the threat that keeps from thrashing

the ambiguity of dominance (who is the tamer and who the tamed) is so clear in this national ballet presentation of “the taming of the shrew.” i’m trying to express how that tension exists.

it exists more cleanly when it is less overt. the hovering hand. the threat. knowing it’s there is to be constantly aware of the possibility of that pressure, that holding that you get from thrashing, but without thrashing. it is in those moments where petruchio has dominance, but doesn’t exert it, doesn’t flaunt it.

in petruchio’s first seductions, kate trashes and he holds her. with her arms above her head, a nelson. and it’s that moment like in “dirty dancing” where johnny castle brings penny’s arms over her head, and strokes down under her arm, and she tickles. that whole-body aliveness that makes ticklish, that makes tender. he has her tender, and that’s his way in. he holds her tenderness, he takes it in trust. he carries the responsibility of it, instead of taking it lightly or recklessly. anyone else would wag it over her head, flaunt that minor victory. instead, gratitude. he take her leash and hands it back to her. he doesn’t do a power-dance of it, stomp all about. he hands her back her leash.


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