It Takes Two to Two Step

Kelli - ceiling

Kelli - ceiling

“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak” – Hopi Indian Saying

I’ve been dancing a lot lately – two step, cha cha, waltz, triple step, triple two step. These dances are different from line dancing, different from the kind of dance I do around my living room when my favorite song comes on, different from the movement encouraged in some of my yoga classes. They are different precisely because they require two people.

It is impossible to two step alone.

Two step requires specific footwork from the two people performing the dance. Their feet move at the same time to the same rhythm – quick, quick, slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow. It is not a stationary dance or a dance to be performed alone, but a partner dance and one that progresses around the floor.

Two step requires a specific frame and an even pressure between the couple as they progress around the floor. Without a solid frame, it becomes much harder to gauge your partner’s intention – does he want to turn, to change directions, to continue moving forward – and it becomes much harder to provide feedback for your partner.

Two step requires progress. It is a dance designed to move around the floor, through space and time, and to do so together. The frame allows the couple to continue moving forward, relying on the connection and feedback from one another to determine the appropriate pace for the dance.

Two step requires careful attention to the rhythm of the music. It is a dance that can move quickly or at a much slower count depending on the song being played. The song determines the movement, the song determines the speed at which the dance progresses and the song must be the same song for both individuals performing the dance.

Two step requires practice and patience, both with the steps and with your partner. It is a dance that gets better with attention, intention and communication. It grows with time, it becomes more elaborate with time and it finds its natural rhythm with time. It may not come easy, especially when adding a new element to the dance, but it is one that can blossom when given the space and encouragement to develop.

Two step requires flexibility. Not every song will turn out the same, nor will every moment on the dance floor be filled with grace. Sometimes the dance gets messy, our feet get tangled, our steps don’t connect the way they once did. In those moments, it is best – in my opinion – to do a silly little dance, smile with your partner, reconnect your frame and begin again.

The two step often finds its way off the dance floor and into friendship, work and our relationship with God. Not one of those things is a solitary existence.

Friendship requires the commitment and the investment of two people. If either person is stepping to a different rhythm, the dance will collapse. If there is no stepping, no progress at all, the dance will stagnate and eventually cease. But with a commitment to learning the rhythm together, and to listening to the music creating the foundation for the dance, a friendship can grow into something extraordinary.

Work is about the dance of the two people involved in a particular project, the dance of two companies providing a service, the dance of an employee-employer relationship seeking the best possible outcome. It is a dance that can easily become strained or stagnant if the partners are listening to different music or have different intentions. It is one that can collapse if there is no frame or foundation. But it is also one that can flourish when complementarity, connection and community are valued over competition.

Learning the most important Dance also requires practice. It requires a frame and a connection. It requires patience and flexibility. It requires footwork, and it requires progress. Without time dedicated to working on the Dance, it too can stagnate. It can become something – and Someone – I used to know.

This Dance isn’t always going to be smooth, it isn’t always going to be easy and it certainly isn’t always going to move at the same pace. Sometimes this Dance will glide gracefully across the floor; each step, each movement complemented by the movement of the Other. And other times, this Dance will get messy, our rhythm will be off and our footwork tangled. In those moments, we can do a silly little dance, smile with our Partner, reconnect our frame and begin again.

It takes two to two step.

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4 thoughts on “It Takes Two to Two Step”

  1. Sister M. Lalemant Pelikan, rs

    There are a number of other things that can’t be done by just one — like holding a great conversation, playing many games & sports, Band and Orchestra music, Performing Arts, etc. It would be interesting to develop these as analogies, too, but you have chosen a perfect image, since the “dance” (or perichoresis) of the Trinity is one of the richest images in our Catholic heritage! Love it!

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