Twirling and Twinkling

I’ve decided that it’s time to learn to dance…

There are two pictures of me, one at the age of six or seven and the other at seven or eight, dressed in sparkly tutus for some dance recitals. “Mini Me” looked very happy with big, wide, toothless smiles in both. I have a vague memory of taking acrobatics and ballet classes back the late sixties, but the lessons were short-lived. I moved on to heaven-knows-what.

As the years went by, dancing primarily was confined to family bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings where technique didn’t matter. In high school, it was limited to the junior ball and senior prom with a boyfriend who simply rocked back and forth. In college, aside from dancing in an inebriated state (the drinking age was eighteen back then) to music of the ‘80s with my girlfriends, there was an occasional bump and grind with…uh…others (sorry, Honey!) that didn’t require much style or practice.

Fast-forward to “Dancing with the Stars.” The reality TV show, featuring personalities from the entertainment world who are paired with professional dancers, debuted in 2005 and grabbed me immediately. (Their outfits are unbelievable!) Through lessons, hard work, constructive feedback, and incredible dedication, inexperienced people become credible dancers. The experience of dancing transforms their bodies, self-image, self-expression, and attitudes. As this season has just started, I already am mesmerized by the spirit of Amy Purdy, a Paralympic snowboarder – a double amputee – who lost her legs to meningitis.

The movie “Shall We Dance” (2004), with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, sealed the deal for me. It was a romantic comedy in which a mid-life, bored, attorney signs up for ballroom dancing lessons with a beautiful instructor. In one scene, upon trying to teach the emotion that a tango is supposed elicit, Jennifer says, “Dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire.”[1]  Hmmm, I thought. THAT I can do.

Hey. If Amy Purdy, Richard Gere, Kirstie Alley, Emet Smith, and countless other “non-dancers” can dance, why can’t I?!

*   *   *

“With time, even a bear can learn to dance.” — Yiddish Proverb

*   *   *

I convinced my husband that we needed to take some ballroom dance classes for our son’s upcoming nuptial. To his credit, he eagerly agreed. We signed up at a local studio and had our first lesson this week; an hour-long session with five more scheduled. Our instructor, Ed, is a tall, slim, middle-aged man who dances well, but wears a terrible toupee. I’m trying not to judge a book by its cover.

We started with swing steps. Three days later, I don’t remember one of them. I’m skeptical. The cynic in me thinks this will be a hopeless waste of time. The romantic in me wants to flaunt a confident, sexy-self dancing a sizzling hot tango with my handsome hunk of a guy.

Maybe it’s all just wishful thinking, but let’s see what happens over the next five months….


[1] This quote is attributed to Robert Frost. Before him, however, George Bernard Shaw said, “Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music.”

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