Confessions of a (non) dancer

Posted on 2011 November 29 Tuesday


Edited: Saw the quote below from a dancer I know – She saw it on a T-shirt – I had to put it up here.

“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” – ‘borrowed’ from Maggie Jo Homer w/ Permission

I can’t dance. It’s a true fact. You know how you’ve heard of someone having two left feet? Well, I have two right ones. Yep, it’s that bad. Which could explain something else. I love dancers. Unequivocally. Even the ‘prima-donnas’ (who, in my experience, are very rare). I may not like the person or the personality, but if they can dance, I love them (the last may be slightly hyperbolic, but pretty true). To watch someone dance, no matter the style, watching the movement, the rhythmic timing, the way the body can move: indescribable joy and magic. You have to understand that I feel that way about most of the fine and performing arts. Artistic creation, regardless of medium or style is, in my humble estimation, one of the true ways to commune with the divine, however you personally choose to define it.

Which is why I am so thrilled that The Mouse loves to dance. And sing. And tell stories and draw and paint and build (castles, towers, tents, projects, everything) and take photos, make up plays, etc. (Yes, she really does do all these things, as only a 3 year old going on 4 going on 20-something can do… with unabashed joy and confidence, pure and unadulterated creation, a communion with the divine). She already has at least three shows she has told me about: Pony in the Sky (the pony will be a costume, she says), Little Girl Climbs a Tree (she wants to play the little girl), and The Alligator (This last one involves alligators and cats and dogs and small children… I got a little lost in her description, but there apparently will be some chasing and at least one of these gets eaten but it all turns out ok in the end. She promised me).

And when The Mouse asks me to dance, it is elation indescribable. And so we do. And we dance to the music (Thank You Pandora!). We jig and twirl and spin and laugh and dip and gasp for breath and lift and toss and catch and then I hurt myself. Dancing is physically demanding. The best ones make it LOOK effortless. I promise you, I’ve seen them rehearse. It takes hundreds of hours to make it look effortless. Dancing with a 3-4 year old is also physically demanding. I’d put it on par with iron-mongering (I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds physically demanding).

I hurt my back. Again. Which, unfortunately, cuts short our dancing. It hurts to jig and twirl, and to dip and lift. Now, I know this is temporary. It usually only takes a couple of days at the most to stop hurting. Which is Forever in the world of The Mouse.

When I try and explain it and The Mouse says, “Don’t worry. I’ll kiss it and make it better,” and she does (heart-melts-soars-endorphins-lie-to-me-for-a-moment-and-say-it’s-SO-much-better). It still hurts physically, but I smile and tell her it’s better. And we dance a little more. Until even the smallest jig is painful. And I try and explain this. The Mouse doesn’t understand pain the way adults do. Not yet, thankfully. All she knows is that Poppa won’t dance with her right now(Forever). And she walks away, head down. I ask if she is mad at me. She looks at me and says “No. I’m just sad,” and then walks away to another pursuit, a different game, another act of creation, but without me. She’s over the sadness in moments. Communion with the divine seems to do that. So separation from the divine would seem to provoke the opposite. Maybe that explains the pain in me that goes beyond the physical pain I feel. And why those dances with The Mouse are worth any amount of temporary discomfort.

For some reason, as we grow older, and we get caught up in being grown-ups: the rat-race of paying bills, working, being responsible, putting away childish things. We forget this connection, this act of creation that humans have been gifted with. We become divorced from the divine. We look at the almighty dollar or work or how ‘badly’ we do something artistic or dismiss it as ‘childish’. We deny this act of communion. We dull the creative spark that connects us to the universal spark. We become less human. I’m not sure what we change into, but I do know it is less than what we should be.

Even if you don’t feel like you are any good at the ‘creative’ stuff, at least once in a while, give it a whirl. You don’t have to be a Tallchief, Astaire, Rogers, Hopkins, Lamar, Macy, Rembrandt, Casat or any other idol. I promise you all these people didn’t start out that good. But the ‘good’-ness of creative expression shouldn’t be measured in external measurement or comparative means. If it brings joy to you, brings you into the communion with something beyond the self, or just makes a mouse laugh and she allows you to dance with her for awhile, isn’t that worth everything else?