I was thinking about the legend of Salome the other day –this following our regular Coffee after Class on Monday morning. One of my students was talking about her weekend – despite a number of physical difficulties with the onset of osteoporosis, she was thrilled to have danced the night away to no ill effect.
One of her friends, watching her on the dance floor, commented. ‘Bloody hell, I didn’t know you could dance like that!’ To which my student replied ‘Oh yes – I’ve made many a seduction on the dance floor in my time.’
I loved her response - a celebration of dance, of life, and I like to think, of the wonders of Pilates!
It reminded me too of a rather odd incident a long time when I attended a theatre workshop in Nottingham as part of the International Workshop series. After a couple of days working we all had to present a short solo. There was a young woman who opted to perform first as she had to catch a train. We all sat in a circle and she danced. As she danced she took off her clothes. Her body was very beautiful and her dancing light and unbound – she whirled round the space stopping in front of some of the group to dance as if for them alone. I observed a mixture of admiration, irritation, embarrassment on the smiling faces around me. She finished the dance, dressed, and ran off for her train, not stopping long enough to receive either praise or criticism. More self-conscious child than seductress or Goddess, what did she intend us all to feel and think? Was
she showing off? Was this dance a kind of gift?
I wonder about Salome, who danced for Herod her step-father, and whose dance was apparently so powerful that he offered her anything she wished for – even his kingdom. How much was he flaunting his own power – how much was he beguiled by her? What was really going on and how could a girl dancing end in the horror and pity of John the Baptist’s head on a plate? This has fascinated painters, poets, playwrights over centuries. Salome - the innocent or the seductress? The power of sex, and femininity - or the power of dance?
Tricia Durdey dances, writes, and teaches Pilates.