It is the time for making resolutions and goals. I am not good at resolutions but I have decided to make a goal. Looking through old photographs for my Family History and recollecting the past for the Living History Group I run, I remembered all the fun I have had with music and dancing over the years. Dancing is not necessarily a common enjoyment for dyspraxics.
One of the continuing themes of my life.When I was a child it was the normal way of talking to me at school. I spent so much time in the Casualty Dept at the local hospital,I suspect that if it was today I would be on the at risk register. Lack of co-ordination,a shaky sense of balance coupled with two left feet, ensured I would bump, trip, fall and generally not succeed in any activity that demanded a semblance of normality. Activities such as dancing.
Now I believe all children enjoy moving to music, music of any kind, mechanical or natural.
But oh dear what a start.
I could stumble over fresh air.
I was sent to ballet lessons as soon as I started school at five. Middle class girls tended to be sent to ballet, back then in the dark ages. It would give us poise and good deportment , lay a clock of elegance around us. Our necks and movements would become graceful and ladylike, our. . . Well you get the picture.
It was never going to happen.
Ballet, my early nightmare. I was no natural ballerina, no grace, no beautiful lines and flat footed to boot. I would turn left instead of right, bump into others, be hissed at and complained about and after a year was allowed to discontinue the classes.
My mother, though, was disappointed.
At the same time at school we were engaged in country dancing. Country dancing is fun, skippy, energetic but needs a partner. I was never anyone’s first choice as a partner because not only was I not it appeared a natural dancer I also had warts on my hands - you need to hold hands, primary school children can be very mean sometimes. I did find a partner. A boy with ‘bat’ ears (excuse the un-PC words but that was what he was called back then - I did say it was the dark ages) who also didn't have a partner. He was my friend.
My mother was nothing but persistent and sent me of to ballroom lessons.UGH! Another way a middle class family could instill social graces in their daughters in those post war years.
Warty hands, yes.
And a dyspraxic’s real difficulty with touching another person, all conspired against hopes and aspirations for her daughter! Those lessons lasted six months.
No more dancing:)
I was free for a few years and then, and then, along came the Beatles the Rolling Stones et al. The individual stand up and shake kind of dancing of the 60s -I could do that, one didn’t need to move much, one didn’t need sweaty bodies near, grace and poise were not called for. One could just lose oneself in the music and dance, for hours, and hours.
When I left education behind and began wandering, I discovered bush music in the Australian outback. Akin to country dancing. I had no warts by then, had learnt not to fall over and frankly did not ‘give a damn my dear’ about whether I looked elegant or not. I loved those rollicking, fast, furious evenings of dance where we wore our feet to nothing and sweated away stones of weight.Twirling and whooping and then exhausted sleep. Fantastic.
Eventually I returned to the home shores and settled a little. Won, in a magazine competition, a series of lessons at the Pineapple Dance Studios in London to learn Belly Dancing.
Well it seemed a good idea at the time.
I had viewed the dance often on my travels and thought it would be fun to do. It was. I wasn’t good at it. How could I be, after all it is dependent on poetical arm and hand movements as well as sexual allure. But, I enjoyed it and who cared if I didn’t look the part.
This dancing on one’s own was becoming easier by the decade. I moved onto jazz dancing - that was the best, I think now, looking back, and I wasn’t half bad at it. I found I learnt the sequence of movements easily, and could execute the movements with some finesse. Then the teacher offered tap classes.
Tap dance? Hey.
Astaire and Rodgers here in suburbia?
in UK? moi? Oh yes please.
I dyed the tap shoes emerald and did so enjoy the clattering, chattering music from my heels and toes. These classes lasted five years until one night the teacher quit and the classes were abandoned.
I moved on in a menopausal hiccup to University as a very mature student in my mid forties and found little time for dancing, for the first few years anyway. When I moved onto a Masters I had a little more time and discovered Line Dancing. Oh now that was a dance for me. I enjoyed the music, the sequences, most importantly with thumbs tucked into belts, expressive, beautiful arm and hand movements were not required:) Deceptively simple and really quite energetic. So much more fun than aerobics, Pilate's or the gym!
Then one day I fell. Crashed. Smashing bones. Crushing ankles. Not dancing but walking a dog. Life on hold. Life disintegrating. With plaster from ankle to hip for months, my mothers health spiraling downward and moving house, dancing was not a high priority. I did try some classes after we moved but nursing my mother at home took all the free energy. Then a series of illness, mine, and health dipping constantly. Dancing became my past dreams not my present ones.
However I have a goal. This is the year I beat back LIFE and let my feet twitch and hop around again. They want to dance. They may now have to balance an old, arthritic overweight dyspraxic but....
This year . . . This year I am determined to dance again.