word-free art






I made the trek into Free Flight Dance School, into their summer registration time, along with a number of moms, signing up their little daughters.

I didn’t dance as a child, even though I longed to. I didn’t take a dance class ever until my mid-twenties when I quit smoking. (Dance was my reward.) It was at the Kay Armstrong school on Broadway. How fortunate! To take classes with Kay and with Bob in their last year teaching there. It was a sad day when they closed. They had a special way of teaching adults; they taught as if we were children. (Bob even using a conductor’s baton—or what was it?—to tap on errant body parts: “tuck this in,” “turn this out.”) When the school closed, I tried Goh Ballet, but adult students were only fundraisers there; altogether it was just another exercise class. And how I loathe the gym. That was my short-lived dance time.

Now I’m old(er) and it has taken a huge effort to drop twenty pounds this past year. Part of that has been a result of taking a weekly dance class with my friend, Susana. This ballroom-hybrid (for lack of better term) has been a doorway.

I awake at five to write, and my evenings tend to be muddy-headed time. But week after week, when I dance, I clear my head. It’s astonishing to me that remembering steps and, more significantly, I suspect, remembering sequences, does something to my brain.

And I think: how often have I told students who are blocked, “Find an art form without words, and go and watch. Better yet, partake. Do this often enough, and it’ll push words right up and out of you.” Art is about story-telling, so the forms with no words tend to “force” story.

I’ve done this myself: sat listening to jazz music, then gone home and written. But now I’m at the ‘better yet, partake’ time.

Post-dated cheques are in, registration form filled. I have the shoes. Not sure what to wear. But I’ll be there, the second Friday of September, 6:25 sharp, for the adult lyrical/jazz class. I know I’ll be more nervous than any of those little girls in their classes. I know there’ll be steps that I’ll need to do over and over again before the mud clears. And then the next Friday I’ll have to do it all again. I know that dance makes me feel very much on the student end-of-things, makes me feel insecure…and old because I can hear my child-voice so clearly. It has so little to do with my writer self, and yet is so connected, too. And when I’ve gone over and over steps until my body begins to remember better than my mind, and we’re dancing as a group–when you can stop counting with the music–then something happens. I’m not sure how this is going to be, with the change from Susana’s group, where I feel secure and among friends, to lyrical/jazz. The New.

I know mostly that something that terrifies me so much is something I need to do. Finally.