Tag Archives: dance

TANGO! Review February Power Word

28 Feb


TANGO! Unleash Your Passion or Get off the Dance Floor

27 Feb
The Seduction Dance

My tango takeaway: passion + practice = progress!

Let me preface this post by affirming that I am a happily married woman. That said, I recently found myself in an intense tango with a stranger whom I had only just met. I was drawn to this new partner under the most unlikely of circumstances, but the passion took over.

Okay, let me explain this metaphorical tryst before my husband of seventeen years installs secret spyware on my laptop. For months, I’d been plodding through a rather unpleasant scene in my novel, seeming unable to finish it. My character had to face a lot: a major death, charges of murder, a funeral, and above all, her own secrets. I seemed to be writing in circles, deleting more than I added most attempts and feeling, like my character, doomed.

Lunge back to my real life, the one without imaginary friends. A real-life friend and neighbor began to make me aware of details regarding plans underway to rezone schools in our county. I just didn’t have time to get involved, I thought. Besides, my friend and many others like her seemed well informed and fired up enough to fix any problem; I was confident they’d work it all out for the best. But then she insisted I should come to a school board meeting, that many of the proposed plans broke up our neighborhood and had my home and many others going to a school that would not allow my son to walk or bike to school like my daughter had done.

The fire was lit.  “One Neighborhood – One School” had become a rally cry among my neighbors and others asking for neighborhoods to be kept together while saving walkers and bikers, one which I thought summed up my new-found position as well. After attending a rezoning meeting, I was suddenly overcome with a desperate desire to do something, and to do it quickly, before the plans were finalized and set in stone. Sixteen haiku poems and a theme song poured out. My 11-year-old daughter helped me turn the song into a music video, which was reviewed by one newspaper reporter and even featured on local TV.

Chaines turn back to my imaginary world. Yesterday I finally finished that 3,000-word scene. It’s as if dancing with a new, intense passion reignited my long-standing, deeply desired passion of putting down this story. I’m as committed to it as I am to my marriage. Both take work, I know, and passion is what keeps each of them alive.

Here are some TANGO! rules of engagement I’ve learned. And a one-two-three-four…

  1. You gotta have passion. This is rule numero uno. En el tango o en la vida, your passion is what will propel your creativity. Lack of a driving passion bordering on obsession leaves the dance or the work flat. Just watch the first few episodes of Dancing with the Stars in any given season. While every contestant is learning the fundamentals of dance upon which they will improve over the course of weeks and months, those who cannot tap into their inner passion are always the first to go. It’s why even Pamela Anderson’s long legs couldn’t save her from losing to Drew Carey in week one last fall. The judges described her dancing as needing more “intensity.” That’s passion: intense, vibrant, alive.
  2. You gotta have technique. In dance, technique refers to the thousand repetitions of precise steps and combinations in the classroom that improve over time until they become second nature. My ballet mistress calls this desired phenomenon muscle memory. So it is with exercising our brains. The more we write/paint/compose/sew/take pictures/make films/create, the better we write/paint/compose/sew/take pictures/make films/create, and the more natural it becomes to do it.
  3. You gotta have structure. Practiced technique is tested with structure. Literally the beat and time of the music dictates when you do what. Lunge on one, snap head forward on two, wrap free leg around partner’s hip on three, be dragged gracefully on four. In real life, we call them deadlines. And we need them every bit as much as a dancer needs a rhythm. Trust me, it’s much harder to improvise dancing to a 3-minute song than to learn prescribed choreography and perform it.
  4. You gotta know what you want. In tango, the dance of seduction, the couple wants their mad attraction to come to its final pleasurable, um, climax. With the school rezoning, I knew what I wanted with easy clarity, perhaps because it was for my kids. For myself, it’s a lot harder. It’s too easy to get distracted by the necessary to-do’s of the day to forget that writing my novel isn’t another chore. It’s something I chose, something I want to choose to work on consistently, because it’s something I really, really want.

And so at the end of our month of TANGO!, I’m reminded of another group of awesome chicks, the Spice Girls, whose Wannabe lyrics make a great springboard for comments. So what’s your zigazig ah?

[You:] Yo, I’ll tell you what I want,what I really really want,
[4 Chicks:] So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
[You:] I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
[4 Chicks:] So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
[You:] I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really
really really wanna zigazig ah!

TANGO! It Takes Two

8 Feb
Two ballroom dancers practicing in their studio

This is what it looks like when I’m dancing…in my dreams

I love to dance.  So many kinds of dance I’ve enjoyed – ballet, jazz, lyrical, club, two-step and so on.  But I’ve never done the Tango.  It sounds exciting, intriguing, perhaps even…dangerous.  I do know one thing about the tango, and that is, as the saying goes, “it takes two”.  It’s not something you can do by yourself.

Neither is writing.

But all I want is time to myself so I can writeyou say.  Make the world go away for a little while, so I can write, I beg of you!

I sympathize.  Believe me, I do. But even when we are alone writing, we are not alone.  If we are writing something we actually want someone to read someday, then there is always one other person present.  Our dear reader.  Is our writing not a dance with our reader?

One of my writing challenges is pacing. This month, I’m going to think about dancing with my reader.  Am I leading them with a quick enough stride here, a slow enough pace there to catch their breath, a pause just…long…enough…to…create anticipation? I love it when that perfect tension is created with a dance partner.  That is what I need to create with my reader.

I think I’m ready to TANGO!  How about you?

February Power Word: TANGO!

1 Feb
Turn the heat up on a project close to your heart this month and TANGO!

Turn the heat up on a project close to your heart.

Do you remember when you first fell in love with your project? The butterflies. The intense longing to be together with it. Having trouble thinking about anything else when you were apart.

Have you lost the height of pleasure you once found in your relationship with your project, your art, or even your artistic self? Then join my 4 Chicks this month in falling back in love. It’s time to TANGO!

The tango is not a tepid dance but rather a hungry expression of passion. It is not for the half-focused or half-committed. While you tango every fiber of your being is engaged. The energy between you and your partner-project is electric. With small controlled steps, your deep inner yearnings resurface, intensify, and turn to sweet satisfaction.

Woo your artistic self with lots of love this month, too, and see if your project doesn't return in kind.

Woo your artistic self with lots of love this month, and see if your project doesn’t respond, too.

What project do you want to get closer to in February? Get ready to turn up the heat and move with it. Put on your red-hot dancing shoes and think: TANGO!


ZOOM! Review January Power Word

31 Jan

The Upside of Falling

18 Jun

There are worse things than falling. Giving up when faced with adversity, for example, and living safely within one’s certain boundaries of success, as another. I recently learned of these through beautiful and tangible illustrations worthy of sharing.

Last weekend, I went to see some friends perform from Delibes’ famously charming ballet, Coppelia. You may recall my friend Caroline and our ballet mistress, Stella, from my past posts about breaking the Guinness World Record. So the first excerpt was a lovely duet with Caroline and another dancer. Next came a male solo by Stella’s young and talented grandson, Lashard.

Then, at about (3:20) in this video, Lashard’s music stopped. For a second, my heart stopped with it. But then something truly remarkable happened: Lashard kept dancing. For what seemed like a frozen eternity but was really only another seventy-five seconds, he kept dancing. Even though the music played only in his head, Lashard orchestrated every leap, jump and turn on beat, causing a stunned and appreciative audience to applause throughout. Their spontaneous clapping punctuated the intimidating silence, during which could only be heard the deft workings of Lashard’s feet, as they landed in their prescribed positions on the vast and empty stage. I was incredibly proud of my young friend and deeply moved by his courageous perseverance.

Next came Caroline’s solo, which was executed gracefully and flawlessly. Finally, the three dancers joined together on the stage. After about four minutes of challenging choreography, however, the unthinkable happened to Caroline. As seen in this video, she fell to the ground. It was only for a second, and she was back up again in her final pose as if it had never happened, but I was devastated for her. An otherwise perfect performance had been ruined at the very end. Or had it?

When I afterwards attempted to console my friend, expecting her to be very upset, she surprised me yet again with her casual, good-humored reaction. She laughed and explained how falling is actually a good thing. While not ideal for a performance, of course, it does help you know that you’re stretching the limits of what you can do. She had gone for the double pirouette, feeling it within her grasp. This time, it didn’t work out, but that was okay. Or to grossly misquote Lord Tennyson: ‘Tis better to have tried and fallen than never to have tried at all.

What’s more, Caroline’s theory means that never falling is actually bad, a sure sign of complacency. Yikes! The metaphorical mandate for my life is clear. I must reprogram my brain accordingly.

FALLING IS NOT FAILING. They are two different things. Trying and then falling is growth, and hence, succeeding. So here is my challenge–and yours, if you want to take it: Let’s see if, the next time things don’t go according to plan in our lives, you and I can embrace falling with more perspective and, yes, with more grace.

%d bloggers like this: