Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dancing Queens

1. I used to love to dance. When I was five, I was chosen with just a few other kids from my school to perform a rain dance on stage during a dance performance. As if it is just s dream, I have no idea where the performance was, or why there were local school children involved, or how many nights it went on, or whether my parents were in the audience, and where my brothers might have been. What I remember is that my mom made me a special, matching shirt and culotte outfit for the occasion. That there were beautiful women backstage dressed as elves and fairies, one painted completely a pale shimmering blue. And that, when it was our turn, we were set free from the wings to explode onto that stage with thunder and lightning, and that we ran and leapt with joy and fury, and then receded, trickled off the stage. I remember the lights and the energy and the feeling of being special up there, alone, somehow, in public.

2. I take my first real dance class at the age of eight, a tap class that meets once a week, with my neighbor Carrie. We perform at Sibley Senior High at the end of the year, on a stage that feels as large as a planet. I feel important wearing makeup. I think it is the costume- blue with white lace and a tall, ridiculous bonnet- that brings me back for more.

3. When I try out for the upper-level troupe at Esther Brindle dance theater, performing a routine that I have choreographed with Carrie, I choose to wear a half-leotard and midriff shirt, in the style of the day; because this is not regulation dance gear, I am disqualified. I am thirteen.

4. My parents are dancers. Country first, then ballroom. My dad and I went to a father-daughter dinner dance every year I was in High School, and foxtrotted at my wedding.

I wonder if I ever stood on his feet and danced that way as a little girl, the way girls do in commercials designed to make mothers cry. I think I have stood on Dave's feet that way, and Clio has, too.

5. At our wedding, the band sang our first-dance song at a different tempo than what we were used to. When the botched performance was over, we asked for a do-over. No, I asked for a do-over.

And we did it over.

Instead of feeling embarrassed by having to try it twice, as I expected, I was elated at getting it right, once.

6. When Clio was just six months old, I took her to a Showcase where my mom was performing. I haven't gotten to see her perform since, but her latest routine is on YouTube. I prefer watching her dance at weddings, just for fun. I know that dancing brings my mother joy, but I sense that performing is more complicated.

7. I demonstrate the five ballet positions to Clio, and I am surprised how quickly it comes back- both leg and arm positions; I had forgotten there were arm positions, until my arms floated from on to the next to the next. Clio pretends to copy me, but really just makes up her own positions, though she does watch me with rapt attention. She is going to her first class, and I want her to feel familiar. After that, it's up to her.

1 comment:

Zachary Drake said...

That dance performance was Maureen William's "Rain Dance". I think it was at the Walker Art Center. I was in it too. I think it maybe had two performances. She used Lake Country kids for it because she'd used them for something else before.