Updated: Jul 25
A few years ago, I took pole dancing classes. The ethereal Amanda Wing at The Pole Garage was my instructor, and she was terrific—she taught me to fly. But Jo Ngan, taught me to climb a pole--not an easy task that I, however, achieved pretty fast, and fairly gracefully. It's about resilience combined with grace, endurance, and a perfect combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises highly recommended to everyone. Summer Project. New Year Project. New Life Project--love thyself.
Then, I needed my iron will to grasp grace as I would learned to rise. I wanted to climb obstacles and twirl, dance, celebrate that I've lived over half a century, embrace my aging body--I was finally appreciating this vessel carrying me through this experience in this time and place, and I wanted to honor it. Yo quería trepar mi propio cuerpo. Yo quería abrazar mi propio cuerpo. Amarlo. Amarme. Cuidarme.
It was a mix of me nearing my fifties, feeling the gravity (and the gravitas) of over two decades of studies, and teaching, and writing that all that is me, "I'm large, I contain multitudes," wanted to feel lightness and light rushing through me.
So many books over my head had kept my spine aligned and my walk tall and straight but I had been missing the light while holding the torch. Now, I wanted to learn to fly and feel the opposite of gravity: levity. I wanted to feel (the) light inside me.
I've always dreamt about writing a scene as an ekphrasis of music and dance. But, how do I translate music and corporeal expression into visual words? I wondered.
Undertaking such a task entailed that I summoned up forces. It had to be a combined task that called upon many of my identities: the poet, the writer, the wife of a musician, the woman who refuses to relinquish sensuality at the sight of gray hair and wrinkles around her eyes...
In surety, I knew I needed to conjure up creative cross-pollinations between words, music, dance, and song. So, there, Yours Truly for words, Federico Ramos for music, Jo Ngan for dance, and Magaluna for mastering and teaching me video editing as she crafts her own songwriting. Synergy!
I dreamt the whole scene. Literally.
I often wear my characters' clothes--I borrow them from them. I saw myself wearing my protagonist's baby blue three pieces suit. I fixed Liam's blue tie with forget-me-not cerulean and pink flowers in front of a mirror in a hotel, and i think that at one point the hotel was in Saint Thomas, Virgin Island, I am not sure why. Sometimes, dreams are dreams. I saw me in disguise as a method actor, entering a club in Seattle after a rainy night where Liam and Brook had understood too that life is about spinning and twirling around the sun as gracefully as possible, mindfully.
I saw them having breakfast at a quaint mansion in the middle of a world that vanished quickly at the sight of love, in the sighing of love.
Immanence. Impermanence. Transcendence.
I asked Federico to help me narrate the music. He told me about the sections in the musical chart of a tune played by Jeff Beck's 'Cause We Ended as Lovers, that I had danced for him in the fascination stage in the inception of our love affair. Federico worked hard to find a means to express music in aural, visual, and kinesthetic words so that I could translate them into plain English words. He clapped and tapped his foot, but I could only see the light spanning the sea at night.
I heard wolves howling to the moon at Mountain Rainier, rain falling outside a club, and I heard Earth spinning around the sun very fast. He helped me interpret what the instruments were doing, how the musicians in a band cued each other, or how the instruments repeated note sequences and such.
Federico Ramos taught me to envision music and movement so that I could translate them into palabras.
So, while my husband was describing tempo and identifying notes and the sounds they produced, I closed my eyes and visualized music with colors and shapes synesthetically:
I could feel the air on my cheek, the sound of the rain in Seattle falling on the grayish streets. I could foresee the scenes after the performance at The Spinoff in a quaint hotel near Capitol Hill. And all I saw was truth and beauty. I heard love as a mantra flowing from within.
I've watched a lot of videos performed by Jo Ngan. I confess that I drool over the eroticism and ethereality of her corporeal expression and fluid movement. She is gorgeous and incredibly agile, and her body aesthetics yield a new way to understand beauty. So I crafted metaphors for each of her steps and designed a routine, jumping beyond the physicality of place and being to experiencing air. And thus, I imagined Lily, the dancer in chapter 14, "May the Soft Rain Fall Upon You," tallying Jo's moves, emulating her aesthetics of pole dancing; And I attempted to craft her sensual and ethereal movements while owning the air, while my words defied gravity.
I typed the whole scene out of my tenacity of waking up at dawn, dancing at the beach, and then pouring words that I had no idea were fetching meaning, clinging to the skylight of my page.
May you dance, tallying the howls of your own guitar. May you take a fearless flight and remain suspended in ether. Should you free fall, darling, may you land on your feet, on high ground, breathing purifying O2 in sheer gratitude for the mantra of love.
Excerpt from a relentless work in progress
– Cecilia Martinez-Gil’s novel manuscript –
Sunshower [Lluvia con Sol] ©
More spins and full body undulations succeeded. Lily’s legs opened in a perfect A shape, then she lifted them up switching to a V shape, moving her feet in, curled—and her entire legs showed muscled, taut, tight, as they pressed against gravity.
The B section repeated at 1:00. Lily twirled to face the pole. She loosened the shirt on her right arm, which fell to her left, languidly, rolling down her left arm, and showing her butt divided by the orange thong, which displayed two perfect orange-like-shaped buttocks, and her honey-tanned skin. She twirled on the pole, dexterously.
Sensuality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Its fierce, primal power surges, in ebbs and flows, though steadily triggering all the senses, making the heartbeat pump blood to rush through the rivers within—being human breathing divinity.
Lily at the Spinoff
Jo Ngan - dancer.
Federico Ramos- lead guitar on Stevie Wonder's ‘Cause We Ended as Lovers, as interpreted by Jeff Beck