Thursday, February 13, 2014

Marriage On Ice

After a long day I curled up next to Counting Mutant in bed. We began our wind down process; he on his ipad and me on my android. Just as I began to feel drowsy, a blog title caught my eye on Twitter: An Olympic Lesson for Husbands and Wives.

Within two paragraphs I laughed. Mutant turned, I read it aloud. He scoffed, “Well, that’s obviously someone who has never partnered.”

I've mentioned a few times that we are a family of dancers. Ase and Zany started dance when they were nine and ten. They practiced, ballet, jazz, modern, tap and hip-hop. They did other sports as well, but in Jr. High they focused on dance. Counting Mutant decided to figure out a way to join them. His thinking was: if they were in football, soccer, baseball, etc. he would help with the team and support them. It so happened that the role of the Nutcracker needed to be filled and Mutant became the wooden hero.

Over the years, the three of them performed together in Nutcrackers, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Coppelia, and Les Miserables. In order to perform these ballet pieces, our studio formed a partnering class. Partnering at this level-either dance or ice skating- is not as simple as a man leading a woman.

I read it to the boys.

Ase said: That does not sound like ANY partnering class we've been in.

Zany said, “The beauty and perfection cannot happen if one person believes they are better than the other.”

Counting Mutant explains it like this, “There has to be trust and equal effort if not more by the woman. He throws her yes, but she is jumping just as much if not more. There is no leading they equally know the steps. They are coordinating their actions. They have to be equally strong to compete at that level. To learn it and perfect it, there was action, feedback, back and forth, action again, mistakes, coordinated improvement, until the both trust in their coordinated actions. If one is dominating or leading too much, it doesn't work.”

Under the beautiful costumes and graceful movements is a well guarded secret. Women dancers have to be physically strong, capable and know their own center of gravity. Along with their strength, men have be in tune with their partner. In order for him to lift her with a look of ease, she must bend her knees and jump: plie. Her core muscles engage and hold her center of balance. Her arms and shoulders control her direction.


In twirling and catching, her whole body engages as she plies. He lifts. They read each other’s center of gravity and shift to match-equally. The illusion of unity. She jumps into his arms and he adds his strength to her motion. He directs that motion to a mutually agreed spot for her to land. The combination creates incredible lift that defies gravity. The partners work in tandem for a common goal.

The illusion of dance and ice skating is to suspend reality. We think of them as super human, possessing qualities we don’t have. What we miss seeing are the hours of rehearsal. The mistakes both make. The falls. The injuries. The blood and bruises. By the time the pair enters the ice we see the fruit of their hard work. The art. The perfection.

Marriage, like dance and pairs ice skating, is work. Sometimes the man takes the lead, other times the woman. They are partners equally engaged and responsible to create something beautiful.

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