Thursday, January 17, 2008

dance, dance, dance

I remember those days vividly. Our moms would drop us off at the front of the school while they went to find a parking space. We’d run up the long steep steps of Ottawa High School, our arms loaded with bags carrying our outfits and shoes, our legs barely covered except for our leotards. We'd bustle in and then go in search of our meeting place. Sometimes it was in a classroom, other times it was in the cafeteria downstairs. We’d huddle there for the next hour or so with our group, changing into our costumes and looking again at our make-up. They asked us to wear blush and eye shadow because it looked better under the lights, we didn’t care what the reason was, we were 7, 8, 9-years old and we just thought it was cool to have blue eyes. Before we knew it they’d be coming to get us… “New York, New York” they’d announce and we knew it was our time to join the queue. They’d lead us to the backstage where we’d wait while other routines were finishing up. We’d be giggling, probably out of nervousness, and the directors would shush us… quiet girls, there’s a performance onstage. Soon we’d move from the backstage to the wings, which meant we were next. We could see the ballet number before us finishing up, the giggles turned into concentration as we went over the steps in our mind. We knew this, we’d be practicing for this moment for months, but counting out the steps calmed us anyway. Suddenly the music stopped, the lights went out and the group before us cleared the stage. It was our time. We hustled out and took our spots… 3, 2, 1 and the lights are on and Frank Sinatra is filling the auditorium. For the next 3 minutes we are the center of attention and at even 8 years old, I imagine this is what it must feel like to be on Broadway.

I started dancing at 3 years old. It was the one thing my mom wanted me to have, because it was the one thing growing up that she always wanted but didn’t get the chance to have. I don’t remember the days before dancing. To me, it was always a part of my childhood. It helped me in an innumerable amount of ways. Coordination being the obvious, but it also gave me confidence and it made me aware of both how far my body could be pushed as well as its limitations. And maybe most importantly, it enabled me to come out of my shell. I know many of you wouldn’t believe this now, but I was a very shy little girl growing up.

I continued dancing up until high school, when I decided to give it up in order to focus on other sports. I’m not going to spend time regretting that decision; I made it with the information I had at the time. However, if I could go back and tell the me of 1994 what the me of 2007 knows, I would press hard to find a way to keep this sport in my life.

Since high school I’ve dabbled in dance here and there, taking a class in college and then again after college through the community rec program in Waukesha. When Kira told me she was looking at joining an adult jazz class at a dance school in Wausau, I told her I wanted in.

Our first class was last night and within the first 10 minutes I remembered why I loved this so much as a kid. Dancing is my thing. It makes me feel alive and fills me with an unexplainable joy. It is challenging both physically and mentally. We learned a few sequences last night and after we practiced them a few times it was time to add them to music. There’s nothing like hearing that beat start, your heart racing, count it, 1, 2, 3, 4, turn on 5, pause 6….grapevine to the right….pirouette.... and chasse. When we get through the class explodes with delight. There are cheers of I did it! and you can feel the energy exuding from our bodies. As I asked Kira last night, I can’t help but wonder why I ever gave this up?

Do you have a thing? Something that makes you feel alive. If so, have you done it lately?


Tessie said...

I love dance as well, I did it through high school but not much since then. I've never taken any classes as an adult, I think I mostly replaced it with highly choreographed step aerobics and stuff like that. I do miss it but I'm afraid I would just be frustrated taking a class now.

I always wanted to be a gymnast growing up. We didn't have any classes in the small town where I grew up and it wasn't a sport at my high schoool.

Kate said...

Tessie - I had the same fears about starting this class and the whole way there I kept thinking, please don't let me make an ass of myself. But, you'd be surprised how quickly you pick it back up and how much you still remember.

Funny you mention having wanted to by a gymnast; I always wanted the same thing. I remember watching the US teams during Olympics time and just staring at the tv in awe. I realize now I wouldn't have been very good at it, but I loved dreaming about it.

Feener said...

just read your comment on momommy about doing a spring tri. i am thinking of doing that or a HALF marathon this year. i turn 40 and i have always wanted to do one of the above. i have 2 kids under the age of 4 so i am not quite sure how i would get in the training. BUT when there is a wil there is a way. i can not swim for the life of me....if you decide to do one keep me in the loop about how you train.

Aubrey said...

Kate, I was thinking about you and dance the other day. I was so envious that you got to do that and I never did. It was too expensive for us and something I wasn't given the opportunity to do. So now, my mom wants to get Maggie in something like that. She too regrets not giving me the opportunity either I think. She knows that we can't put Maggie through a class and we don't want that cycle to start all over again. Do you think dance or tumbling? I can't decide. I always wanted to dance. I was flexible, but tall. So tumbling couldn't have been something I could have continued later in life very seriously. I don't know if Mags will have the same issues, but I'd think it's likely.

As for me, I'd love to get back into theatre. With Darrell on nights, it's near impossible to do it though. If he gets to be on weekends, maybe I'll consider it more seriously. I miss singing and performing. It's such a rush.

Kate said...

Fenner – I’ve been looking at some training programs online and will definitely keep you in the loop if I decide to give it a go.

Aubrey – I think it would be so great to get Mags in dance, she’d love it! As far as dance vs tumbling, in the studio we went to (Gray’s School of Dance in Ottawa – which I’d highly recommend, although I’m not sure it would be the most convenient for you) they offered acrobat as a class. I think this is the same thing or at least very similar to tumbling. If you could find a school that had this as an offering maybe you could have her try out a couple different classes and have her pick. Personally I always preferred tap and ballet to acrobat, but I’m sure that was because I wasn’t as good at it. As I kid I was always lankier and not overly flexible, so it just didn’t fit so well.

One day, maybe when the kids are a little older, you’ll get back into theatre. I’m certain of it; it’s in your blood. And when you do, we’ll come see your performance!

Em said...

I guess my "thing" would be singing and playing the piano. You'd think I'd sit down and play more, since we have a piano right in our living room, but I really don't take the time to do it as much as I should. When I do, though, it's the best! It's like being transported to a different world, and I actually feel like I'm good at something! :) As for singing, I really miss performing with a choir or onstage in plays. I have thought about joining our church choir or something. For now, I mostly reserve my singing for when I'm by myself in the car. :)