So how did the Best Dance Duo (BOTB 2016) make the transition from partnering professionally to hooking up for real?
Not surprisingly, the catalyst was a dance — but not one they were performing together. It was a duet created by Cardinal in 2011 for a dance film she was intending to show at her sister’s wedding. The dance, inspired by her sister’s relationship with her husband-to-be, “was based on the idea of two lives on a parallel track together,” says Cardinal, and she asked Fidalgo and his then-fiançee, fellow Moving Current Dance Collective member Melissa Torres, to perform it.
Then, two months into rehearsal, Fidalgo and Torres called off their engagement.
“I found myself in a studio with two dancers that were at extreme odds with each other,” says Cardinal, “trying to make a work about marriage.”
But they saw it through nevertheless — and then, almost a month later, Cardinal’s sister called her wedding off as well.
“Yeah — wow.”
The duet was eventually shown live in a Moving Current concert, minus the original happy ending. “It just became a piece about the complexities of relationships between two people.”
Erin and Brian, friends already, grew even closer as she supported him through the breakup. Then, a few years later, Erin’s 17-year marriage to an IT manager ran into problems, with issues coming to a head after she entered a graduate program at the University of Washington. The plan was to have her husband and two young sons join her there, but that didn’t happen. “We went through ending our marriage being 3,000 miles away from each other.”
During that time, Brian visited Erin frequently in Washington, elevating their relationship “to what it probably already was,” she says.
“We always had a deep connection. I don’t know whether that was because of our partnership in dance or kindred spirits or all of the above. But we became very close friends through both of these very trying times.” (She also helped Brian in his recovery from a serious motorcycle accident three years ago.)
Now they’re happily a couple (he's 34, she's 44), planning on renovating the house that belonged to Brian’s grandmother. (Cardinal has joint custody of her sons, 9 and 11, and is still friendly with their father.) While they're less active with Moving Current than they used to be, they are still deeply involved in dance, Erin teaching at USF and the two of them developing a new partnering technique, says Fidalgo — “to help codify what it is that Erin and I used to do together so easily and how to transfer that to other people.”
And Cardinal is four months pregnant. (It’s a girl.)
I asked Erin if she could remember a specific moment when the relationship with Brian pivoted (pirouetted?) from dance to romance.
“This could sound potentially so corny,” she answers. “It was just a kiss. It opened everything up. It just all became very clear.”