Monday, June 24, 2013

Take it From the Top:
Dancing Together, Part Two

A great dance duo (and our prop keys)
A funny thing happened when I began taking Vi to her dance classes last October:

I started dancing. And I fell in love with it. And I haven't stopped. 

I was chatting one day with Vi's teacher, "Miss Anna," and I said I'd intended to tap dance after retiring and had bought shoes but hadn't taken lessons since I was about six years old.

Anna said, "My favorite class to teach is Beginning Adult Tap. Class starts January 8." I signed up that very day. It was only an eight-week class and I missed two of those weeks, but I learned a lot of steps including great warm-up and practice routines that I can do at home. When the class ended in March, Anna said I should be able to join the teens and adults class that runs from September through May. Part of me wondered how I could wait that long, and another part worried whether I'll be able to keep up with the rest of the class.

Then she made another life-changing comment. "We have an eight-week Parent-Child Class starting in two weeks." She explained that students and a family member prepare a dance for the recital in June--a light-hearted piece that doesn't require advanced skills.

I told Vi we had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to dance together, grandma and granddaughter. It would be more work than she was already doing for the recital, but we'd both remember it forever. She said okay. I didn't know at the time that we were signing on for four performances in two days! There were two recital groups, divided mostly by age, and each group performed twice.

Live shot from our first of four performances
Remember "Yakety-Yak," the 1958 Coasters hit? That's what we danced to. The kids played the bossy parent role, the grownups showed bad attitude and said "Yakety-Yak," and the kids said, "Don't talk back." Each pair pantomimed a pair of lines. As the music said, "Tell your hoodlum friends outside, You ain't got time to take a ride," Vi turned my wrong-way baseball cap to its proper position and confiscated the car keys. The whole number was fast-paced and fun, and the audiences loved it.

We rehearsed a lot, because timing was critical and a couple of the youngest kids had trouble getting from here to there with precision. Vi was bored with the repetition, but she did her part perfectly and even covered for me once when I was late with a move. She never got rattled or stressed, and she loved our final bit in which we squabbled over the keys and then hit our pose - bam! - for the big finish.

Eight kids, 4 moms, 2 dads, a brother, and a grandma
Somewhere during all of that, I began to feel like a dancer. It has stayed with me. I walk taller. I use my body differently, more deliberately. When I work in the garden I have more stamina. I will do my tap routine all summer to feed this lovely feeling. Then I will take tap class every Tuesday night starting in the fall, and not worry whether I can keep up with the best of them. I probably will also take ballet barre class on Monday nights, just for the feel of doing those moves. True confession: I learned how much I enjoy them while practicing with Vi. And on the day Anna turned up with her leg in a cast, unable to lead Vi's class in their recital dances, I stood in for her because I had learned the dances by heart. 

I've spent a lifetime knowing that I should be more active, and mostly hating any exercise I got involved with. Suddenly I'm moving again, thanks to dance. It strikes me that I should have figured this out years ago, but I didn't. Like so many things in life, I've learned it because of my grandchildren. In this case, my dance partner, Vi.

This post has been linked to the GRAND Social blogging event at Grandmas Briefs.


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