Sunday, September 29, 2013

30x30: Take a dance class


Full disclosure: I spent the better part of my first twenty years on this earth in dance classes, orchesis recitals (my high school's dance club), and playing second girl on the left in community theater chorus numbers. I grew up in a performing household, and there were more than a few times my mother and I devolved into perfecting the triple time step while brushing our teeth before bed. I cried while watching Michael Flatley and his Irish step dancing troupes transform into actual lords of the dance before my eyes, and there are a large number of dance routines from famous movie musicals that I can do by heart.

So why did taking a dance class warrant a spot in my 30x30 challenge? Because even though dance was, and is still, such a huge part of my life, I hadn't stepped a pointed foot into a dance class in almost 10 years.

Sometime in college, the fact that I would never actually become a professional dancer became all too clear. Genetics had made me short and round, talent in the organizational arts was driving me to managerial, rather than creative, roles, and frankly a lack of physical drive prevented me from pushing myself to the extremes needed to pursue a life of dancing as a means of making a living.

And so the story goes. I took an internship, I worked hard, I moved to New York City. Time and money became a commodity, and I all too soon found myself scheduling the choreography rehearsals that I used to attend. And to be perfectly honest, I hadn't actually given my lack of dance too much thought. I'm still very physically active - long walks and lots of yoga keep me moving, and I've been known to hop around my living room to online Zumba classes now and then.

But last week, my lovely friend Kristen mentioned in passing that she would be taking a tap class the next day. My ears perked up. A tap class? I used to love my tap classes! It would be so fun to take a tap class again!

So come with me, she said.

And so I did.

It was actually that easy. For once, all schedules aligned so that she and I and the class time were all available. The studio (Broadway Dance Center, for all those living in this area) allows you to drop in without pre-registering or signing up for an entire series of classes, so I was able to one-off this class without any repercussions (the uneven nature of my daily schedule precludes me from ever signing up for reoccurring classes). So with taps in hand (um, foot), I took the first Advanced Beginner Tap Class of my adult life.

And it was great! Admittedly, I was a little rusty. I concentrated pretty hard for those 90 minutes, forcing my brain to talk to my feet in a language my body had long forgotten. Eventually, the steps came back to me. I was by no means the best in the class, but it didn't actually matter. Since we weren't rehearsing for a recital at a later date (one of my issues with childhood dance classes, but I won't tangent on that now), we were able to focus on a few techniques at a time and then add those into a combo. The final routine we worked on was a waltz to the tune of Mr. Bojangles. Stereotypical, yes, but it's one of my favorites. When there was just one minute left in the class, the teacher, who had spent the class correcting, fixing, and adjusting, announced that we were going to do the combo one last time - and that we should just enjoy ourselves and dance, because that's what we came there do do. So with one last fa-lap-shuffle-heel-ball-change, I leaped back into my teenage self.


If you go: Broadway Dance Center is located at 322 West 45th St., 3rd floor (between 8th/9th aves.); classes are open to the public and available on a walk-in basis. Prices and times vary, so check the website for class specifics.

All photos were taken by me with my trusty iPhone 4s and edited with PhotoToaster, Snapseed, and/or A Beautiful Mess. 30x30 is my name for a silly little bucket list project that I intend to complete by my 30th birthday at the end of March, 2014.

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