Have I ever been so aware that you were a dancer, Richard Armitage?

tumblr_n8j36wa9Ii1sfpmblo4_r2_250[Left: Richard Armitage in Esquire video, 2013. Cap from Armitage Fan.]

I know you were a dancer, twenty years ago. Now I imagine you dancing only out of love. I remember when you said that as a teen you were afraid people would watch you and think you were not very good. I remember when you said musical theater was too showoffy and I think in the settings where I can observe you, that you do not dance to call attention to yourself. Still, I observe it here and there, the twist of a wrist, the way one of your characters rolls his hips, the jaunty cock of your chin, the pose on a red carpet or the position of your feet.

You may not dance any more, but someone taught you how to move, how to pose for just an instant, never heavy-handed. The slide across the room to pick up your jacket, the pointed foot, the tango you perform with no partner but your thoughts.

Are you still the dancer who wants not to be seen? Is not wanting to be seen the same as not wanting us to see?

The way you slide from fastening your cuff link, to the crouch to tie your shoes, the elegant pull of your leg onto the stool, the twist of your torso toward its center. The bend of the leg that you do not hold, but release, practically, to bind the laces.

The split-second you hold until you’ve been observed, then move on.

We see how a dancer moves, bracketed by how he quiets himself, how the blink of an eyelash strikes tidal waves against your pale, still face. But you do want us to see, I think — to focus on the things that move so minutely, your wrists twisting around fingers circling down on buttons. You look quietly away but you know we are watching and whatever it is we feel we see — you want us to have seen it, even if you wish not to be observed. Your hands are brisk, they tug, then fasten, then smooth. They draw us forward through seconds all too quickly gone.

You stare into the mirror that is a lens; you see only yourself but we see all of you, as your brow moves, as your eyebrow arches, as your lip curls. What story did you tell yourself here, is it the story you are telling us? What are the details you are placing there only for yourself, the things we perceive at best in the corner of our vision? Something about the feelings with which you background your movements reminds me of the statues high up in medieval cathedrals, detailed, subtle, glorious ornamentation placed where only G-d could see it in its fullness.

I watch you now, again, again, and wrestle with my desires. I’m caught in the tension of this paradox of the man dressing unobserved while nonetheless observed, my brain shears around the knowledge that you perform carelessness, unconsciousness for us with studied carelessness — all the details tell us that you don’t notice even as you put them there on purpose to be noticed.

You stare out of the frame — both by yourself and putting yourself in our presence with your haunted eyes. You want not to be seen even as you pose yourself, ineluctably, wanting us to see. You conquer the lens with your silence.

~ by Servetus on July 11, 2014.

24 Responses to “Have I ever been so aware that you were a dancer, Richard Armitage?”

  1. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you.


  2. Oh, YES, Servetus. Just so… 😀


  3. I was thinking, around the mumble-th time I watched the video and could finally start forming something like thought, that this is the strongest evidence yet supporting my claim that Photoshoot Richard is another one of the characters he plays. And oh my, does he play him here with style and grace.


  4. Reblogged this on jollytr62 and commented:
    beautifully written – poetry


  5. Reblogged this on Wormwood Scrubs and commented:
    Grenouille, the protagonist of Süskind “The Perfume”, has an obsession: to capture the essence of the woman. Since he mets the red-haired girl devotes all his life, his knowledge and his art to that purpose. He succeeds, and creates an intoxicating essence which moves and touches deeply whoever smells it. The perfume is distilled at a very high price but Servetus shows us in these absolutely moving lines how it is indeed possible to capture the essence of a man, just with words.

    This is one of the most touching readings I’ve had recently.


  6. So many times I have noticed the same thing about his movements and his dance background. You just said it much better than I could have. Thanks for this…..


  7. C’est un vrai poeme ce que tu a ecrit! J’apprecie surtout la comparaison avec la sculpture des cathedrales gothiques: “Something about the feelings with which you background your movements reminds me of the statues high up in medieval cathedrals, detailed, subtle, glorious ornamentation placed where only G-d could see it in its fullness.” Thank you for sharring with us !


    • thanks — I found myself really intrigued by the notion that in order for something to be perceived in its traces it must also be present (somewhere) in its whole — a very medieval idea. Though I doubt that Armitage is a neo-Platonic realist 🙂


  8. Beautiful!


  9. Perfect post to capture the short video’s aesthetic impact – which it has in spite of its briefness! Thanks for this!


  10. Thanks for the kind comments and reblogs.


  11. Wonderfully put (sigh….), though it leaves me all the more yearning for MORE!!…. a closer and more extended view at this mans’ ever so casual, nonchalantly beguiling movements. His body language is (still) that of a dancer, his stance, and his body consciousness is a feature that is indeed intriguing, and I really, really do love that about him. (I do not have to say among other things, right? :-))


  12. […] his hair, running his fingers through theirs. Perhaps subconsciously rehearsing his moves, those dance-like subtle moments of grace and poise. The look in his eyes at the end?  I wanted to be on the receiving end of that!  The promise […]


  13. Beautiful, Serv. As always. 🙂


  14. Beautifully written, Serv, really capturing the essence of this amazing creature and how he affects us. I love seeing the dancer shining through in Armitage–the grace, style, the elegance–not show offy at all, but displaying a quiet confidence that draws the eye.


  15. How I wish I had your talent to write something as delightful as this! Thank you! The way he moves his body has always mesmerized me in the past, whether in such divergent roles as John Porter or Guy of Gisborne or in this amazing video – short as it may be – and no doubt he will continue to do so. There are just too many examples to enumerate. It would be a great pity if this is all we will ever see of it but if it is, I’ll try to be content and just keep re-watching 😉


  16. Your words, as usual, so beautifully descriptive and minutely observant. Almost like your own kind of OOOF 🙂 Perhaps this is all somehow related to his expressed fondness for physical theater…?
    Your wonderful comparison to the cathedral statues in the mountains somehow brought Eric Liddell’s words to my mind: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Thanks again, as always. Is there a novel in you? 🙂


    • That quote of Liddell’s has always stuck with me, SH, from the first time I heard it. Very moving.

      I was just watching the video for the umpteenth time and while concentrating on the part you pointed out Servetus, where he “dances” over to pick up his jacket, I became mesmerized at the way he moves his left foot too as he always keeps the toe of his shoe in contact with the floor. A tango is exactly what came to mind 😉 melts


  17. Beautiful! sigh


  18. Thanks for all the nice comments!


  19. I know this is more than 4 years old, but it is really wonderful. The writing, I mean, which really captures something about that man in that picture and the movements in the video.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. […] to Carly Q for this post and SueBC for this comment — both thought-provoking and re-orienting and […]


  21. […] about if and what I want to be blogging. This post is probably most owing to a comment SueBC made here and my thoughts about a response. Why don’t I blog that way anymore? This is a very […]


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