Where Logic Meets Love

I Always Wanted to Be a Dancer...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

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I Always Wanted to Be a Dancer... | Faith Permeating Life
I had a dream that I joined a dance troupe.

It was supposed to be the first day, but it was clear upon arriving that all the other members -- who were all middle-aged women -- had been practicing together for years and had all their choreographed routines down. At the front was a woman who was shouting out directions, but things like "Step out!" and "Push out!" were completely meaningless to me, who scrambled desperately to keep up by watching the rest of the group.

Oh, wait, did I say this was a dream? I meant it was my new exercise class.

Yup, as I said last week, I joined an exercise class through our park district. It's an hour of cardio followed by 45 minutes of strength training.

In all fairness, I did quite enjoy it. My main concerns going in were that I would pass out or I would collapse in a heap of sore muscles halfway through, but I was able to make it through the whole thing without too much difficulty, though I clearly got a good workout and worked probably every muscle in my body. And the instructor has good taste in music -- mostly popular stuff from the past few years.

But I was not expecting to be "the new girl," nor was I expecting that the cardio portion would be like the line dancing lesson we did in middle school, except that everyone else already knew all the moves and there was no lesson, just incomprehensible directions and "follow along!" I found myself being grateful for those dancing lessons in school that I knew what a "grapevine" and a "box step" were, but it was clear that some things were just created out of her own head.

Did I mention everything had hand motions?

This was probably the part I screwed up the most, because while I eventually picked up on what most of the moves meant to do with your feet (though the "double twist" still eludes me), I couldn't keep straight whether your hands went up on the "lift and cross" or the "kick and cross" and if they went up on every step or every other step for the grapevines and shuffles. So I was the one waving my arms in the air by myself most of the time, which everyone could see because I'd positioned myself in the empty spot in the very middle of the room.

So yeah, I looked like an idiot for the majority of the class.

However, the class provided a good opportunity to reflect on how much I've changed. Previously -- even as recently as college -- I would have been mortified to have been stumbling around like a fool in the middle of a bunch of women who were all following along seamlessly. But of all things I felt, embarrassment was not one of them.

I was actually able to reflect on the fact that while everyone else was following along mostly from memory, I was having to go through multiple steps every second: Hear the command, watch the instructor, link the command and the move in my mind, and then actually get my body to reflect what I saw, in rhythm. I felt frustrated when I couldn't get my mind and body to work together. I laughed when she would call out something brand-new and I'd say, "What??" I was proud at how quickly I learned given what I'd walked into, and on the rare occasions that I nailed a whole series of moves, I had a surge of, "This is fun!" the same way I enjoy doing line dances I know at weddings.

I also reminded myself that this wasn't a performance, it was an exercise class, and that given that I achieved an elevated heart rate for the better part of an hour, I had by all counts succeeded.

Thankfully, a few women looked out for me when the strength training portion started. One showed me where the hand weights were, and another offered to share a mat with me when it was time to get one out of the same closet. The first woman did sort of raise her eyebrows at my low choice of weight, though I chose to take it as a compliment that she thought I was stronger than that -- which, believe me, I wasn't, given that I was wishing partway through that I'd chosen a lower one!

Then I came home and slept for two hours.

Looking forward to doing it all over again this Saturday!

Have you ever taken an exercise or dance class?


  1. The most recent one I took was a boxercise class. It had aerobics which were slightly confusing but fine, but the boxing part got me. Yes it was hard, but mostly the germaphobe in me did not enjoy using sweaty public boxing gloves. The thought still makes me grimace!

  2. Given I've been dancing on and off since the age of 5...it's pretty safe to say I've taken a dance class. -.o

    Dance classes were never quite like that for me, but I did take a few exercise classes in college like kickboxing and zumba and such and though I did tend to pick things up fairly quickly (I just pick up dance/dance-like movements pretty quickly), there were certainly moments when I was like, "What?" I tend to find that I have more of those "What?" moments when I'm doing exercise videos because all of the exercise classes I took, the instructor pretty much realized that there might be someone new. But with the exercise videos, half the time they're like, "We're gonna do this. Now go!" Yesterday doing the P90X Plyometrics DVD was quite interesting...especially when they start throwing out names like Rockstar Jump, Mary Katherine Lunge, and Run Squat 180 Jump Sequence. Yea...that...was...interesting.

    1. Yup, exactly, like everyone just knows what a Mary Katherine Lunge is. I like being shown things sloooowly before I have to do them at high speed, so I don't, like, injure myself.

  3. This is funny. I picked up swing dancing in high school and college, and actually got pret good. I competed, went to conferences all over the west coast, taught lessons to earn extra cash, the whole shebang.

    But when I go in to a step aerobics class, I look like a world class moron.

    I don't know. Something about this stiffness of the choreography just doesn't mesh with my body and it's abilities.

    I can handle Zumba classes just fine, and I work out a lot of other ways, but choreographed aerobics? It is beyond me.

    1. Glad it's not just me, then! I enjoyed it and all, but there were many moments where my body just simply would not do what the people around me were doing. Maybe after going a few times I will learn the routines. We'll see!

  4. I used to do belly dancing and I loved it. I picked it up really easily, and found it was perfect for someone like me who can move to music but generally lacks the coordination to do more strict types of dancing. The great thing about my belly dancing class was that if you couldn't quite pick up a move there was always a similar move you could do instead, as long as you kept smiling and gave the impression that you were doing exactly what you were supposed to do. The class I was part of was open to all ages and abilities and was very friendly. I really miss it actually. I'll have to pick it up again some time.

    1. Awesome! That sounds like a lot of fun. One of my roommates in college did belly dancing.


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