Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taking A Break, Just Deserts

Torture, sweet torture. That would have been a better title for this post.

Deliberately or not, the last studio session before a Singapore weekend break became quite an arduous two hours. Whether it was to compensate for missing a lesson or to prepare me for a longer summer break, the maestro made sure the new exercises would challenge me enough for the coming "vacation".

Picture a studio, with dimensions around two-thirds of a basketball court. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on two sides. Airconditioning that had just been turned on, at 3pm of a sweltering el Nino-March summer day. And just you and your teacher in the studio. No distractions, no interruptions. A studio, the music, and a demanding maestro. That is just for starters.

On this particular day, the problem of balance was tackled with an exercise that required me to traverse the entire length and breadth of the studio executing the caminada with adornos. Choosing the direction I wanted to go to, I had to do a front and back adorno (or vice-versa), before stepping long and in perfect balance.

To make it even more excruciating, the maestro decided to he would add more value by sharing tango wisdom as I started the exercise. Fortunately, he understood the look that he got from me. So I got the quiet that I needed to concentrate on the exercise.

Step forward, close, lapis, adorno back, adorno forward. And close. Step right, foot in tango mode grounded as you move to segue to a lapis then adorno back, adorno forward. Close and step back, extend long from the torso, lapis, adorno, adorno. And again forward, and side and back...

I traversed that floor in slow motion. Trying to move to the rhythm of the music and keeping my balance. With hands in tango position, all the while dancing tall, with intent to conquer the wobble, the hesitation, the shyness. One round and back. Minute after minute. Complete one set with a slight wobble. Then topple when doing the back step. And again...

I traversed the floor length to length but once, choosing to sidestep and do the back and forth to get the adornos and the balance right. The heat did not help to make it less of a torture. And the full-length mirrors kept taunting my shaky frame as I took step after step, as slowly as possible to get that balance and make dancing tall a constant reality.

At the end of the two hours, my feet hurt and I could not flaunt another boleo even if my heart wanted to. My back was complaining and so were other body parts that were utilized in the exercise. Weak from the heat and battered from toe to upper shoulders, the maestro called it a day.

But as I did the exercise when I got home, I was able to do the adornos with none of the stiffness and less of the awkwardness I had started with in the afternoon lessons. I could actually lock in that foot and close and do the next step without toppling down. I watched myself in the mirror dancing a little taller, less shy, less wobbly, and yes, raring for the next lesson despite the aching feet and battered body parts.

I love the tango and it seems the tango is liking me just a little bit more.

That makes this Singapore break a fitting treat, just deserts, as that old idiom goes.

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