is another issue that keeps bumping around in my head. S and I had a conversation over the weekend about tango and its precision and emotion. I feel that it is an emotional dance. Full of life and passion and movement, the connection, the communication, it is all emotional to me. He felt it was more about precision with emotion secondary in the dance. Which explains some about when we dance, but it made me a little sad. I always enjoy dancing with S, because it is him. It is an added level for me when I dance with him than with any other leader. But I think it is not the same for him. Maybe because I am not good yet. He says that there are moments that he enjoys dancing with me, but I don't get the sense that he enjoys dancing with me regardless of how I am dancing or how he is dancing. I wonder if that is a male/female thing, or just me being overly sensitive....

More ramblings soon, but I have some alterations to get done now!

I had no idea the flurry of e-mails and comments this was going to cause, so I feel the need to clarify my earlier comment about S and his preferences in dancing. Firstly, let me say that S is a lovely leader, and although he has been dancing for a little over a year, he is well beyond a normal 1 year social dancer as he is a perfectionist and really threw himself into learning, much as I have. He did not slight me, nor was he putting me down. It was a straight-forward discussion that I started in regards to the fact that I felt as though I enjoyed our dancing more than he does. I have only been dancing for about 4 or 5 months, most leaders when they dance with me put me at about a year or a little more, but I still make mistakes, miss leads, and sometimes lose things completely. This means that my leaders have to compensate for me. My guess is that the other leaders I dance with are not going to comment on this and thus only tell me how much they enjoy dancing with me. One leader, S2, will compliment me on the occasions when I actually contribute to the dance as opposed to just following. My S, however, is brutally honest with me when I ask for feedback or open conversations about my dancing. Doesn't mean it doesn't smart sometimes, and doesn't mean that I am not curious about others who are in relationships and dance when one is at a higher level than the other.
I am not looking for sympathy, nor am I fishing for compliments, and I certainly am not bashing S in any fashion. It was simply a conversation that stuck in my head and I was curious as to how others dealt with this issue. I work in the arts, and I used to be a dancer, so for me, dancing is emotion. And tango appeals to that side of me. S is more responsive to the precision of tango, and that is the discussion that we had. Differences are good, and being able to discuss the differences that bother you is also good. I do appreciate all of the constructive comments that have been posted and e-mailed to me, some of your advice has been incredibly helpful to me, so thank you. But please do not think that this was a "Oh poor me" moment, it was just something that was rolling around in my head and I decided to let it out.

Oi. I need a glass of wine now! ;-)


Caroline said...

"I feel that it is an emotional dance. Full of life and passion and movement, the connection, the communication, it is all emotional to me."

Deby - you've nailed what tango is all about. Any Argentine who dances the tango will agree with you. I'd rather just walk an emotional salida than a precise and complex but emotionally detached sequences of steps. In fact, last time I went to a milonga, I spent an entire tanda just walking in close embrace with a guy and it was one of the most beautiful tandas I had for he put everything of himself into the connection by sharing with me how the music affected him. It was absolutely divine. My biggest peeve about leaders is when they care more about the steps than sharing their heart and passion. Would tango be as popular as it is without that emotional connection?
You're not being hypersensitive at all - and in fact, I was glad to read what you wrote at the end of your post because it tells me that you definitely have l'esprit de tango. Don't lose it.

Debbi said...

Thanks Caroline!
I don't want to imply that S dances emotionless or disconnected. He has a great innate sense of musicality and connection. But he did mention that it was not an emotional dance for him. I am sure that if I am mis-quoting him, he'll let me know! ;-) But it was a curious conversation about precision vs emotion.
And don't worry, I'm not losing anything any time soon! :-D I just have moments of frustration and confusion from time to time.

Caroline said...

"I just have moments of frustration and confusion from time to time."

I can relate!

La Planchadora said...

This post has bothered me for a while...that your significant other would tell you he doesn't enjoy dancing with you as much as he enjoys dancing with other people. If he enjoys only "moments" of his dancing with you, maybe he could enjoy a moment of you kicking him around...

Debbi said...

Planchadora, I adore you! :-)
It does bother me, and he knows that, but I can not fault him for being honest. As long as he also does not fault me for being honest. What can I say, he prefers the more advanced followers whom he does not have to compensate for. He does dance with me quite a bit, it is not as though he never dances with me, but I think that we view dancing together differently. I just wonder at other couples who dance together when one is more advanced than the other, is there also this disparity? I'll be curious to see if his view changes as I become better and dance at a higher level.
Ack. Maybe I should kick his ass for a moment or two and then he would actually enjoy dancing with me.... ;-P

malbec said...

Just discovered your blog--it's great! Just thought I'd comment on your wondering what other couples do when there is a disparity in dancing levels. When I met my now husband he'd already been tangoing for several years, and, while he still dances better than I do, there was obviously a very significant chasm at first. We all enjoy dancing with people who dance very well, but my husband always made me feel that dancing with me was special and different than dancing with anyone else, regardless of my ability.

And, btw, my husband (who es argentino) says that "all argentinians" (no generalizations here :P) would agree that tango is "pura emocion". Obviously you've got to have some technique in there, but if you're not feeling something at least most of the time, I would say that something's wrong.

Not trying to suggest that S is a bad person or anything. Hopefully as he continues dancing he'll come to appreciate the emotional side of the dance (and dancing with you) more.

La Tanguera said...

Dear Debbi,

On your last paragraph--all I can say is, I've been in a very similar experience. My advice would be--don't worry. I think you have a point on the male/female thing playing a role. Another aspect is some perfectionist leaders who are still in the relatively early stages of the learning process naturally worry more about precision than emotion (they have to lead well for the follower to get it, they have to worry about navigation, etc), and the followers may find it easier to focus on the emotional part of it.

But one last thought, on something I learned from a failed tango relationship (it did not fail due to the tango, incidentally). And that is--don't let this kind of conversation worry you, nor start thinking that your level should be higher for him to enjoy dancing with you. Both of you will mature in tango, and that will naturally help you relax more consistently and connect better and feel more together more often. Before that happens, don't ever, ever, lose respect for your own dancing, regardless of the differences in level between you and your partner's. Valuing your own dance will make others value it, too.



Debbi said...

malbec - thank you very much! And I am glad to hear from someone who is in a relationship where the levels of tango began with a wide difference. I know the chasm will diminish as I get better.

tanguera - thank you too! I think your advice about not worrying is sound, it bothers me every once in awhile, but I try not to focus on it. And I think you hit the nail on the head with the perfectionist remark. S is a perfectionist. But then again, so am I, hence the intense learning I am putting myself through to learn tango. And I do value my own dance, it would be counter productive not to I think.

What can I say? Sometimes I can't help being a girl! I want to be good now and adored! ;-D