I am walking and dancing as I walked through the office building complex. I ordered my coffee and flipped my wrist like a bachata movement like how a girl lays her hand on the shoulder of her partner. But there is no partner holding me. I am holding my wallet and taking out notes to hand it over to the outreached hands of the lady at the counter. I flipped my hand backwards as I zipped to close my wallet like another dance move before slipping it back into my bag. I glided a cross the floor to the music of Prince Royce singing in my mind as I picked up the warm coffee paper cup. As I opened the glass doors, I am pushing into a spin outwards towards the open air alfresco area. My feet start to move to the rhythm of the bachata music in my head, as I spin in circles and walked on pavements after pavements, up and down the stairs. To the security counter, to the automated elevators. I am working to the music and my movements are no longer under my control. My body is responding to the music, and the music had conquered my soul. As I wrote my email replies I moved my fingers to the music like tiny dance steps walking on the keyboard. I spin my chair and reached outwards to grab a glass to fill it with water. I am one with the dance and music through all my actions and even writing this.
It’s in dancing.
It’s in us dancing.
In us dancing till the light in the stars goes out.
Till there are no more love stories written.
I am at a crossroads. I don’t know what to do, or what to predict. I don’t know what to think, or to reason. I am quite an obsessive control freak when it comes to “planning”. It is part of my nature to ensure “things” go according to “plan”. However, as much as I would like to plan outcomes and control the future, I realised that I am losing the essence of the being in the present.
To regain my spontaneity in life, I picked up West Coast Swing (WCS) . You see, WCS is a improvisation social dance, that is danced according to the music. It is when your body loses control to the music, and you become a living instrument. A living piece of artwork. It has helped me tremendously in stopping my obsessive thoughts on controlling the outcome of my performance. In fact, the whole series of the Scarlet Queen on YouTube is done spontaneously, without much planning. Only an outline. The lines and scripts are said on the spot. There is no preparation. It is all live. There are no cuts, no edits, it is true blue spontaneity in action.
I try to imagine the message and artistic direction I want to convey, and after imagining for some time, I execute it with the best of my abilities given the resources I have in my immediate environment. You see, we humans evolved from monkeys. A few thousand years ago, we were on treetops, swinging around, using our motor and visual skills to navigate lush forests for berries and fruits. The ones who could possibly survive this “treetop” environment, were the ones who had sharp observational skills on detecting food sources and of course, fine motor ability so that one does not fall down from the trees onto the oncoming path of a tiger! In dance, we are using these primal skills in motor coordination and self awareness to execute dance steps. Not for the usage of retrieving food from treetops , but for sport and art (we had evolved from primates!).
As modern day humans, we had lost the connection to forests (which we are originally evolved to fit into), and are now perpetually connected to electronic devices 24/7 the moment we wake up and turn on the alarm clock to dusk when we switch off the lights. We are “electrified” by magnetic fields of radio and internet communication lines, and in transported in metallic vehicles and planes. We are slowly, but surely, evolving to become trans-human – where technology merges with our biological selves to become a mixture of a robot – human, basically.
Before this change takes place and we lose our hearts and emotions to the numbness of scientific evidence and coldness of technology, we have to regain some sort of essence within ourselves. Something… animalistic. Something… primal. Something… that wants to come out. We have not discarded our old ancient brain totally despite how much we want to disown the animalistic side of our natures, we are still – human – not trans-human.
The more we try to align ourselves with angels, the more we fall back into disappointments that we are merely animals. We still need – food, sex and shelter. We can’t live like flying angelic beings who have no need for food or material comforts. There is a old chinese saying. “Love does not quench your thirst when you are thirsty.” As much as we try to aim for the stars, we are still at the mercy of nature.
In dance, we might regain a certain connection with our animal selves. Our instincts. Our biological urge to express ourselves freely, to move wildly, like the days in the tree tops. To feel alive, to feel the connection with nature, with others, with the earth. To attract a mate, to impress others, to show our fine motor skills for a chance of propagation. To be free and wild… away from the constraints of society and social norms. It is … one of the remaining outlets of self expression in a “controlled” illusionary man made environment. That is… the beauty of illusion and control in dance.
The best love stories are about tragedy. Every famous opera – Swan Lake, Phantom and Madame Butterfly is about unrequited love. In Moulin Rouge, it is no different. This is the very movie, that inspired me to learn Tango – to this effect. In short – the story revolves around the lead actress, who has to gain the sponsorship of a rich businessman for the play to materialise. She is attracted to frame, glory, and diamonds. However, she falls in love with a lowly poet… whom she denies the love they have and instead says to him “a girl got to eat.”
In Roaxanne, a powerful scene, she has to choose between becoming a “prostitute” by sleeping with her sponsor, and gaining stardom… or to love a poet, who has nothing to offer accept love. Initially, she decides to go ahead to seduce her sponsor and sleep with him.. so she can be a star. When she sees the poet singing to her on the streets, her heart wavers…. and she realises that she is deceiving herself by sleeping with the wrong guy. Love… betrays you. Too late, she is in the bedroom of her sponsor… will her love prevail?
Why… does my heart… cry…. feelings… I can’t hide? – Poet
Tango.. is after all.. a dance of love and tragedy.
Tango and Halloween, tragic love and sentimental killers
The Scorpion Queen reigns in the month of October
Kiss or Kill, when the cords are out, fate decides
Passion Play, Dance of Death, Ropes and Chains
The Red Room of Pain awaits.
Step up Revolution (2012) is a well made dance movie with amazing choreography, contemporary a mercian dance moves and an underlying theme – that dance is a unspoken universal language which can be used to communicate to the public and gain the support of the masses. Dance, as we know it, is just, well, some motions on the body moving to some rhythm or beat. In this movie, they have elevated dance as a communication device – using modern technology such as YouTube, to gain popularity and support for their message.
This means that these flash mobbers – or political villgenttes, can use these skills for the good of the masses, or their own individual selfish egotistical needs. Initially, they wanted to gain over 10 million hits on YouTube to be qualified to win a grand prize of $10 million dollars. For these youngsters working as waiters in the day, this means a new start to their lives – money to go to college, to move to other cities, to travel. As flash mobbers, they risk getting arrested for public disturbance or injury from dancing on dangerously on cars or cargo containers. However, they are willing to risk it all for the one best shot at the grand prize.
After trying several attempts and falling short of first place on Youtube (almost losing to a singing cat), they decide to use dance as a protest against destroying their neighborhood – slums to be converted to luxury skyscrapers. The main character – Emily, daughter of the Anderson property group, falls in love with one of the lead male dancers, who encourages her to “break the rules” and be free of her father’s control. Naturally, as she is the sole heir to the property empire, her father is against her desire to pursue a dance career and join him in his mega property redevelopment venture. In defiance to his wishes, she joins the flash mobbers as lead dancer to protest against her father’s property development plans.
This conflict leads to the question – where does her loyalty lies? With her father or new lover?
This movie is about the transformation of Emily – the narrative – to achieve her own independence, free of her father’s control. She loves how life is like in the slums; dancing in a local latin club, taking a river ride down in a old motor boat, their lives free of society expectations and rules to upkeep. In her luxurious penthouse overlooking Miami beach, with the latest iPhone deck and silver Macbook for company, she ponders if her life has been an illusion of greed and overindulgence.
Tango is a male dominated dance, and naturally, ladies will have to follow in the footsteps of their male counterparts, without any signals, she can’t move. Only when he leads, she follows. When he stops, she stops. The mixture of signals to go forward or backward is provocative, yet alluring.
It is a dance that lures you forward, but pushes you backwards unexpectedly. It is the thrill of the chase, the thrill of seduction and romanticism, and the fear of rejection and abandonment by your lover. Will he proceed? Or will he go backwards? That constant fear will never leave the viewers, that is why the atmosphere in Milonga’s are solemn… to the point that the question of happiness is abated.
I have an issue when dancing tango, that is to give up my control to the male leading the dance. It is something I find very difficult to do, that level of submission is beyond me. In my daily life, I always have to feel in control, and that causes my anxiety levels to soar (especially during work). The gift of submission to the dance partner, causes a fear, what if, he does not lead properly and causes me to sprain my ankle? What if, he directs me to an incoming path of a train? (crazy thoughts, but yes, they go through my mind)
In my view, submission is a gift, and can be achieved through partner dancing. When I was learning Modern Jive while in Melbourne, I noticed a woman who had serious issues with the male leading the dance, her resentment is so strong in her expression, that I could feel her mistrust and disassociation. Her dance was rough and unforgiving, her movements tough and unmoving. That was the ugliest dance I ever seen, and from that, I realised that feminism is not the answer to partner dancing.
There is a fine line between masculinity and femininity for women. If a woman is too masculine, she would be viewed as too tough, if she is to soft, she will be viewed as vulnerable. It is that conflict every woman in the 21st century has to face – to embrace or disgrace feminism, to be independent or dependent. That constant conflict is the source of many martial disputes and – divorce – for when a woman is unable to resolve her inner conflicts – she is unable to dance smoothly with her life partner – and that leads to seperation.
Dance is after all, an expression of life, and life is an expression of dance.