Spencer describes himself as a lover of dance and not a performer. He doesn’t live for the spotlight on the stage, he tells me, quite seriously. He loves the discipline of the art—the rehearsals, the countless runs of the routines, the quest for perfection in a form that’s so fleeting and ephemeral. From the way he describes his passion with dance, I always get the impression he’d be perfectly happy stretching and exercising and running routines from day to day, without ever stepping foot onstage.
But oh, what a performer he is.
It’s Saturday night and I’ve forgone my usual frivolities to attend the second performance of his I’ve seen. The skies dumped four or more inches of snow on the area in the short space of time in the afternoon. The freeways were in terrible condition still. Only a single lane had been passable the entire twenty-five miles I’d driven. The audience is pretty sparse. Many of the middle-aged women who comprise the vast majority sitting in the little theater are still shivering in their woven scarfs and wooly knitted hats.
Then the show starts, and for a couple of hours, we forget about the mountains of snow outside. We forget about winter’s bite, or the long rides home we’ll all have to make. There’s just the music, the dancers, and the light and the darkness.
I’ve told Spencer many times that he has a face made for the stage. His features are sharp, but broad. Every nuance stands out on his face in the dreamy, comedic piece in which he first appears. His seated body sways with the other two dancers onstage, gyrating slowly to the bossa nova rhythms. All three move and swivel in unison, like riders on a turbulent bus, but it’s Spencer that steals all the focus. It’s at his quirked eyebrows the audience laughs, at his comic reactions that a wave of enjoyment sweeps the room. They’re emotions that would be lost on finer faces, but on Spencer’s, they could be seen in the very back row.
There’s pure joy in his stride when he leaps across the stage and lands nimbly on his foot. He uses a metal folding chair in his choreographed moves, brandishing it skyward and twirling it through the air as gracefully as any human partner. When he at last sets it onto the ground, it connects to the floor without a sound. I marvel at that kind of control. Then he’s up and over the chair, his hands gripping its sides as his legs stretch and extend in the air, then descend in a display of artistic athleticism to which I could never aspire, admire it as I may. His right palm lies flat on the floor; his right foot connects several feet to the side. His left leg and arm rise high in the air and stay there for what seems an impossible amount of time. Not once do they waver. His flesh becomes rigid, rooted to the stage, until at last on a downbeat he swoops back into the dance, part of the trio once more.
Two hours later, and another twenty-five miles of snow-covered roads, we’re together again. I’m naked between the flannel sheets, warm below layers of blankets. There’s a cat at my feet, already asleep. From the bathroom Spencer pads in, straight out of the shower. He’s nonchalant about his nakedness as he tosses his clothes atop the dresser. When he slides between the sheets, the temperature rises dramatically. He’s moist, but the sheets absorb the extra moisture quickly. “Hi,” he says, with a little boy’s smile.
“You were amazing tonight,” I tell him. He pretends to ignore the compliment, but I can see the corners of his mouth lift. He snuggles closer, next to where I’m propping myself up on an arm. I enthuse about his musicality, his long lines and fluid movements. Whether or not he dances in order to perform, his performance moved me, and I tell him that, too. “You make me so proud,” I finish. “You have amazing control over your body.”
“That’s not true at all,” he says, his liquid brown eyes staring up at me. “You do.”
My lips part to ask a question. Then I understand what he’s telling me.I turn off the lights, and slide my naked self down into the sheets, dragging him with me into the depths.
I have all night for this performance.