I could have danced all night…

I could have danced all night…

I could have danced all night…

There’s romance, and then there’s romance that incorporates dance and makes you feel like Baby in Dirty Dancing.

There’s a good reason why most good romance films incorporate a dance between the lovers at some point – there is no clearer, more evocative way to convey passion and vulnerability than through dance.

As MarthaGraham said, ‘Dance is the hidden language of the soul.’ The limits of language fall away. Distance diminishes. Conventions are cast off. Touch is permitted, and sensual. The rhythm of the heart is deafening. The world falls away, and all that exists is two people, dancing.

Dance is the medium through which lovers may explore, define and develop their relationship. Take this scene from my novel The Echoes of Love:

And then – then Paolo was before her. The crowd seemed to melt away and all she saw were those burning sapphire eyes that never left her face as he moved intently towards her. Venetia caught her breath as a curious lifting sensation blossomed inside her at the sight of him. He gave as formal a bow as if she was a great lady and this a ceremonial occasion.

‘You’re going to dance,’ he almost whispered in his low baritone voice as he took her hand and drew her firmly towards him.

Whatever might be happening inside her, in her rational mind Venetia knew she must never allow him, or any other person, to establish this sort of ascendancy over her.  … So although she allowed his pull on her hand to draw her slightly forwards, she looked him straight in the eye and smiled.

‘Yes, I probably am going to dance – if someone asks me.’

‘But that, divina, is exactly what I’m doing.’

Her head went up as a rebellious flame lit the amber irises. ‘It’s exactly what you are not doing. You’re telling me, which I thought we’d established I’m allergic to.’

Paolo’s eyes still held hers; devilish, amused eyes, showing he was entertained rather than offended by Venetia’s remonstrations.

‘One does have to be precise with you, I see.’

She was pleased that she had been able to assert her feelings, despite his unnerving effect on her; but also found herself relieved that he hadn’t taken umbrage.

‘It’s advisable, as a rule, to be precise, don’t you think?’

He laughed and almost swung her off her feet into his arms, and she surrendered to him, letting him draw her away. He held her close, with his head bent so that his lean, brown cheek was lightly touching hers. Like a knowing reprise, the familiar sound of Mina’s ‘Il Cielo in una Stanza’ floated around them once more, as it had done the first night they met in the San Marco café.  Their steps in perfect accord, moving together as one, they gave themselves up to the nostalgic love song. They danced in silence, their eyes never meeting, lulled by Mina’s warm voice, the gently pulsating rhythm and its soaring violins, like two people in a dream. Only Paolo’s arms spoke, clasping Venetia closer and closer, and her body responded, yielding to him. His hand hardly brushed against her bare shoulders, but his feathery touch scorched her to the core and her whole being came alive. Pressing herself against the tautly muscled length of him, Venetia felt his need for her and the heat of desire flooded her. An involuntary sigh floated from her lips and so, slowly, he drew her even further into his embrace. She felt as if she was slowly spinning and falling, and he with her, as if they were both being pulled by a current they could not resist, even if they had tried.

In romantic dance, so many customs apply – the most interesting of which, I find, is the dominance of the man. The man asks, the lady accepts. The man leads, the lady follows. But here, Paolo goes beyond asking – ‘You’re going to dance,’ he tells Venetia. And while deep down Venetia may find such alpha-male behavior rather attractive, she can’t possibly allow him to take the upper hand so easily, and nor will the romantic in her accept his deviation from the rules. So she makes it clear that he should ask, not tell. And then… well, and then somehow before she knows it they’re dancing – he’s gone beyond telling and simply swung her off her feet, and she’s surrendered. Because who can resist a man who wants to dance?

Like two animals engaged in a mating ritual, the time for making a show and fighting a corner is over – now, they have entered into the spell cast by the dance. A quietness, a calm descends; the thin sheen of the bubble surrounds them. For Venetia, especially, ‘surrender’ is the key word. All her struggle for independence, all her insistence on being respected as a strong equal, all the fear of feeling for Paolo, the dance cannot contain that. All it can contain is two people dancing with hearts beating as one; with souls connecting and melding.

But what happens when the music ends? There is a moment of entranced silence, and then the spell is broken. Paolo leaves. Venetia is alone. But the change that was been wrought through a single dance is immeasurable in its impact. There is no taking back a dance,and both lovers will always wish they could go back to that moment and live in it.

So there you have it, the romance of dance. The magic of that moment you’re dancing, and then the way it makes you feel every time you drift into memories. We may not let our feelings out like her, but deep down we’re all like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady – when the partner is right, we could dance all night.

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