This week’s topic came to me suddenly,
in a flash.
Probably from re-reading too much of Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Whimsey.
Or from a description by a very large ex dancer from my high school
about how he manoeuvred his “buffalo-petite” frame
as a Samoan fire and knife dancer.
Or from a friend, since childhood,
who was forced into ballet lessons by his French mama,
to help his deportment.
My story as a dancer is equally bizarre.
Here it is.
My history as a dancer is grim to more than a little wacky.
Starting with the fact that I was raised in a church that shuns dancing,
to the fact that at age 18, as an ongoing opera singer,
I suddenly had to learn to waltz in order to sing in Traviata.
Which turned into one of the weirdest moment of my life,
when a dear, and very patient friend,
a fantastic former ballet dancer and now opera singer and conductor,
decided, out of the goodness of his heart,
he would partner me,
and ended up getting a monster-sized metal hoop from a hoop skirt up the snoot.
And not Kensington Gore.
That made me realize that I would, somehow or other,
have to get in touch with body movement,
if I wanted to do the singer thing.
There followed a purple belt in judo,
which didn’t do me a whole lot of good,
but did keep the tenor from hiding my shoes,
(because I was taller)
or spinning me into a metal door in rehearsal.
The next attempt was, believe it or not,
a semi-professional square dance troupe
with exhibition tours all over Germany,
and other parts of Europe.
And I must admit, I had a great time,
and learned to tea-cup chain with the best,
but it really wasn’t classical ballroom.
As I unfortunately learned,
when I discovered rule number one
in surviving social situations here in Gutenberg Land:
thou shalt ballroom dance.
Starting with the fact that,
at a wedding,
the groom is required to dance with every woman in the room.
Out of sheer panic, I turned our dance, with everyone watching
(dancing school is an “optional” requirement to graduate high school over here- sort of
like drivers’ training in the US. (You need it, it’s relatively cheap, everyone goes.))
into a tourist version of the Sirtaki we learned from a sweet but bored exhibition dance
troupe at a math conference in Greece.
And then pulled in the entire spectators, once by one, until the line was doubled back on
itself about six times, and I could slip out and have the bar,
and spectator rights,
all to myself.
This is still seen, in the clique of my husband’s old school friends, as the best wedding ever.
And, at the moment,
I have basically given up all hope of ever really learning to ballroom dance.
Although there was the moment,
when we opened a Christmas concert with a small group-
a double quartet of women,
echoing the main choir
as they approached from the back of the church,
with candles in their hands.
And I had to teach them to do the bridesmaid’s step.
Or when we did an upbeat version of the wedding march,
broken in the middle, with a version of “going to the chapel”,
and I had to develop a hip hop version of the bridesmaids’ step,
Oh, and the choreography for a choral version of Sister Act.
And Trial By Jury.
to this day,
regarding ball room…
“I can’t dance. Don’t ask me…”
And watching the modern techno-kids going at it…
Hey, I think my dancing school diploma just expired.
But then, of course,
Dancing is what you make of it.
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