Today is Monday, which means tonight I dance! I recently began taking a jazz dance class at Miss Ronnie’s Academy of Dance. I received many odd looks from my fellow classmates on my first night at the studio. It wasn’t because I had missed the first class of the new dance year, but because my fellow classmates range in age from 10 to 14.
Despite being a few years, or rather a few decades, older than my classmates, I am not the tallest kid in the class. I’m only sixty and a half inches tall. That is my answer when asked how tall I am. I like to make people do the math. Rather, I like to see if they can do the math. Sadly, not all of them are up to this task. I suppose converting inches to feet is not on the standardized tests kids must pass these days.
I only took one year of dance as a child. It was a ballet and acrobatics class at the local community center. I was 5 years old. I don’t remember much about the class, but I do remember the recital, not being on stage, but being backstage. There was a giant mechanical alligator backstage that we had to walk past to get to the stage. Though I suppose everything looks giant to a 5 year old, and being only sixty and a half inches tall, many things still look giant to me.
I also remember my costume. It was a bright yellow tutu with a swirly blue sequin design on the front of it. I only remember it because I wore it for 5 more years as my Halloween costume until I finally outgrew it.
My adult dance experience has been a bit sporadic. There was a year of ballet with a Russian task master in my twenties, then 7 years of jazz at Miss Ronnie’s during my late thirties and early forties, a couple of years of tap around that same time, and more recently, salsa and Argentine tango. I’m now living in an area devoid of salsa and Argentine tango, so I’m back at Miss Ronnie’s for jazz, and loving it.
My battements are shaping up and my ronde de jambes and pirouettes are coming around nicely. I will never be a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, but while I’m doing combinations across the floor in class or practicing at home, I like to imagine I’m dancing on Broadway.
My classmates are starting to accept me, too, though I don’t think I’ll be included on any of their birthday party guest lists. Indeed, I’m sure they haven’t mentioned me to their parents. A couple of weeks ago, while leaving the studio, I ran into the mother of one of my classmates. She seemed surprised to see me and asked, “Are you taking classes here?”
“Yep,” I smiled, “I’m dancing with my peeps.”