The pivot: The excellent adventures of a student supporter (SSP)

(March 18): There’s something about wearing a uniform that gives you a buzz, makes you think you know things, makes you cooler and calmer about going places than you’d ever be if you were wearing your own not-so-spiffy dance shirt and tights…

And that’s how I’ve come to be part of this end of term Lead/Follow short course workshop on this particular Monday night. As one of the workshop’s Student Supporters, I’m wearing my (spiffy) Student Supporter uniform and listening to the Academy’s director, Tarcisio, explain to some twenty avid student dancers how to pivot.

I misguidedly think: “Pivot=turning on the spot=EASY.” Instead of listening to what’s being said about positioning, I’m happily losing myself in Tarcisio’s marvellous Brazilian accent; delighting in the beautiful attention everyone else is paying to his words; and applauding his careful demonstrations.

When it comes time to find a partner and practice pivoting together, I’m in a pretty cool place because I’m wearing my confidence-boosting Student Supporter t-shirt-uniform. I smile at the follower who claims me as her leader (because of my t-shirt).

We stand facing each other. The music starts, I step forward (she’s to step back), I angle my shoulders (she’s to turn her body to keep the distance between us constant), and then I apply the foot-pivot-angles and the leg-weight-shifts Tarcisio has been talking about. All the while, I’m thinking: “EASY! I know this.” But, no. Instead of coming out of the pivot-and-turn ready to travel stylishly in the opposite direction, I’m stuck, trying to step where my partner’s standing. We look at each other with perplexed faces. The music stops. We give a limp high five and change partners.

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More awkward bumping. I raise my hand. SOS. When Tarcisio responds, even though the “know-it-all-uniform-effect” has me deep-down thinking, “It’s not me, it’s her,” I say, “I’m making a mess of this.” I show Tarcisio how we’re stepping on each other. He smiles gently. Puts a hand to each of my shoulders, turns and adjusts my position. Watches with satisfaction as the leader he’s just fixed pivots and changes her weight and guides her follower stylishly this way, then that. “It wasn’t her,” I’m thinking, mortified. “It was me.”

The class finishes. Dancers drift to the door. My first step-and-turn partner bounces up to me with a smile. “Can I show you?” she says. She takes my hand. Back-leads me. This time, we step-and-turn perfectly beautifully. She SMILES perfectly beautifully. And I think, “Lesson learned.”

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