Dancer with Auburn Hair, A lesson in Perception

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Believe nothing you hear, and only half of what you see. – Mark Twain

Nothing is what it seems.

You can’t judge a book by its cover. – Bo Diddley

People only see what they are prepared to see. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. – Henry David Thoreau

These are all phrases about perception.  Each person perceives the world and their environment in their own unique way.  Siblings growing up together will have different perceptions of their upbringing.  People doing a Life Drawing class will each have a different perspective on what they see and how they interpret it onto the paper.

Over the weekend at one of the Milongas, my friend told me that he had seen a painting on Flickr of the two of us dancing.  It turns out that someone had taken a photograph of us at Carole Edrich’s Fire and Ice exhibition that took place on the 6th of November 2008, and took the liberty to create a work of art.  The reason I say liberty is that the painting shows me with auburn hair.  I haven’t been a redhead for years.  My hair is brown going to natural.  It was artistic license none the less.

The painting is called, ‘Dancer with Auburn Hair’.  Apart from the hair colour, my dance partner and I are very recognisable, even though the view is of my back.  It was a surreal moment seeing myself like that in a painting.  I don’t have many photos of myself dancing, nor do I have many opportunities to see what I look like when I am dancing, as mercifully there are not many, if any, mirrors at the Milongas.

After admiring the image for awhile, I scrolled down the page to look at the comments.  At first I fell to pieces with laughter.  What people were thinking!  The comments had nothing to do with reality, if only they knew.  I have taken the ‘liberty’ to post some of them below.

One of the most romantic pictures ever. I can hear the music, feel the soft swaying motion of the dancers, feel their love for one another, their passion and their deep familiarity–I feel I’m looking at a couple who’ve been together a long time and truly know the ins and outs of each other, who have adapted, accepted, sparred, forgiven, known happinesses and sadnesses, and still manage to feel the flow of love of the moment, capable of remembering old passion. I like the blurry effect of this…it adds to their moment of romance, and of course her warm red hair and his bald dome are lovely; really an exquisite piece….

entrancingly romantic && intimate, the inseparable chemistry the lovers have is emblematized so well by her free, fiery hair, love love love it!
hope all is beautiful – xoxo!…

I like my friend very much, but he and I are just friends and we enjoy dancing with each other.  We move well together because we really feel the music and listen to each other on the dance floor.  Well, that is my perception.  If others think there may be more to it, then we must be doing something right.  These people were commenting on something they saw and how it made them feel.

I re-read the comments and I realised something really important.  The artist saw something in our dance, a feeling, which compelled him to compose his piece and that in turn evoked strong feelings in others – a chain reaction.  The more I thought about it the more I realised that I needed to change my perception about what I had read.  Although my friend and I are not lovers, we have loved others.  We have known passion, happiness and sadness.  There must have been a part of us that brought all of this feeling from our lives to the surface with the music in that moment.  We both love the music and the music makes us feel things that we can’t always explain.

I got to thinking about what I notice or look for when I am watching other dancers on the dance floor.  Apart from shoes, dancing skills and musicality, I always ‘look’ for the feeling between the partners.  That is what helps me to decide to accept a dance.  I am really sensitive to vibes.  I have seen very good technical dancers that don’t exude any feeling and their lack of emotion leaves me cold.  Why would I want to say ‘yes’ to that?  Where would the joy be?  I want to experience more.  I need to share with a sympathetic person.  I have moved beyond ‘dancing just for the sake of it’.  I need to dance with those on my wavelength or not at all.

I wrote to the artist to explain who I was and about my dance partner.  I wanted to know more and asked the artist what it was that moved him.  What did he see?  What was it about me, about the dance?  What am I projecting when I am dancing?  I don’t think about what is going on around me when I am dancing as I usually have my eyes closed, I’m feeling the music, and paying attention to my partner – at least most of the time.  I was really curious.

The e-mails flew back and forth and I now have an answer, or at least I understand the feeling.  It is reassuring knowing that I am not the only one that sometimes has difficulty expressing deep emotions in print.  Trying to put emotions into words can be a futile exercise and barely does them any justice, especially when they are felt so strongly.  That is why certain people use imagery to express themselves, or dance, etc.

The credit must be given to the music, as without the music there would have been no dance.  The dancers expressed themselves to the music.  The artist saw and felt something from the dance, and interpreted that into a piece of art.  In turn, others have been drawn to the painting and felt free to express how it made them feel.  There is no right or wrong about it, it is just a matter of perception.

In Tango, it is always about the music.  At least it is for me.

Join Me at Argentine Tango

I have recently joined a new group called Argentine Tango – A Networking Site for All Tango Enthusiasts…… online community.

I think it is a great site for networking and have set up a London Tango group there to let more people know about the London Tango scene.  I would really love it if you would become a member and join my group.  I have noticed a few familiar International faces on this group that some of you may know.

So if you are a teacher, organiser, dancer or just a lover of Argentine Tango, please have a look at this group.  What have you got to lose?  Who knows, you could make some great friends or learn something new.  Read what other people have to say about: El cabeceo a step too far?, Times change and etiquette to?, Do you think Tango has evolved over the past decade?.

The web address is:

I look forward to seeing you there.

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