As I’ve alluded to before, I longed to be a dancer ever since I was a young girl. For this reason, I’ve made it a goal to give my daughter the opportunity to engage in movement based classes from the time she was old enough at age 2 1/2. She has since participated in creative movement, pre-ballet/tap, and tumbling, starting her third year at the studio this fall. I will never push her to dance formally if it’s not something she wants to do, but I think trained dance provides a powerful opportunity to use your body in a purposeful way while also creating something aesthetically impressive.
By the time I was old enough to try out for dance team in high school, I lacked the confidence in my ability to contend with all the other girls who’d been taking lessons for years and were (seemingly) well assured of their capabilities. Dance incorporates drama in that way, not just in playing a part given a various style or routine, but in demonstrating an aura of authenticity which makes a performance believable.
We had our first dance rehearsal for our upcoming holiday musical last week. We were told to wear our performance shoes, a dance skirt, and dance pants or tights all which struck terror in me. I didn’t know what the first three options entailed, and I knew I had plenty of the fourth option tucked in a drawer at home but questioned whether being covered in holes and rips made them presentable.
Thankfully, our choreographer was gracious when I hurried over to her during a break and asked her to fill me in on what I needed. She came back with a pair of the theater’s performance shoes in my size and clarified that a dance skirt could be any skirt that was about knee length and not too tightly fitted. She didn’t seem too worried about what I wore on my legs, so I figured I didn’t need to be either.
This is the ensemble I came up with for rehearsal, a mere hour or two before I actually needed to leave the house:
I was grateful that for our first go round, it would just be my male partner and I. He wasn’t able to join us for the first half hour or so which gave me the chance to warm up and try out some of the moves without an audience (actually, the choreographer’s two young children were there and offered up laughs and applause when the moment struck them, their honesty keeping me in check).
When my partner showed up, I could sense he had some of the same nerves I did. We didn’t have long to feel timid, as we were quickly thrust together, physically and otherwise, as our choreographer explained that over the course of this song and dance number, our job was to convince the audience that we had fallen in love.
I can’t say that we fell in love in a romantic sense, but we were certainly on the same team by song’s end. You can’t sweat profusely, move belly to belly and butt to butt, and receive a mutual critique for using a “duck walk” during a graceful ballroom number without some bonding happening.
As my partner and I slowly
walked hobbled away from the theater two and a half hours later, I said I’d see him next time, and he responded in a questioning tone with something to the effect of “if you say so”. I let out a big belly laugh in return, which is always an indicator to me that I am truly in my element.
When an old friend and and one of those former coveted dance team members found out I was dancing in preparation for this role, she said “welcome to the love”. In turn, I told her “it feels good to have finally arrived”.
The best things happen while you’re dancing
Things that you would not do at home come naturally on the floor
For dancing soon becomes romancing
When you hold a girl in your arms that you’ve never held before
Even guys with two left feet
Come out all right if the girl is sweet
If by chance their cheeks should meet while dancing
Proving that the best things happen while you dance