I have a crazy dance partner. I could describe her for you, but I think you’ll get a better sense of our relationship from the tale of a choreography in the making…
We had a drum solo from the prior season, but she was tired of it and was itching for a new one. She’s like that – once it’s done, she’s often done with it. I’m thinking, it’s finally super-smooth and polished let’s get some mileage out of all that work. She wanted to move on. I held out for a while then agreed to start a new one.
We picked music, which is usually the easy part. She was sold on the one that had the cool gong sound at the end. Honestly, I think the whole solo could have been mediocre, but the gong just did it for her. I liked the whole thing, and could live with the gong – decision made.
We played with some ideas for the beginning and everything was going fine. During this phase, I happened to see a video of two tribal dancers on Facebook. They had some really interesting shapes and ways of moving around each other that I thought might inspire some ideas for our piece, so I sent her the link. They also happened to be doing a combo that had a Turkish drop that came up into some floorwork, but that wasn’t the point of sending it.
I hit the send button and heard a huge GONG then lighting struck. “Oh, #$%^! She’s gonna want to do a Turkish drop!” At our next rehearsal she announced, “You know what we should do on the gong?” I turned away and winced because I knew what was coming. “A Turkish drop – it’ll be AWESOME!” I know her too well.
“No. There will be no Turkish drops.” I answered. I explained the risk of damage to the occipital nerve if you hit your head, not to mention the stress on the knees, the ACL in particular. I spent 5 years and an awful lot of yet-to-be-paid-back money to learn about athletic injury and how to avoid it. Wantonly throwing oneself on the ground was a risk not worth the “wow factor.” She pouted. Over the next week I came up with other arguments in support of my position. For example, she had health insurance and I didn’t. I dance Egyptian style, why should I do a Turkish drop?
All of this was happening during the winter Olympics. A week or two later I was at the gym on the elliptical trainer. The sports channel was showing ski jumpers. I watched and thought about the level of insanity required to fling your body into the air on a mountain with skis to complicate the landing process. It was amazing to watch, and somehow the thought crept into my head that if they played it safe all the time, they wouldn’t be doing those amazing things. At the next rehearsal, she tried again and I said “OK, we’ll do a Turkish drop.” I wish I had taken a picture of her face at that moment.
The gap in our approach still wasn’t entirely bridged. I told her we needed to strengthen this and stretch that to do it safely. She just wanted to fling herself down there – right now. Me – I trained, and most importantly, I had to talk myself into it. To be quite precise, I had to “spin myself” into it.
We hit the decks at the end of an 8 count spin. For me, the drop didn’t happen on 8. It began with the spin. When I started to turn, I had committed to the floor. It’s like a cliff diver in free fall before hitting the water – there’s no turning back. If I didn’t look at it that way, I don’t think I’d have ever done it and it’s like that every time.
In the end, this story isn’t really about a Turkish drop. It’s about having a dance partner that is in some ways your polar opposite. We have enough common ground in style and musical taste to make a good dance pair, but personality-wise our differences are more complementary than similar. She pushes me past my borders. I keep her feet on the ground.
Right now she’s off hiking the mountains of Peru – she does stuff like that. I can’t wait for her to get back so we can start our next choreography adventure.