Finding common ground in love
Reviewed By: Heather Ehlers
Inspired by your Love! Thank you, Heather and Carsten, for sharing your love story. Yours truly is a match of hearts made on the dance floor, and I’m delighted and excited to see this partnership and love bloom!
Heather Ehlers, Audrey Boss
Language availability: English
Heather & Carsten are Open Floor teachers living between Hong Kong and California. They met on the dance floor. This is their story.
One of the first things Heather tells me about herself and Carsten when we meet on Skype is that they are “polar opposites”.
At first glance, that’s an understatement. He’s a tall, dark German economist living in Hong Kong. She’s a radiant Californian who teaches Movement for Actors in the School of Theater at CalArts. Heather provides more proof: “We’re from different cultures, we work in different realities, we speak different languages, I am a hedonist, he’s an ascetic.” When she pauses to breathe, Carsten, who’s been watching her with a grin on his face says “And I don’t listen to music, it gets on my nerves.” To which Heather adds:” I love music, I listen to it all the time.”
They may never have been matched up by a dating algorithm and yet here they are, finishing each others’ sentences and visibly comfortable in each’s company. Heather confirms, “We’re full on partners and I never expected it. It still surprises me!”
When I ask them how they beat the odds, they’re both clear that what brought them together is dance. “We’ve gotten closer through the dance, that’s the common place where we meet,” Heather tells me. “There’s mutual respect, we listen to each other. And lots of trust that was cultivated over time.” Dance is the embodiment of all of that, she explains “you’re not just saying it – you’re feeling it and experiencing it… at every level.”
Carsten agrees, “The dance is clean slate. We go in with all this individual stuff… the emotions and thoughts… in the dance these constraints become less relevant and after the dance it’s a clean slate. Whenever we’ve been apart for a while and we get home, we put on music and just start dancing. It’s how we re-connect.” Dance works for him, he tells me, because he doesn’t have to talk, “and that works for guys like me,” he says, grinning again.
Heather and Carsten have also found common ground in teaching. The couple first worked together when they assisted on a Ground Floor Lab. Once they’d graduated from the Teacher Training, they started offering Open Floor workshops in Hong Kong. Their faces light up when I ask them what it’s like working together as a couple.
Carsten beams, “Heather makes it all fall into place. It’s a 500% leverage effect…what would take me 5 hours, takes her 2 seconds. Having that perspective makes a big change.” he explains.
“We’re so supportive of each other,” says Heather, “having him in the room is like gold. He gives me cues on music, when to change it… when to speed up, when to slow down.”
Carsten nods emphatically, “It’s a real partnership, we feed off each other.”
I ask them what the next step for them is. “After nearly 10 years together,” says Heather, “Carsten and I are finally seeking a common place to live together. Since we live on different continents and spend so much time up in the air traveling, we’ve come to accept the EARTH (and each other) as our home. Looking now for a place to stay together with our feet on the ground…so we can continue our dance. Wish us luck!” she laughs.
Heather will be teaching Art Murmur 2018 from August 8-14 in California with Lori Saltzman and Kathy Altman.
Words by Audrey Boss
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