Dancing Fool

I want to dance.  There, I said it.  I want to leap in the air and land in a split and do double pirouettes.   I want to tap out entire Gershwin rhapsodies with my toes.  I want to kick my leg so high it has to apply for a Canadian visa.

Actually, I’ll settle for decent jazz hands.  I just want to move like a dancer.  But I’m not sure how hard I want to work for it.  And that’s the key, isn’t it?  Dancing, like every art, requires sustained effort.  And the willingness to look like a fool.

Balance, Feb. 2013 024I know because I danced for many years.  I was never what you’d call a real dancer, but I started dance classes when I was four, and studied pretty consistently until I graduated from college at twenty-one.  I also acted and sang, but I never imagined myself becoming a professional actor.  I believed in dance as a pure and powerful art form, and I loved the combination of athleticism and grace I saw in professional dancers.  I thought I could live without acting, but I would always want to dance.

And yet.

I knew there was something missing from my dancing, something absolutely essential that I lacked.  In college, I realized that dance required both intense discipline and wild risk.  I was both too lazy and too uptight.  What to do?

One day, when I was working backstage on a dance production in college, I heard some of the dance majors talking about a particular piece, or a class, or a teacher. I don’t remember the subject, but it doesn’t matter.  It was the way they talked that struck me.  They were in love with dance.  They had what I lacked:  passion.

And then it hit me.  They felt about dance the way I felt about acting:  they would die without it.  They were most themselves when they were dancing.  All their discipline, all their hard-earned skill, all their crazy abandon, came from within.  They were driven by love.  Suddenly I was free – free to let go of dance, free to acknowledge that I had passion in spades, but it wasn’t for ballet or modern tap or anything else that happens in a dance studio. 

My passion was for acting.  That’s what I couldn’t live without.  Surprise, surprise.

Acting takes work, you say?  And emotional risk?  No problem.  I can spend hours figuring out a scene or digging into a text.  I’m happy to warm up my body and voice.  I love to go out on a limb in rehearsal, risking failure to find the right connection with my scene partner.  I am willing to keep working on a role right up to the closing performance.  It doesn’t even feel like work to me, because I’m passionate about it. 

I never had that kind of passion for dance.  But I want to be a better actor, so I’m prowling for new skills.  And yeah, I want to dance.  Over the next few months I plan to revisit the dance studio and see what I discover.  Maybe, with a little discipline and a healthy dose of humility, this old dog can learn some new tricks. 

Jazz hands, anyone?

2 thoughts on “Dancing Fool

  1. Can a child of the Carpet Metropolis
    Cut a rug now and then, serendopilous?
    Sure, just go easy
    On ankles and knees;
    Time works his talent to topple us!

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