Daily Prompt: Let’s Dance:In my earliest memories of dancing, I’m under my auntie Nancy’s dining room table, (which had been pushed off to the side of the room), watching my mom, dad, aunties, and uncles all dancing on the hardwood floor to a never-ending stack of 45 records, dropping one after the other. I remember foot-high stacks of 45s all around the record player. The song that I remember playing most? Twistin’ the Night Away by Sam Cooke. Every time I hear that song, I remember auntie’s spontaneous dance parties. What are your earliest and fondest memories of dance?
Sadly, I have no fond memories of dancing from a personal perspective. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm and my mother’s sincere attempt to help me by enrolling me in dance lessons lasted about one lesson. I suppose my earliest exposure to dance was watching the various animated characters waltz and twirl their way across the movie screen in Disney films. A little later, I was an avid fan of American Bandstand, enjoying the music and the gyrations of people in tune with it.
I love music in many forms from classical to rock, folk to pop. I was 7 years old in 1960, 11 when the Beatles made their Ed Sullivan début, a time when music and dance wove their way into the tapestry of our lives. Everybody wanted to be in a band. We all had ‘nine transistor’ radios. We all knew the top ten hits and grooved with Cousin Brucie.
However, school dances were fraught with anxiety. I wanted to attend, to hear the music and participate in high school activities, but the thought of trying to dance in front of others filled me with fear.
I tried dancercise with a friend once. I was going left when they were going right and I never did figure out that grapevine step. I know the instructor was relieved when I failed to return, because I messed up her choreography.
My lack of rhythm with dance and music accompanied my inability to sing, as well. I attended a Catholic school and every morning before school started, we were required to attend Mass. One day, in fourth grade, I think, we attended Mass in the choir loft with the church choir director playing the organ. She was on the lookout for new voices for her choir. I employed my usual strategy of just mouthing the words, without sound. She wasn’t fooled, however, and brought me down next to the organ so she could hear me sing. She asked me if I were an Alto or a Soprano. You tell me, you’re the one with the, organ and sheets of music in front of you, I wanted to say, but I just shrugged my shoulders. She listened to me sing the next song and obviously couldn’t figure out what I was, either, because she promptly returned me to my seat, and never asked me to sing again. I was happy though; relieved I didn’t have to pretend to sing anymore. Instead, the nuns assigned me to leave the choir early and go down to the teacher’s lounge and put on a kettle of water for their morning tea.
It’s just as well I decided early on not to pursue a career in the performing arts. There’s not a lot of need for a tone-deaf singer/dancer with two left feet and Parkinson’s disease!
I did not despair, however. I can exercise to the “Oldies” with panache, stretch and meditate to new age music as I do my yoga and tai chi practices and pedal my exercise bike to hundreds of songs on my iPod. Music and movement are in my life, just not in the form of dance.
We each have our own special gifts. Some people can dance and sing, some people, like me, enjoy writing and photography. I am most grateful for my special gifts. Speaking of which, I have finished the manuscript of my book and am getting ready to upload it. (See my Focus on Fiction Blog for the latest updates and a sneak peek at Chapter 2 ). patcoyle76.@wordpress.com
Once I received my Parkinson’s diagnosis, I realized there was no going back for certain things – like dancing, and that there was a time to let go of others like tennis and driving. To every season, there is a purpose and mine now is to enjoy the gifts I’ve been given for as long as I can. Still, one can wish…
I wish that I had learned to dance
to glide with grace
my feet in place
I wish that I had learned to dance
(long ago, I had the chance)
I wish that I could really sing
notes as pure
as birds in spring
to be in tune with everything
(I would have loved to sing)
I wish that I could walk with ease
and go everywhere I please
(and never worry my feet might freeze)
Moving now is a challenge, though
Count your steps
Heel to toe
Moving is a challenge
(though it wasn’t always so)
and when I had the chance
I wish I’d learned to dance.