We went out to see the Argentine tango show Arrabal on Thursday night. I wore this outfit sans the hat.
Kasper wrap dress, necklace handmade by me, boots – super old, hat – vintage
You get an snippet of the end of the show here. Keep your eyes on the male dancer with the ponytail and bright blue pants to the right…
Did you see him?
I danced with him for 5-10 minutes on stage in front of all the people at the Pantages theatre.
And no I am not some fantastic tango dancer (I wish!).
At the beginning of the show the dancers/actors went around and asked people from the audience to dance with them. It was a live Milonga using audience members.
When the dancer came and asked me to dance Robert did not look impressed.
In fact he looked quite pissed. Cue the jealous Latin gene.
But that did not stop me.
As excited as I was to get the opportunity to dance with a professional tango dancer as soon as I got up on stage the realization of the whole "dancing on stage in front of hundreds of people I didn't know when I hadn't practised or taken lessons in almost 5 years" overwhelmed me. I could see the balconies of people looking down at us. It didn't help when other male dancers were hanging around the milonga (bar) looked at me and made cat calls and gestures as we danced by. I know that was part of the show but it unnerved me.
Added to the mix was the fact that the steps we were doing were not remotely like what I was taught through Arthur Murray.
I started to panic.
My whole body stiffened.
I felt like the music was blurring.
My palms got sweaty.
My legs started shaking.
The swarm of butterflies that had instantly formed in my stomach wanted to explode out of my mouth.
I forgot every dance step I'd ever learned.
I was wearing rubber bottom pointy toed boots in a size 8 (my size is a 7, I buy them larger to be comfortable). The toe comes out about 1.5 inches from the end of my "real" toes. It was like dancing with sticky pointy clown feet.
I started messing up.
My whole upper body became rigid with fear.
I looked around.
Everyone was looking at us.
At me. I'm such a narcissist.
Then it happened.
I stepped on his toes.
The tippy toes of my pointed clown feet treaded on his professional ballet style dance shoes.
There was no doubt he must have felt it.
But… like the true professional he was, he didn't cry out, pulling a Mariah Carey screaming, "why must I work with such untalented imbeciles?" while storming off stage,
he just kept going.
I don't even think he missed a beat.
I apologized immediately and exclaimed how difficult it must be to take audience members with little or no training to dance on stage. He nodded silently in agreement in what I was sure was a master effort to stifle the searing pain that was rushing through his feet. (Maybe I'd injured him and he woulnd't be able to dance the rest of the show! Gah!)
Then with his Argentinian accent softening the words he said,
He must have noticed I had stopped breathing.
"And feeeeel my body."
My shoulders relaxed.
I felt the tension drain out a bit.
I took a breath and kept moving.
"Good. Good!", he whispered.
I manged to do a few La Puertas which seemed to impress him a bit but I have to admit the moment of joy for me had passed and I was left drowning in fear.
The tension began to build again and I was certain I resembled a heavy bag of potatoes being dragged around the dance floor. All the audience were wondering why they paid good money to see me stumble about feigning tango.
It felt like I'd been dancing for hours. But not in a good way.
In an, "I am so utterly useless" and terrible way.
I cannot express the impressive look of relief that washed over this poor dancer's face (and mine as well) when the music changed and he told me the show was starting and thanked me for my dance.
I literally ran off the stage, my pointy clowns toes 2 inches ahead of me the whole way.
As exhilarating as it was to have danced with a professional on stage I was hugely disappointed in myself. As a child I took dance and baton twirling lessons and once a year had to perform on a large stage. At one point I dropped my baton and wasn't able to re-cooperate myself for the rest of the recital. I told my Mom I wanted to quit dancing after that. It was too stressful for me. It made me ill.
I see that I haven't gotten over this fear some 40 years later and this makes me even more disheartened.
As an after-note…my husband was also asked to dance and did quite well and looked great (as usual).
His advice to me was, "Suzanne, you think too much."
He probably is right.
Grainy photo of us at the show in front of the stage.
The show was brilliant and we really enjoyed it.
We got up on stage again at the end but thankfully it was "free form" dancing and I am damn good at that. A chance to redeem my self worth!
This was a super scary experience for me but I'm still glad I did it.
Would that scare you?
Would you do it? Have you had similar experiences? Do share!
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