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That Dance

August 6, 2009

There’s this thing that moves me no matter how often I see it, and that’s the “This Woman’s Work” dance between Melissa and Ade on SYTYCD. Most of the time I sit while I watch this show with my computer on my lap or laundry to fold, or at times even a book on Kindle…anything to divert my attention. I’m a multi-tasker in the extreme when it comes to television, unless the show or the task requires a fully engaged brain. I remember the first time that it came on the screen though, several weeks ago, that this song and dance caught my attention though, gripped it, and wouldn’t let go.


It’s a tribute to anyone suffering personally with cancer (breast cancer specifically), helping someone deal with cancer, or just heartbroken by the reality of cancer’s fingerprint in their life. It gave me goosebumps and a cloggy throat to watch.


I think we’ve all been there in some way or another. We’ve all had the relative or friend who either suffered and thankfully, blessedly recovered…or else didn’t. We’ve all had the fear that one day we might wake up the woman in the dance—too young, too tragic, too…late. Or at least, I’ve had that fear. Maybe it’s my own personal paranoia, brought about by seeing my too-young grandmother succumb to a violent ovarian cancer when I was eight.


What was it about that dance that was so significant? What graced it with the power to choke me with tears for a second time when it was repeated tonight for the finale? I’ve been struggling to figure it out, watching it on YouTube a few times and trying to take it apart—analyze its gift. I think it comes down to a few things.


It’s only a little over a minute long, but in that brief amount of time, I believe it encapsulates with every compact line and yet soaring movement this man and this woman’s realization of certain incorruptible truths. There are endless quantities of naked emotion in this dance—it’s humbling to watch. You are witness to the man’s Strength, and knowledge that if he could, if he were allowed by the power that is, he would hold that woman here with his strength. As it is, he holds her up when there is Weariness for her to battle through, as there increasingly is. There is Frustration, that Strength is not enough—not enough to hold her here, not enough to heal her. Then there is Love—it is a balm—a sad one, with just a trace of hope and longing, sad because there is uncertainty yet. We do not know how this woman’s work will end.


I love this dance, because not only does it tell the story of a man and a woman beating back cancer together, but just facing adversity together in general. This is partnership. This is marriage. This is how you lean.

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