I can’t dance


I can’t dance.  I never could.  I’m one of the unfortunate few.  (Thanks, Graham Parsons)

I became aware of this as a 7th-grader.  A friend, Cornelia, was trying to show me how to do the Watusi or the Locomotion (remember when dances had names?), and I couldn’t do it.  After about an hour, she looked at me in exasperation and said “what’s wrong with you?” 

Dance as though no one is watching.  Yes, I’ve heard that.  And for a while I did it.  But it’s no fun having people look at you and shake their heads.   My brother-in-law Todd, according to my sister Gretchen, has a theory: “women who can’t dance are no good in bed.”  You can imagine how thrilled I was to hear that.   (I think he’s wrong, by the way.) 

Every once in a while I attempt to encourage myself, usually after seeing a movie like Mama Mia!  “Look, Meryl Streep is so uninhibited!   She’s not a fabulous dancer, but everyone joins in and has a great time, and no one is talking about how awkward she is!”  Of course, that’s a movie, and there’s a script, so they have to follow along and look happy.  And besides, as we all now know, she can channel remarkable people.   I don’t channel.

My sister Mary is a great dancer.  That’s probably part of the problem — old sibling rivalry.  And self-critique.  You know how you hang on to all of those cringe moments from your past (the dumb thing you said in student council when you were in 8th grade)?  Maybe you don’t, and if not, congratulations for being so sane.   I remember each and every one of my bad dancing moments.

OK, Sarah, I know you’re reading this and thinking “WTF?”  Sarah’s a dancer, too, once a professional dancer.  She probably cannot imagine a situation in which the little outlines of feet on the floor are anything but a joke. 

New aspiration, and probably the hardest one yet:  Dance.  Not learn to dance.  Not try dancing.  Just dance, enjoy it, don’t look back, don’t think about it after it’s done, and don’t look at the dancer beside you.  Dance while you still can.


3 responses »

  1. Thank you for admitting this! I am one of the nondancers as well. My mom put me in dance class when I was young, most likely because my sister was so good at dance and my mom deserved a break from both of us. I tried and as my arms and legs flailed while I tried to maintain balance, the teacher and other students kept asking if I was ever going to take it seriously– what isn’t serious about being in a leotard with an audience and realizing you are unable to move like the swan you envision when there are no mirrors? Now I do dance with my 2 yr old but he is quickly surpassing me in the skill department.

  2. From the Mom:
    I put you in dance, you Sprite, because you danced through your day! Back then, I couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting to go to dance class! Now let’s talk about violin lessons……..

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