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  • Writer's picturePamela Poole

The Matador and the Cape - Life-Dance Lessons About Being a Partner

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Nimeno's Statue in Arles, France; photo by Dennis Jarvis

"Dance with me." Alejandro, the Matador in Hugo, Painter Place Saga Book 2

Recently, I read about an television interview that once took place with a professional dancer. When he was asked about the greatest lesson his parents had taught him about being a partner, his response was that they'd taught him to always be at 100% for each other. His father described his role in the partnership as being the "frame," and his wife as being the "art."

The dancer's father went on to explain that in a dance such as the Paso, the man is the matador and the woman represents his cape. Despite the need to concentrate on making the correct moves himself, he must also be sure that she flourished at the end of his arm. By being a great "frame" for his wife, this husband was the key to his wife's reputation as one of the best female Latin dancers to ever grace the floor. For readers who've enjoyed my second novel, Hugo, you know why this interview arrested my attention. American artist Caroline Painter's home is destroyed by historic Hurricane Hugo in 1989, forcing her to go to Arles, France, where her uncle is filming a movie about a Matador in the Roman Amphitheater. In a bizarre twist of events, Caroline must become the Matador's Cape in an artistic dance feature for the movie - and the Matador is a dashing actor with quite a reputation for being hard to get along with. The film is focused on the life of the Matador, and he wears a traditional "suit of lights" that includes a beautiful cape. But bullfighters only wear the suit's cape for the parade, then it is taken it off for the dangerous role of taming the bull. It is carefully hung before distinguished attendees to the arena, to honor and impress them. In Caroline's unexpected role in the Matador's Cape dance scene, the Matador's triumph is the focus, not the cape with his suit of lights. In that way, she isn't the cape he's using to lure the bull, for that would put her in danger. In the creativity of the dance, her skirt is used once to represent the cape he's luring the bull with, but then Caroline's role is to twirl away to the side. She's protected in the background until he seeks her in victory.

Painter Place and Hugo, the first two novels in the Painter Place Saga.

Bulls are not killed in the bullfights in Arles, France, and celebrities such as the famed artist Picasso enjoyed the events at the Roman Amphitheater. At the time of this novel, Caroline has arrived near the end of the centennial of Vincent Van Gogh's celebrated work there. The story in Hugo nears its conclusion at Painter Place again, with the annual New Year's Eve Ball in the old French Colonial mansion. To welcome the new decade of the 1990's to the hurricane-ravaged island, Caroline's husband and lifelong love, Chad Gregory, will dedicate a dance with her. Some of the flowing moves he leads her into echo the movie role that guests will see her dancing in during the year ahead, but with an important distinction. In Chad's life-dance, his partner, Caroline, is always the shining star - not the background.

It's always been you

The Painter Place Saga and Hugo can be found on this website, or anywhere online that books are sold, including Walmart, via their new platform with Kobo Books! To read about the interview with the professional dancer mentioned, see Dancing Through Life, Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure.

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