Today we feature a Q & A session with political dance instructor Chester Card, who is an expert at unraveling complicated steps.
Q: Minnesota's Governor announced yesterday that he won't run for re-election in 2010. What step is he doing?
A: The thing about political dance is that you can never truly be sure what step you're watching until the routine is almost over, but what I see unfolding is The Presidential Dip. It's a wonderful, ritualistic, national dance, both subtle and bold at the same time.
Q: How is it done?
A: First, you pick a direction. Right or Left, it doesn't matter.
Q: Let's say right.
A: Then you start with the right foot forward. The body turns sharply right. Motion, energy, intent ... everything about you is rightward. Then you go right heel-toe, heel-toe, heel-toe like that. With vigor.
Q: And then reverse?
A: No! Never. You must move in your chosen direction consistently, or else you will be doing The Waffle, which is a dance for losers.
Q: Won't you run out of dance floor?
A: If you are no good at The Presidential Dip, then yes, you will run out of dance floor. But the experienced dipper can circle back towards the center while continuing to lead with the right, facing right, and moving right.
Or left, if that's your preference.
This consistent motion enables you to extend your leading hand with a long, graceful sweep, open fingered, in the direction of the audience, who, following the time-honored tradition, will press coins into your palm if they like what you're doing.
Q: And with your trailing hand?
A: Whatever you please. Chopping motions. Nose thumbing. Busy finger work.
This is where the individual expression comes in.
Q: And then you do The Presidential Dip?
A: No. You don't ever do a dip.
Q: I thought you were describing The Presidential Dip. Isn't it a 'toe in the water' dance?
A: Yes, but the Presidential Dip does not involve an actual dip. In fact, when you are doing The Presidential Dip, you indicate with all your movements and your posture that you are not doing any dance at all.
Instead, your body says "I am about to sit down."
Q: That doesn't make any sense.
A: This is the way it's done.
Q: So there's no special signature move in The Presidential Dip?
A: The coin collecting part is special. Very.
Q: But nothing that says ... 'I'm doing this dance'?
A: That move comes near the end and it takes the form of wrist flick, as if one is tossing something.
Q: Like a hat, say?
A: It could be a hat.
Q: Into a ring?
A: No, that's Jarts.
Q: So that's it? A wrist flick?
A: Yes, that's it. But you have to do it at just the right moment. Too early and your dance looks like The Hustle. Too late and it resembles The Jive.
Q: So ... a proper wrist flick at just the right moment is all there is to it?
A: Yes. That's when the observers can say ... "Look. A Presidential Dip!"
Q: Chester Card, political dance instructor, thanks for the lesson.
A: Another thing - if you're doing the P.D., don't do anything at all with your pelvis. Very important.
Personally, I find dance of all kinds to be frightening and stressful. Is anyone here good at dancing? Between us, what steps do we know?