Sunday, August 03, 2008
The happy hoofer
Oh yeah, I know I'm taking a risk with this title. I'll probably gain some new viewers who read it too quickly and are looking for something, er, more exotic. I hate to disappoint, but this is hoofing, as in dancing … as in tap dancing.
A colleague at work asked if I wanted to take a free dance lesson this weekend. "Yeah, it sounds like fun!" This popped out of my mouth quite spontaneously and must have been my inner child clamoring for attention, the child who took tap dancing lessons when she was about five or six-years old - at an Arthur Murray dance studio no less. Before I could control my inner Shirley Temple, my co-worker scribbled down the location and time and excitedly told me that she'd meet me there.
I was the first to show up. There were balloons outside and an open door but not many cars around. What the heck. I survived a ballroom-dancing session a couple years ago; how bad could this be?
The amazing answer is 'not bad at all'. I had a blast! About seven courageous souls showed up, including my friend. The teacher brought used tap shoes and, like Cinderella, the slippers fit. Once I started tapping and the Gene Kelly score started playing, I congratulated my inner child for making the right call.
The teacher showed us some basic steps and I just loved that my body and my brain were working in unison, actually allowing me to keep up with the group. In fact, as we tried more and more steps, my feet began to tap out patterns that I remembered from childhood. Holy Hannah! We danced for an hour and a half, almost non-stop. All that was missing was Gene Kelly’s umbrella and the lamppost from Singing in the Rain. It was great fun and there were times that I felt light as a feather, the incredible lightness of being in the moment and going with the flow.
The instructor taught us an entire routine to match the Kelly movie routine. She kept adding steps and told us that we had worked out at more than a beginner’s level. I realized that the trick was to put my brain on the back burner after it saw what to do and then trust my body to move with the music. Legs, don't fail me now.
I’m hooked. I’m hoofing this fall on Monday nights. I hate gyms and treadmills. This seems like a great alternative to wake up my body and get it moving.
What was so gratifying was the sense of rhythm that kept me tapping, reminding me that, long ago, in a city far away, there lived a little girl who learned how to tap dance well enough to be in a recital.
She’s just itching to get out again and strut her stuff.