Special instructions before reading this article: Be sure to be playing Ruth Barrett’s “Sidney and Charlotte Dance” while you read as it’s what I’m doing while writing.
When I wrote the review for the sixth episode, I had said that it was taking everything in me not to dedicate an entire article to the dance alone and here I am, unable to resist the temptation to write further. This is my life, these are my choices. The dance changes everything. It’s the prelude to a beautifully moving connection that heals as quickly as it inspires. The progression of Barrett’s score encompasses the weight of Charlotte and Sidney’s emotions with such momentum it’s enamoring. Disclaimer, I’m no musician, in the same way that medical terminology and I don’t mesh together, describing music properly doesn’t come easy to me. I can only touch on the emotions it evokes in the best way I know how. In simpler terms, it’s one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever heard. The melody starts off slow, as does their dance and the choreography behind it, which showcases what it really means when two people securely come together. Slow and steady then explosive and liberating. The dance touches on emotions words could not properly describe by allowing the music and choreography to exhibit the innermost parts of their souls. Yup, we went there. We’re going to talk about souls.
“He comes and asks her to dance, but at the same time, he gives her the choice to carry on her with the conversation. And when she questions why he’s chosen her instead of the other ladies in the room, he states that he doesn’t want to dance with anyone else. “I don’t want to dance with any of them” directly equates to you’re the only one that I’ll ever want.
Sidney doesn’t take his eyes off Charlotte for even a split second. It’s as though they are dancing around all the unspoken words, everything they’ve been through, everything they’ll face, then finally coming to this organic moment of profound intimacy knowing that in each other’s arms, they’re safe. There’s so much reverence in his smile and the room is filled with their laughter again. It’s the very same laughter at the beach. The laughter that holds vast freedom and warmth. The laughter that carries the weight of a thousand words that focus on a conversation between the inner most parts of their beings that have found serenity with each other. The parts of their souls that are apologizing and forgiving, confessing and accepting, longing and giving in. It’s moving, it’s almost agonizing, and it’s deeply vulnerable. A room of full of people, but for a moment, the two of them could just be.”
Continuing on from this part in my review, the dance is an emotionally cathartic moment for both these characters, Charlotte especially understanding just how deeply she’s falling for Sidney. It’s two people realizing that in their movements, they’re creating promises and releasing the agonies they’ve lived through. It’s effortless to be stunned by how swiftly they can affect each other, and how impeccably their bodies are able to sway together, which foreshadows just how they’d be in every area of their lives. United, resilient, and vehemently in love. It takes two to tango. It always has. It always will. Hand in hand, back and forth, left then right, they moved their way into a state of utmost serenity, deeming the other their sanctuary — choosing when to lead and following without hesitation. Whatever they face, they’re stronger together than they are apart. This isn’t a solo. It’s a partnership.
There are a lot of moments throughout the series where both Theo James and Rose Williams give us entire conversations in silence, but there’s no moment quite as electric for the characters as this. James softens Sidney’s entire demeanor with such palpable adoration in his gaze, it allows for Williams to touch on Charlotte’s realizations with a type of unmatched, natural innocence. She’s entirely cognizant of his changed behavior responding to his now more gentle nature with belief in him scattered throughout the entirety of her being. Charlotte trusts Sidney completely. She’s safe with him. She understands him. And he knows without a shadow of a doubt that his heart is safe with her. James and Williams work especially well as scene partners in this moment and in doing so, allow the characters to play off of one another’s emotions beautifully.
A profound state of intimacy can be reached in even the quietest of moments, or in this case, a dance that starts off slow and reaches an emotional culmination that changes everything. It’s an exploration of profound desires that have lingered within them from the beginning. The dance is their minds and bodies aligning with the tethered part of their souls that connected long before they even realized what had occurred. It’s the exploration of serenity amidst chaos where Charlotte sees into the wounds that chained Sidney’s heart shut. It’s the purity he’s seeing clearly within her eyes that slowly break his walls down.
When she first accepts his hand then places her other one on his shoulder, it’s a way of saying she can bear it all. The choreography tells a story of exploration — intimacy that touches on pain and darkness with body language that’s doing all the healing. Whatever demons linger within him, whatever chains bind him, she can bear them all. It’s then his turn to ensure that she understands he’d hold her through anything, every darkness, every uncertainty. The movement where their hands cross, down and up before he spins her around promises his unwavering loyalty in return. And finally, after he spins her around, Sidney can no longer hold back the incomparable bliss that’s taken over him, which effortlessly evokes the same kind of openness in Charlotte. The euphoric state of coming to the understanding that the person carrying your heart is going to treasure it. He smiles then she smiles and soon they’re following each other’s bliss into absolute fulfillment. As the tempo increases, as does their joy, which allows us to see that the conversations in silence have led them to reach an exquisite state of catharsis where a dance equates to a journey unlike anything they’ve been on before. It’s Sidney promising Charlotte an abundance of new heights and it’s Charlotte promising a safe harbor where he’d always be her choice.
The dance is a story of two lovers finding home in the other’s embrace – it’s the bravest they’ve ever been, strongest they’ll ever be, and the most vulnerable, promising a 1001 things they intend to keep. He’s taken her quiet world and turned it upside down, igniting fires that have long been awaiting a match, while she’s brought harmony into his chaos. It’s the prelude to an entirely vulnerable surrender, an explosive first kiss, a heartache, and whatever else will follow because tethered souls can never truly part. As they were during the dance, they’ll always be connected in a way that’s unique to them. “The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.” (“Wicked Games,” Chris Isaac.) True love is for the foolish, it’s for the believers, and it’s for the ones whose hearts are entirely bared in the process. Charlotte saved Sidney’s soul without even intending to and in return, he’d give her the world if she asked for it. In this moment, they’re each other’s entire world, back and forth, close then apart – they’re each other’s true north.
She is everything he’s ever wanted but didn’t believe he deserved, and it’s during this dance where she shows him that he’s accepted as he is: the good, the bad, and ugly, she’ll dance with him through whatever comes their way. He’s everything she didn’t know she needed and more. Dancing has always been more than just movement. It’s an utterly vulnerable form of storytelling using our bodies to showcase a wide range of emotions through strategic movements that reflect on all that is within. Thus, for Sidney and Charlotte, the dance was their pathway to sanctuary — the decision to trust each other, give in, and release all that’s holding them back from adoring one another with ardent vigor and profound devotion. For a moment, she was his and he was hers. A moment that changed everything by allowing them to fully explore the lingering desires within that brought them to a state of utter serenity — a place where it’s easy to breathe, come undone, and heal entirely. If this dance tells us anything, it’s that they could never connect on the same level with another soul. They’re entirely bound to each other and the emotions that awakened on this very night serve as the anchor that’s perpetually tethered their souls home. Physically apart, but connected in ethereal forms because while dancing together, they were promising eternity to each other.
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If you’d like more Sanditon content, be sure to check out our weekly reviews of every episode in season one.