The last two days at the studio is a revelation. Today, feeling tired for the first time in a month, it took me a long time to warm up. As we started our tango, Dima stopped me after the first wall of choreography. It feels too classical, he told me, I want to feel you dancing. How do I do it, I responded, where does it come from? He thinks for a second, then puts his finger up and taps his temple. It's up there. I can't articulate it, he says, because it's not any one place. It's a feeling.
I am by inclination a technician; I love talking about and understanding the mechanics of each movement, how the separate muscles work, how each figure is executed. To fully know these things is in my eyes, what makes a beautiful, clean, dancer. But that's not good enough. If you've ever seen So You Think You Can Dance, you can clearly see the difference between the contestants who just have beautiful technique and the one who somehow become the dancing. They're somehow very deep inside of their own bodies; they're channeling a whole different mental field.
At some point tonight, after a particularly bad round of quickstep, Dima said something that clicked me in. When we came out of the dance later, triumphant and happy, I still could not articulate what I'd done differently. I felt the control in my movement. Every point of contact between myself and the world - the floor, my shoes, my partner, the air around me - came into intense sensation, and I had all the time in the world for every action I wanted to create.
That was dancing, when I stopped trying to make things happen, when I let myself drop away and a different me found freedom in my body. Sure, the dancing was no longer as technically strong, but it was emotional and committed and most of all, connected.
I keep trying to equate the different mental levels to my classes or to work, or some other even in my life, but I haven't yet found a good analogy. Will keep at it. I hope I can tap into this more and more easily as time goes on. Now that I've felt it, I can't forget it.