they say if you don’t use it, you lose it. tonight, i realized i lost it, and i never had it.
i’m back in portland for a month and on day two, have already stepped back into my normal portland groove. one of the reasons i love being back in major cities is that they have opportunities for old people to dance. (yes, in dance years, i am old.)
i checked out what was on the schedule at vega dance lab for tuesday, signed up for a month of unlimited classes, and headed to the studio post-work. tonight’s classes included burly q, jazz, and hip hop cabaret. all of these classes should actually just be named bruised knees, strained neck, and broken lower back.
i have not regularly taken jazz or hip hop classes for years. probably something like five years to be exact. there has been the occasional class here or there when i am in portland or find a random class at some fitness place wherever i am living at the time, but since i moved from michigan, i have not performed. and since i moved from portland, i have not regularly practiced.
i have never been the best dancer, but in my early 20s, i was in pretty in tune with my body and evolving nicely into my movement exploration. i performed as part of a hiphop group in college (exhibit a) and a modern dance collective post-college (exhibit b). i felt good. i felt great. i felt fulfilled most importantly.
i went to the studio tonight to relocate that feeling. i’ve missed dance. especially with all the chaos of the world, i miss the physical and emotional release of movement.
but tonight, as i swung my hips from side to side and attempted to convert choreography quickly into my body’s muscle memory, i did not feel good. i definitely did not feel great.
i felt old, out of practice, and incredibly unconfident.
i know, i know… what did i expect? five years is a long time. but as dancers, i think we forget that it is a practice. that learning choreography quickly is a skill. that moving your body dynamically and rhythmically is a skill. that performing art is a skill.
i do know that i still have all those skills. that with time, my body and mind can remember. however, tonight also proved to me that there is one skill i have never had and at this age, i’m pretty sure i should just probably just give up on…
the three classes i took tonight were all about highlighting my nonexistent sexiness skills. a burlesque jazz class, followed by a sexy jazz class, followed by a cabaret hip hop class. two of which were taught by a 6’4 black man & drag queen who has more sex appeal in his pinky toe than i do in my whole body (exhibit c).
i let down my hair to try to get into character. whipping hair all over the place is the universal first step towards sexiness.
i swirled my hips and popped my booty the best i could, but it is hard to look hot while trying to figure out which arm swoops around your head before it wraps around your waist. oh and wait, was that on the beat or on the one? can you do that ridiculously fast, too many moves crammed into one count section again? and again? and again?
sure, with repetition, you eventually master the moves. but even with the choreography in my body, i have never been able to master the attitude. i have always felt way more comfortable with more masculine hip hop or beautiful movement that tells a story. this whole diva thing has never quite sunk into my body.
i remember growing up with dancers who just had it. their movement was so sultry and so confident. a simple turn of the head or flick of the hand felt naughty. but me, i felt stupid.
and tonight, i felt stupid.
now, don’t get me wrong. by no means am i saying that i do not think i am sexy. please do not leave comments telling me how smoking i am (unless, i mean, you just really feel the need… :P). what i am saying is that i envy all the confident men and women out there who have mastered smoldering eyes and sassy struts. you amaze me.
and i’ll keep going to hip hop cabaret in hopes that one day my hair whip will be as good as yours. in the meantime, i guess i’ll keep practicing my pirouettes…
oooooh, yes, I can empathize with you: I had somewhat the same feelings when I quit and started again (several times) long-distance running. I wasn’t so concerned about sexiness but I have noticed that in Indian dance and in the flamenco, age (and skinniness!) has nothing to do with sexiness! wow! keep on dancing!!