The Tango Lesson


I recently went to a new writer’s group. We were tasked with writing for ten minutes about ‘The sound of clouds’, ‘the taste of a book’, and ‘the feel of an echo’. The specific prompt was ‘when I lifted my arm’. This is somewhat more abstract than I am accustomed to, but here is what I came up with.

The tango lesson was not going well. When I lifted my arm, I could feel my instructor, Raoul, back away in frustration. I stopped and looked into his eyes.

“I’m not getting it, am I?”

“Mrs. Dufrene, I apologize for my frustration. You have the steps down perfectly. I wish that all of my students picked up the choreography so well.”

“Please, call me Linda, Raoul. I need you to explain to me what I am missing.”

“Yes, Linda, I will try. It’s more of a…how you say, translation problem? You see, when I speak in Spanish, the words can be translated to English, but much of the feelings, they are lost. It is very hard for me to explain, particularly in English.”

“I’m really trying to understand. I need to be ready for the competition.”

“Do not think of competition. Think of the feel of an echo, or the sound of clouds.”

“Ooh, that’s a little abstract for me, Raoul. Can you demonstrate?”

Raoul paused for a moment and began to move. I recognized that he was doing my part of the dance.

“You see here, where you lift your arm? There is a passion or an expression of the dancer’s feeling that is implied rather than demonstrated.”

“You mean like when lovers communicate with their eyes?”

“In a way, I suppose. It’s more about the immersion of the spirit into the dance.”

I tried to emulate his steps.

“No, this isn’t it. I’m mimicking, not dancing.”

“Try closing your eyes. Think of…of…the taste of a book. Use all of your senses.”

I nodded and closed my eyes. I began to move and glided around the dance floor.

“I can feel it!”

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