Sunday, February 6, 2011

I don't feel like dancing

The other weekend I was at a batizado in Knoxville for Fundo da Mata, a group under Mestre Acordeon, with fellow capoeristas from Capoeira Angola Palmares Nashville. On Saturday we were supposed to do a samba and maculele workshop; I was disappointed that there ended up not being time for the maculele portion.

Samba is danced in two ways. The first is in groups, like the parades of Carnival. It's a parade, of course, so the dancers are moving forward as they dance, and they are unpartnered. The second is in the samba de roda, which is where two dancers are in a circle, and others cut in. Our lesson was focused on the samba de roda.

There are basically three components to the samba. One is the arms, which are quite simple: If you're really stuck, you don't have to do anything with them, really. The second is the footwork, which starts off with a fairly simple step, although one can get much more complicated. The third is the hips, which move with each step, but always in the same way. That doesn't mean the hips are easy, though; it's sort of like bellydancing, where there is a certain knack to getting it.

I stuck with the class for about ten minutes before sitting it out to watch. The teacher was moving at a rather fast pace for me; when I stopped being able to see what it was I was supposed to do with my feet, there was no way I could reproduce it. Moreover, I couldn't get the hips at all.

I'm sure someone is thinking, "Just go with it. No one cares if you get it right away." That's the sort of thing naturally gifted dancers always say. Of course, half the group was talking about One Person's dancing after the class - "I was really surprised to see O.P. dancing - I was trying so hard not to laugh." That's the sort of thing lots of naturally gifted dancers also do, and then they wonder why we get discouraged!

But the truth is, I don't have any interest in mastering the samba. Samba de roda is the kind of thing that would give me nightmares, if I actually ever had them. It pretty much combines everything that makes me cringe inside: Being watched while dancing. Spontaneous physicality. Exaggerated flirting. If you watched the video above past the portion where the little kids are dancing, you can see what I mean.

It's not that I'm opposed to those things in a moral or objective way - they just are so, so, so not me. Consider the following tidbit from a description of my Meyers-Briggs type: "This can make personal relationships difficult, particularly romantic ones that require flirtation.  Coyness and indirectness are not strong points for INTJs*, innocuous play is not at all meaningful and comes across as being stilted." Basically, I feel stupid, and feeling awkward and stupid strongly inhibits sambaing.

If I ever decided there was a reason I ought to samba, I would spend a damn long time in the privacy of my own home, not to mention getting private instruction, before I ever took it out for a twirl in the roda. Yet I doubt I would ever master the art of it, even if I got my hips to do the right thing. I have a hard enough time with the concept of malandragem in capoeira, which basically is a kind of trickery; why not just play straight-forwardly? Keeping your moves open until the last second, so your partner can't anticipate you, makes a kind of sense, but feinting and teasing - ugh.

This is clearly a limitation for me, but at this point in my game I am willing to let certain limitations lie, because there are so many other things to learn that are closer at hand.

* In point of fact, I'm right on the E/I border. Extrovert's "can't not lead" and I's are "socially clueless," neither of which quite describes me - like an Introvert, I will lead where there is a vacuum, but I'm not nearly as Asperger's as the description of INTJ sounds.

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