Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm about to start dancing five days a week, which is a big change around longer can I say it's "just something I do on the side", it'll be the real deal. I couldn't sleep last night and I was thinking about what started all this. I was eight or nine, I guess, and my parents had taken us to a regional home-schooler's meeting. These were usually held in the dingy basement of a local Legion Hall. Families came from all over the area to talk about the ups and downs of schooling children at home, trade books, swap teaching tactics, and get some social time for their somewhat socially inept (yes, me) children. Also during these meetings, kids could casually perform on the tiny stage with it's sagging plywood wheelchair ramp. In between parental discussion, there was a never-ending stream of singing, piano playing and poetry recitation. I remember (now famous author) Frank Asch and his son, Devin, demonstrating the colorful kites they had built, flying high in the strong spring wind. Mostly, as the children warbled folk songs, the adults would continue to sip their coffee and chat, feigning interest, and clapping blandly at the end. When it was my turn to dance, I recall feeling completely disgruntled that my mother insisted my two, small, bumbling sisters would join me on stage. But as soon as she set the needle down on that scratchy Tchaikovsky record, one that I'd played a thousand times before, I forgot everything else. Nothing choreographed, I just danced. Ignoring the Ballet lessons and recitals, where I always got cast as the rag doll or the teddy bear, I think my eyes were closed for most of it. How I managed to stay on that tiny stage and avoid my sisters, I'll never know. I felt something else coming through me. The music slipping inside me and moving my limbs the way it wanted. In the tutu my grandmother made me, so faded, it's once blue tulle now a grubby grey, I was wonderful. I knew it. I tried things I'd never tried before, and they blessedly happened. At the end, I pirouetted perfectly and slid into a graceful split (which I normally couldn't do, I forced myself, and it hurt, but it didn't matter in the least, because that's what the music asked for). There was the cliched moment of dead silence before true applause. I don't know if they really thought I was good, or if they just recognized that I loved what I was doing. Perhaps it was my wee, adorable sisters who captivated them, or simply politeness towards my parents who hosted the event, or maybe my dad, clapping six times harder than is possible, but for whatever reason, the clapping was long and loud. I slowly came back to myself, disappointed that it was over and I had returned to being me. It's funny, I've never felt exactly that way since. Never quite wholly lost myself in the dance again, but the sensation was so strong, I've danced my whole life searching for it. To make my body as much a part of the music as one of the instruments themselves. Even being close, just for a moment, is enough for me. There must have been magic in the dim light from pea-green curtained windows, the stale smell of dust, and a hundred corned-beef and cabbage community suppers. I love to dance. I am not a great dancer, no, and I never will be. But I am GOOD, and I love it. More than that, I love to make other people love it, people who could be GREAT. And I get to eat whatever I want, a perk not usually afforded a mother of two nearing her mid 30's! Yee haw! It's an easy job, but somebody's got to do it.

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