It's easy to take pot-shots from the peanut gallery. Both artists are excellent dancers and superstars and I would be honoured to be in the same hundred-mile radius as either. But, that said, why do I love Javier like nobody's business and can take or leave Ezequiel? It's not just that he's totally cute....

My opinion is irrelevant. The only person whose opinion matters is Geraldin Everybody's Favourite Dancer, and she has cast her vote. But, “really?” I say. “Really?” When I watch Ezequiel dancing with her, I don't see a pair of equals. Which may be why she prefers him—maybe it's just too hard to have two of a kind in one relationship. But Geraldin is this fiery passionflower, this lioness, this force of nature, and Ezequiel is just a guy. Yes, when he dances with her he dances from his scary place, and he gets naked. But I still see him maintaining a consciousness of self. Yes, we need to maintain our own axes at all times otherwise we can't dance. But I see a remaining layer of something coming between him and giving himself fully over to the moment. I see him doing moves. I see him being aware of the audience. I see him saying, “yeah, I'm dancing with Geraldin, look at me, I'm the cat's tamales.” And I always feel like, the minute you as a dancer feel any of that on the inside, let alone allow it to show on the outside, the dance is over. It's fine to feed off the energy of the audience, it's fine to be proud of your partner—but performing, even during a performance, is not making love. What arises spontaneously within a couple during the most private of moments is nobody's business. (Which is why I always feel ethically uncertain about watching tango. Is it morally degenerate of me to invade someone's else's realization of the moment?)

Javier, on the other hand, has the most impressive cojones of anyone ever, because he completely gets out of his own way, every time he dances. His outsides drop away entirely and all that's left is his heart. When I see him dance, I don't see a man at all, and I don't even see “his heart” so much as I see an energetic embodiment of the music, the moment, and the connection. He connects more than any other dancer I've seen, of either gender.

Even very great dancers usually are only very great with one partner (I'll say “maybe two” not because I've seen that happen but because I can't swear that it doesn't). Lorena with Osvaldo?  From the very beginning, it was like, I need a fresh pair of knickers. Electricity. They take each step with something that isn't fear but is related to it. But Lorena with Fabian?  There's a difference between being passionate people and being passionate about each other. You're both awesome dancers, but when you look comfortable, well...that's nice, dears. Not every dance can come from our scary place. Different people pull different essential elements out of us and some people just pull the right amazing thing out and catalyze explosions of artistic evolution.

Gabriel with Analía is clean, elegant, clean...elegant....  But Natalia shook Gabriel out of his Clean and Elegant and made him dance, not like a maestro, but like a flesh-and-blood man helpless in the clutches of a force greater than he.  Analía is precise and smooth. But Natalia is a knife-fighter. She's like, “oh, yeah? You think you can dance with me?” And you can see the Great Gabriel getting all unhinged, losing his famous cool altogether. “Gah!” say his feet, in a mounting frenzy of “oh, yeah?”

Virginia does something to Maxi that he can't control, and after they dance, it's like, “where's a mop?” This is perfectly understandable. If I couldn't be me, I would rather be Virginia than anybody else, because she's so droolingly delicious. Maxi simply has excellent taste in women. But when he dances with other, less-Virginia women, he's earnest, he gives his heart, he wants the woman to be happy, but...it's not incendiary. When everybody sits down, the universe will be pretty much the way it was before. There isn't that stark awareness of, “my God, anything could happen.”

What's so unusual about Javier is he melts into the moment and the pareja every time. I personally like the balance of energies between Geraldin and he best and think that theirs was one of those sublime dance unions, like Pavlova and Nijinsky, Nureyev and Fonteyn, Baryshnikov and Kirkland. Their dancing created a whole new level of “come with me, baby, and we'll make beautiful art together” in the universe. But I see just as much beautiful connection between Javier and Andrea.  A differently beautiful connection. I see him saying, “I am just a humble man but it is my Sacred Duty to take extra good care of this one. I have to protect her.” (I wonder if he knew.... It is a great tragedy that even such protection is not always enough.)

And Javier and Virginia.   I see understanding. He connects first with himself, and all the feelings and all the history that led him to the moment of the dance. Then he gives all that to the moment and the woman in front of him, and they bring the dance out of him.

All different, all incontrovertible, all true.  His whole heart is in it, every time. He is a heartist.

The following is my all-time favourite dance clip. The first time I saw it I was still a Muggle in repurposed ballroom shoes and I thought, “that is the most beautiful thing, in a universe full of things, that I have ever seen in my whole entire life.” I've seen it about a bazillion times since then. And every time I see it I think, “that is the most beautiful thing, in a universe full of things, that I have ever seen in my whole entire life.” Let's hear it for heartistry.

Javier Rodriguez y Geraldin Rojas. Poema, Francisco Canaro

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