When I was a child it was the normal way of talking about me at school. Out of school I spent so much time in the Casualty Dept (A&E) at the local hospital,I suspect that,t 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 had this picture in my mind, in my imagination of burning up the floor with fire and energy, with grace and elegance.
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. Out necks and arm movements would become graceful and ladylike, our. . . Well you get the picture.
It was never going to happen.
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 it 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, let alone being glued together from the hip down, 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 and 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 holding onto one, grace and poise were not called for. One could just lose oneself in the music and dance, for hours, and hours.
I enjoyed Scottish dancing when I worked for a summer up in the Highlands, not too much touching needed just a quick clasp of hands as one wended one’s way through the reels, I was getting better at touch by then.
When I began travelling in earnest 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.
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 it often on my travels and thought it would be fun. 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 the UK?
Oh yes please.
I dyed the tap shoes emerald and did so enjoy the clattering, chattering music from my heels and toes. These jazz and tap classes lasted five years until one night the teacher quit and the classes were abandoned.
A couple of years later I discovered Line Dancing, now that is a dance I like. Completely without partners, and with hands tucked into belts, no graceful lines in the arm area are required. Again like the jazz I found my memory could remember the sequences easily and I have always liked the music.
So not like ballet and ballroom!
Do I still dance in my advancing age? well yes, a bit. Ankles rebel often, heart follows suit. I have the Line Dancing and the Belly Dancing DVDs. The hours are more like minutes these days however, in my head, in my imagination I can burn up the floor as well as anyone. The right music on the radio and I can still perform the most amazing feats of energy, grace and yes elegance:)