Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In the Inflection

On Sunday I performed for the "Artists in Concert" show at the Performing Arts Center here in town. The studio is run by a couple who are great friends of ours. Joey choreographed several of the dance numbers and Nanci danced in two of the dances. I suppose it has been 16 years, at least, since I have seen Nanci dance full out in a performance, perhaps even longer. In the days when she was dancing more than teaching we were on tour with the Doug Henning Magic Show. I have seen her dance lots of times but just not recently. I was impressed that Nanci was dancing so beautifully with dancers half her age.
When I got home from rehearsals the day before the concert I was trying to tell Sandi how good Nanci was in the show. I said, "Nanci can dance!" Sandi replied something to the effect of "naturally" "of course" or some other acknowledgement.
At the show Nanci came up to me and said I had been busted. Sandi told her what I said when I got home from rehearsal, only the inflection of my words had changed. Sandi recalled to Nanci that I said, "Nanci can Dance?" with a question mark. That is not the intent nor the inflection with which I delivered the original statement. It also changes the entire context of the statement. I spent several minutes trying to tell Nanci that I was not shocked by her abilities but continually impressed after all these years. Of course stressing "all these years" is never a good thing to do to any woman. So my damage control had to be controlled itself. She is a good enough friend that no matter how she really took it, she will never let me forget it. That is our relationship, and I love her for it.
So to all the artists and gentlemen reading. This is a cautionary tale. When giving a compliment to a lady you have know for a long time... choose your words and your inflection very carefully and hope that it is not corrupted in translation.
As you were,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you recovered well, but that's good advice. Your comments on inflection reminded me of a theatre game where the students had to deliver "What is this thing called love" with different emphasis/inflection to change the meaning. Safer in class than in life.