Tuesday 3 May 2011

On being told what to do with our souls

It's not given to us to know what is in another person's mind. We sometimes think we do, but when any means of checking happens to occur, we turn out to be wrong as often as not.

You often get a strong impression of someone's personality by dancing with them. Somebody's dance is bound to express their personality - it isn't exactly going to express someone else's. Even if they are the sort of person who tries to imitate someone else, they'll only ever succeed in looking as though that's what they're doing; I don't really suppose it's possible to imitate the way someone else feels, unless by sheer accident. You do feel a strong sense of personality, and it may well be pretty accurate, as far as it goes. But it's never the whole story. There's a lot more to people than expresses itself in their dance.

In dance classes we sometimes get told what to do with our souls, whatever that means and whatever those are: a daft and impertinent instruction, in my view, but not necessarily useless, if you like that sort of thing.

If you're worried that you don't give your "soul", or your "whole self" or your "hundred percent" to a dance, whatever any of that is supposed to mean, and you feel a bit inadequate and as though you might be Not The Right Sort Of Person, or perhaps even Not The Right Nationality, and perhaps you should just give up and go home because you'll never ever be accepted here, or if you feel as though you're being asked to be less than yourself or to pretend to be something you're not, stop. I don't think it makes a lot of sense to create imaginary demons (still less borrow someone else's) and let them beat you up.

It might be better to ask yourself what you've got. I bring what I've got. Some of what I've got is:

A willingness (in this context) to feel the fear and do it anyway
A sense of humour
An emotional connection with the music
A strong disinclination to take any crap from anyone at all
A Bullshit detector
A lively curiosity to know what other people have got.

This seems to be, at least, a pretty good substitute for whatever some people call, soul. At any rate, it seems to be good enough for them. And perhaps it is the same thing. That's not given to us to know, about ourselves or about anybody else. Be honest and be brave, concentrate, do the best you can, be willing to make mistakes, and I reckon it'll be all right.


ghost said...

It's the aspect of you that is beyond words. I can experience its effects but I can't verbalise them.

Or put another way, it's why Reinhart was wrong when he said
"Women are interchangable"

In dance each person feels unique if they have the courage to be themselves.

This is not always a good thing...

Anonymous said...

I think that once we put our egos to the side, our true self or soul takes over and it will take what is available to make itself happy.

If it finds that it is not satisfied, it will move on to something else that will make it so. You can't force your soul to do anything it doesn't want to. For someone to tell you what you must do is not actually a soulful thing to say in my opinion.

Just because we have a willingness to connect on the dance floor, it doesn't mean that a true connection will occur as it is dependent on another. We can only do the best we can. Once we decide to accept a dance, it is then we must reveal our true selves and let ourselves be totally in the moment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

And that is Tango, as in life. :)

I think you bring a lot more than you realise to your dance. I have seen you.

maya said...

It's all about semantics, with as many meanings to those words as people. I just pick and mix.
I do not trust teachers that try to impose them on their students, arrogant beyond belief.

David Bailey said...

I'm not a big fan of people talking about "soul", but that's probably partially me being English.

I guess my main problem is that I simply don't understand what people mean when they say things like "express your soul".

I'll give those teachers the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that they know what they mean, but even so, I don't.

Bah, hippie nonsense, bah.

Game Cat said...

"Be honest and be brave, concentrate, do the best you can, be willing to make mistakes, and I reckon it'll be all right."

The best advice I've heard in a long time, for dancing tango and for lots of other things. You reckoned right! :-)

msHedgehog said...

@Game Cat, nice to see you back. I've turned comments moderation on ;)

Melina Sedo said...

In my opinion, the instruction "dance with your soul" or "heart" is very often an excuse to not pay attention to technique, either by teachers, who do not really know, how to explain a movement or aspect of the dance correctly or by students, who are too afraid or lazy to change bad habits. I've seen lots of people "dancing with their sould" very badly, pulling their partner off axis, not caring about the dancefloor and totally disconnected to the music.
Maybe I'm too german, but I really think, that "soul and heart" will come as a result of real comfort in the dance based on control of movement. And that does not come without a honest's days work. ;-)

msHedgehog said...

@Melina, yeah; I guess any kind of bullshit creates that situation. Maybe that's what bullshit is for. Definitely not a good idea to buy the hype if somebody does tell us we dance with soul!