Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dancing in the Cities

I had a four-hour dance practice today.  I'm working on a piece with a group associated with the U of M House of Prayer and we'll be presenting this dance next Friday at a worship service.

It's interesting that, although I've always known I would be a writer, whenever I'm in the midst of teaching a dance or performing in front of a group, I still ask myself, "How did I get here?"  I've been dancing and teaching for several years now, but I still ask myself that question.

 Most people who dance professionally usually start dancing when they are very young.  Me, I began dancing as an adult.  I started with ballroom, moved into jazz and then decided to throw in ballet and modern just because.  Dance wasn't really my idea; it was more of a God thing, but that's another story.

I remember the first time I took a ballet class.  I was probably 25 years old and I went to St. Anthony Park School of Dance which is now called St. Paul City Ballet.  The class was held in a beautiful building on the Luther College campus.  It was one big room with a wooden floor and a large ornate window that looked out into the dark evening.  I felt like I was in a fishbowl, but the room and window were so beautiful that I didn't care.

When I first began this ballet class, it was evenly divided between beginners like myself and advanced dancers.  I felt ridiculous trying to do these positions - especially fifth where you stand turned out with the heel of your front leg against the toe of your back leg.  And then you raise your arms and try to keep your balance.  Or you have to bend your knees and keep everything lined up without tipping over.

So, as the class went on, after about a month, most of the beginners had dropped out, except for me.  I was dancing with people who were teachers and performers, most of them probably had started dancing when they were 3 or 4 years old.  They were so graceful and moved so easily, and I felt like I was re-learning how to walk.  Can you say humbling?  But in spite of how hard it was, I kept at it.  I was working at a desk job at the time that required a lot of fast typing.  I would often get shooting pains in my arms and wrists from sitting at my desk all day.  The ballet class helped my posture and alleviated a lot of the pain in my wrists.  It also made me feel stronger over all even though I had often regarded it as sort of a "foofy" thing.  Don't mess with a ballerina.  They could probably flatten you!

I've taken many classes since then at different places in the city including the U of M, Zenon, Ballare Teatro, Minnesota Dance Institute, and Dance Spectrum, and more recently TU Dance.  I've also danced with several professional groups, taught classes and workshops and performed in a few long running shows.  For a long time I thought I'd never progress beyond the beginning classes, but I'm currently dipping my toe into some of the advanced classes.  The people I dance next to are amazing, friendly, and young enough to be my children.  Since I don't have children, I sometimes feel like I'm dancing with my nieces and nephews (which would be a fun thing to do in and of itself).  And even though I can't kick my leg over my head, I'm still enjoying it, and for the most part, I'm keeping up with them.  And I suppose, if you've eaten crow long enough, you get used to the taste after a while.

I've made up my mind that regarding dance, there are certain things I probably won't be able to do in this life.  I'm not going to go on pointe in ballet; I'm not going to clear the dance floor in two broad leaps; I'm not going to do five pirouettes in a row.  But who knows, God may have other plans.  And I've been wrong before.

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