A Time to Tap

My favorite tap shoes.

My favorite tap shoes.

A million moons ago I taught tap.

I was the kid in middle school and high school who was always in dance classes.  I was the kid who kept taking dance classes even as other students dropped out.  I was the kid who competed in dance.  I was that kid.

My specialty was tap.  I loved tap dancing – the rhythm, pace, sounds – all of it.  And I was pretty good at it.

In my 20s, I was approached by a friend to teach tap at her studio.  I was a young pup, and with my schedule, it was easy and fun.  I taught for her for quite a few years, but when I was pregnant with our second son, I was put on bed rest.  I wasn’t allowed to teach tap – or do much of anything for that matter.  After Squishy was born, I did not go back to teaching tap.  I really didn’t miss it that much.  My hands were full with a three-year-old and a newborn.

But, in the summer of 2012, I was approached by a former dance student of mine named Lacey.  She was in her second year of running her own dance studio, and wanted to talk to me about a few things.

I stopped in and she sat me down and asked me to teach tap for her.  She said all of the right things to convince me to teach: that I was enthusiastic, that she looked up to me, that I was a great tapper and that I was hilarious.

She played the funny card.  I was hooked.

I taught classes at the studio all last year, and realized that, yes, I did kind of miss it.

At first, the mirrors were daunting.  I wasn’t used to seeing my full self in floor to ceiling mirrors.  Do you know what this can do to someone’s self esteem?!  Scary times!  Those mirrors helped motivate me lose weight.  Really.

I also wasn’t used to tapping for three to four hours in a night.  After teaching angelic high school students English all day, tapping until the sun was in bed was a hard transition for me.

Recital time!

Recital time!

But I did miss a few things about teaching dance. First, I missed the kids and how entertaining they were.  Fixing hair bows and tying tap shoes and consoling little girls who missed their mommies was something I was not accustomed to being a mom of boys.  I also missed the thrill of seeing their dance steps finally click – those “I got it!” moments.  I missed choreographing and perfecting recital dances.  But what I missed most of all was me.  I know it sounds strange, but all the memories flooded back about how much I loved tap dancing and who I was when I was knee deep into shuffles, flaps and wings.  I had found a part of me that was lost; a part I truly missed.

Teaching tap again has made me a better person.  It amazes me how life can be a series of reinventions, but sometimes it is important to look back to help remember, reflect and refine today.  Dance does that for me.

My flowers from the recital and my happy dance-teacher face!

My flowers from the recital and my happy dance-teacher face!

On the day of the recital, I told Lacey how important the year of teaching for her had been.      I told her how I found a piece of myself I thought may have been lost forever.  I thanked her for what she had given me – a chance to find a hidden side of myself I had thought was long gone.

She said these words to me: “You made my year special and memorable. I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you.”

Maybe we all find ways to find ourselves.

Gotta love the dance.

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Do the Presidential Debate Dougie

Disco inferno with the healthcare strut, the economy twirl and, the ever popular, family values jazz square.

This past Wednesday was the ever famous (or infamous) presidential debate.

For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t watch them.  Instead, I mused as to what might make the debates more intriguing to watch.

I decided a dance off would be a better debate.

Here is my Facebook status from Wednesday night:

Oh, what a wonderful world.

In a dance off, each candidate could pick a popular dance move to perfect.  I am sure President Obama could rock it out with some of the latest moves, like the Dougie or the new Gangham Style.  And Mitt Romney might nail down a few moves such as The Electric Slide or even a country line dance to try and win over his Southern voters.  This would allow them both to loosen their ties and get groovin’.

Afterward, pros from Dancing With the Stars could come in and work with each candidate.  The prerequisite would be a patriotic tribute to the USA, and ties and stick suits would be tossed out in exchange for any silver lame, sequined costume with an American feel encompassing the good ol’ red, white and blue.  Each would have to perform an extensive tango, salsa and swing dance (for those voters who are still swinging on the fence).  The candidates would be judged on their technique, skill and comfort level.  There could even be a text vote for the best dance candidate.  Go star-spangled sequins and spandex!

After the Dancing with the Stars portion, the candidates would be added into a Broadway-style dance competition.  Talented Broadway choreographers would work with Mitt Romney to bring his own version of Patrick Swayze to Broadway’s might-be-produced Dirty Dancing.  After all, nobody puts Mitt in the corner.

Barack Obama would be introduced to the Broadway revival of Xanadu.  He would have crucial tap dancing sessions a la Gene Kelley as well as roller-skating stylings from Olivia Newton John.  Especially since roller-skating builds family values AND is part of a healthy lifestyle.

The final portion of the dance off would be the freestyle.  Each candidate would have to design a dance to represent America’s diversity.  The dance must be at least two minutes in length and should include, but not limited to, the Macarena, the twist (for the baby-boomers), the sprinkler (because who doesn’t like the sprinkler) and the running man.  Hey, even Mitt’s moonwalk and Barack’s Dougie might make for a standing ovation.  BTW, the Glee dancer is Harry Shum Jr.The celebrity judges would be:       MC Hammer (because we can’t touch this), J-Lo, Madonna, Conan O’Brien,  Jimmy Fallon (because he is my fav), the awesome Asian dancer from Glee and the mighty George Lucas because if George Lucas is there, it is a must-see, epic event.

It would be epic indeed.

Finer Things

Do you remember hearing the Steve Winwood’s The Finer Things song?  Well, it is one of those songs that touches my heart, brings me back to high school and, even, makes me wonder why I would have ever owned a pink unitard.

I did an interpretive dance to this song.  Hopefully, you did not spit out your coffee or choke while reading the last line.  Hence, it is true. I was interpreting that song like it was my job.  To add more sugar to your coffee, I wore a pink unitard.  For dancers, we know that this is an entire body covering, shoulders to ankle leotard.  Sexy?  Not really.  Add in the silver leg warmers, the silver Flashdance belt, and the silver bloomer-type bottoms and you have me circa 1987.  Looking back, I am not proud of the outfit choice, but at that time, I thought it was awesome.

Interpretive dancing aside, I really liked the song.  I heard it first at a church camp I attended called Pennington. When people say church camp is for church and that is the main reason teens want to go, they have never been to church camp.  Church camp is a dating mecca.  Plus, it is a great place to meet new people (aka hot guys) and that is where I met my lifelong friend Erin (who is a guy, by the way).

This morning, The Finer Things song came onto the radio.  Which is strange considering the song was released in 1986 and I wasn’t listening to an 80s channel.  Then I thought, damn that pink unitard and interpretive dance stylings of my younger self.

Sometimes I would like to just be able to groove out again to The Finer Things.  Or, maybe I will just by something cool off of Etsy and call it a finer thing.  Hmmm.  I wonder where that pink unitard is…

Keep shining through