Marie Zanotti – Poet and Dancer — Photographed at Quais de Seine Milonga, Paris — July 2016

I began dancing tango as a pastime at the university. But then it became a way of living, a way to exist. If I don’t move with another body and with my body, I am no longer alive. Tango makes me sad and happy at the same time – but more sad than happy. I can cry without crying when I dance. I have many tears inside me. So I need to dance. It is like dancing on the river of death.

I was photographing along the Seine, making my way to the summer milonga in the Jardin Tino Rossi. As I watched the dancers from a distance, a barge pulled up and moored next to them. People watched in awe as this slow moving beast approached. Then as the water squeezed up between the barge and the embankment, they ran to save their belongings. While all this scurrying was happening, a woman jumped on the barge and began dancing. She extended her hand and helped another woman climb aboard. They danced. A workman in an orange suit came down the barge, shooing the dancers. He had to stand watch to keep them from coming back.

The dancer was Marie. We were all fascinated by the barge, but she was the one who had to dance it. She danced with the barge.

Later we talked as I took pictures of her. She stood perched above the water, talking about tears — a river of tears, she said — but her body spoke another language of celebration and generosity in the embrace.

I shot a picture of her bathed as if by the setting sun, but it is the flood lights of a bateau mouche that illuminate her like a monument. A few seconds later several zodiacs of river police speed by.

All their eyes turn to her.