Focusing our vision all the way across the dance halls, seeking an eye contact with the one and the only one we want to spend the proverbial quarter of an hour of a tanda ... I'm sure all of us remember the thrill of a successful cabeceo. The meeting of the eyes, the soft spark. We also remember the occasional misfires, those embarrassing moments when your supposedly laser-precise line of sight hits an unintended "target". Ouch!
But in this post I am going to concentrate on a different side of cabeceo: on our ability to see without focusing our vision. When I look around a milonga floor, checking who is around and who is up for what, it feels as if my vision stays purposefully slightly unfocused. Have you ever noticed that? Have you noticed that whenever your eyes meet, by chance, with the eyes of someone you don't intend to dance with, you end up slightly unfocusing and shifting your gaze with a very peculiar haste? The task there is not to see anything other than by using your peripheral vision. The direct look is strictly reserved for just one (but extremely important) target. Must not focus on anything else.
|The whole world becomes a blur as the magic of the dance unfolds|
"Mia en la Milonga" by Mauro Moreno
|Dave Donatiu with Talyaa Liera|
at their wedding reception/
cancer fundraising last month
Ideally, it means that one should be able to appraise the dangers, to navigate, and to keep my partner safe, with the peripheral vision alone, almost without shifting the focus. And if our eyes meet someone else's gaze, then we can let it slip out of focus right away... Indeed, I find it hard to observe who is doing what when I dissolve in the music and in the moment of dance. Take a look at Mauro Moreno's painting again. Do you see what I see? The world around blurs out of focus as the couple is overcome by togetherness and being in the moment.
|On top of the fortress walls of Kumbalgarh, India|
Keeping our focus on ourselves and our dance, and devoting just enough peripheral vision to the surroundings without spreading our creative attention thin, is about more than just navigating the floor and being aware of the physical objects around us. I also try hard to keep all the social disappointments and slights, all the unfriendly gossip and caustic remarks, outside of my circle of attention, where they barely register in my peripheral vision. The cabeceo power of laser-sharp focusing on a point can make all the bad stuff fade from out of focus!