human, being


New shoes, new dance group
May 7, 2009, 10:19 am
Filed under: life | Tags: , ,

Yesterday, I ordered a new pair of dance sneakers.

My loves: dancing and performing

My loves: dancing and performing

Yes, dance sneakers. That’s because on Monday, I go to my first class/rehearsal for a new salsa performance group I’m joining. I have no idea who my partner will be. That’s a bit unnerving and exciting at the same time. Rather than worrying that he’ll be a short, shlumpy jerk who can’t keep time, I’ll fantasize that he’s a tall, smooth sweetheart with a firm lead and impecable rhythm.

I’ve always loved to perform. As a child, I organized shows and circuses for the neighborhood. I loved dance recitals. I performed in plays–I was Snoopy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and Mrs. Cratchett in A Christmas Carol in elementary school, and was in the chorus of Oliver!, and the Sound of Music in high school. I don’t think I missed a talent show, ever. My favorite was dancing to “Sam You Made the Pants Too Long,” a Barbara Streisand song, in the 5th grade talent show.

I sang in the school choir from elementary school through college. I still love to sing, and when the karaoke craze shook the nation in the 1990s, I was right up there every Friday night, stone cold sober. Besides the scholarship money, the ability to perform in front of a crowd was my main motivator for competing for Miss America at the local and state level in my late teens and early 20s.

But my favorite kind of performance is dance. I’ve been dancing in one way or another since I was 3, when my mom put me in ballet class with the hope of making me less clumsy. (Turns out I’m near sighted in one eye and far sighted in the other, which explains my lack of depth perception and clumsiness.) I fell in love, and like many little girls, dreamed of being a ballerina one day. Unfortunately, I had the passion and skill for ballet but not the body or talent. My ballet mistress often cast me in the male lead roles in our performances because I was one of the tallest girls in class (and there were no boys). In the end it didn’t matter because I got to perform, on stage, in front of a crowd of people.

At the end of 8th grade, my friend Julie told me she was going to audition for the pom squad at our high school. I’d never heard of it, and when she told me it was the group of girls who danced at halftime I got very excited. I auditioned and made the squad. Over the next four years of my life, poms was my main after school activity. I helped choreograph routines. I was captain during my junior and senior years. I adored it, the practicing, the dancing, the performing, the girls. the teaching.

I was a dance minor when I was at CSU, taking modern dance for two years. My boyfriend and I took a ballroom dance class for our physical education requirement. There were no performances involved here, but my life felt empty when dance was missing.

My ex-husband and I met while country-western dancing in 1993. We did that for two years almost four nights a week while we were dating. I took adult ballet classes at Colorado Ballet for three years. Then I stopped dancing. I don’t know why–time, money, work.

In 2004, my bad boyfriend Jimmy asked me to take a salsa dance class with him and I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I was hooked after the first class. Now, almost five years later, I’ve taken dozens of privates and even more group classes. I’ve been in a performance group. I’ve done some amateur competitions, too, and I came in second place a couple of years ago. I love salsa dancing–I feel incredibly joyful when I’m doing it. It’s a great stress buster. I try to go to the clubs at least twice a month. Now that there’s more daylight and I’m feeling better, I try to go more often than that. I’d love to compete in the Colorado Salsa Open, an amateur competition, but the issue is my lack of a good partner.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a local instructor, Bridget Ellis, about joining a new performance group. The goal is to perform at the Winter Student Showcase, part of Salsa Central Colorado. This group will be small, just three couples. We’ll rehearse on Monday nights. It’s a commitment of both time and money that I’m excited to make again. I get to do two of my favorite activities in the world–dancing and performing.

Monday night can’t come soon enough.

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