I have always thought of myself as having the soul of a dancer. (stop laughing) I feel like my body is “one” with the music and that my arms and legs flow in unison to convey the mood that needs to be expressed.
I AM the DANCE!
I FEEL It!
I DREAM It!!
I AM THE DANCE!!!
I hold these statements to be true.
Unfortunately having the soul of a dancer NEVER seems to translate well in terms of my actual movements.
I had the unfortunate pleasure of viewing a short video, a week ago, of me dancing and to my horror, I have no skills. I looked on at the video and at first glance didn’t recognise this creature that was jumping around so uncoordinatedly with body parts jiggling in different directions. I was stunned. Mortified. This was not how I felt when I was doing the movement. This video must be a mistake.
In my mind, when I dance, I am rhythmic. I move gracefully and with purpose. Everything feels so right and in time and I feel good. Granted I am not a ballet dancer nor am I skilled or versed in any form of dance, I just know that when I look at dancing on television, I feel my body swaying in the direction and I get caught up in the movement. Alas, my body betrays my perception. After watching shows like “So You Think You Can Dance”, “America’s Best Dance Crew” or some random movie like “Step Up”, I feel empowered. I feel as if my gift of dance has been re-inforced.
It hurts as I think about it. I can recall being in High School and University and having some measure of coordination. Now granted that I have never been part of any dance group or invited to join any of them, I still feel kinship to these areas. How could I not be good? How is this possible? I have rhythm!! I have poise and technique!!! Or do I? Now I begin to question every experience I’ve had.
In 1998, I was involved in small Christmas production that set the Nativity Story to Jazz. The music was really great and I enjoyed singing it. I played Angel Gabriel and in one scene I relate God’s message to Joseph about the soon coming Messiah while dancing and singing like Michael Jackson. Now you may find this notion hilarious at this point but for all intents and purposes (I KILLED IT!!). I was great. Everyone enjoyed the show and after I sang that song I got a hearty round of applause. Now I am thinking the audience may have thought that I was “Special” and was therefore happy about my effort.
Then I recall the time my friend Stacey Leigh and I had just left the movie theatre from viewing Dance With Me with Vanessa Williams. We felt like dancing and so we headed to “The Attic” (a well known latin club) and proceeded to try and repeat everything we saw in the movie. While I was under no illusion that I was a professional Latin dancer, I did feel as if we had gotten the simple steps correctly and that we were burning up the dance floor. That was a great night! Or did we just make fools of ourselves?
Ok enough of this!! I am going to put it down to age. As we get older, the moves we once had no longer become relevant. Back in the 80s and 90s, my moves were smooth but with advancement and improvements in life, my moves seem archaic, dated and semi-retarded now. Yes… I like this explanation. Dance has therefore moved beyond my level of progression. Plus I haven’t been dancing much these days. I rarely dance in clubs and am more interested in the food than in exercise.
But I still have a problem….
I am currently rehearsing the Broadway Musical RENT for March 17- 20th in Queens Hall and this show currently requires alot of singing and some measure of dance. Well not really dance but rhythmic movement. I realise that I am failing miserably after viewing the video.
RENT is a production that I have been dying to do ever since I saw it in New York ten years ago. I was blown away by the music and voices in it. I wanted to be a part of it. Now I have the opportunity and I really thought that I was being very energetic and enthusiastic with my movements. Only to realise that I look like someone whose house is on fire and they are running around trying to get help. This would be a cool move if the scene demanded it but alas it doesn’t.
Honestly when I first watched the video, the only image that came to mind were the dancing hippos in the cartoon Fantasia. Alas, even they were coordinated.
The musical RENT is going to upset some people while moving others even to tears. I am hoping that my performance in it moves the audience to appreciation and not hysterical bouts laughter. Too many times I have sat in the audience at productions and howled with laughter at the fumble or stiff movements of an ensemble member. Sigh…..Karma is a bitch.
Anyway, we are 6 weeks away from the production and here’s to hoping that by then, I look passable as a dancer. I am not trying to be Fred Astaire or Justin Timberlake or Usher, I just want to blend in and not have the audience single me out for laughter.
Is that too much to ask?
Oh Lord, please hear my prayer!