Dance Lessons: One Month In

I’ve been taking dance lessons for a month now. Twice a week.

It’s harder than it looks.

You have to pay attention to the way your body stands and moves. Body parts you’re not used to paying any attention to at all. Like your arms and legs.

Once you learn to walk, you forget about how to move your legs. How to stand up. How to stand on one leg.

Then, when you start dance at age 46, you all of a sudden have to pay attention to them again.

Then, you have to do the same thing with your arms. You can’t just let them hang any which way. But getting them to move the way they’re supposed to doesn’t come easy. It takes concentration.

Then, you have to do the same with your back, your shoulders, your feet, your hips, your abdominals, your ass. Pay attention to where they all are. Which muscles tense, which relax.

Once you become aware of muscles you weren’t aware you had, the hardest part is paying attention to all of them at once. I can usually pay attention to two of them, sort of. Three is really pushing it. Four… Well, let’s just say, I have a long way to go.

I used to think I was fairly coordinated. I was wrong.

Maybe it’s because I can’t yet really pay attention to more than one thing at a time that I find combinations involving moving my leg one way and my opposite arm the other way impossible. Left foot out, right hand up at the same time. Not going to happen. Not for a while.

Over the years, I’ve been to a few dance recitals. Kids from churches.

I’d never really been impressed with those recitals. To my uninitiated eyes, it all looked like a lot of running and jumping around. It hadn’t occurred to me that what they were attempting was really hard.

Granted, they weren’t the New York City Ballet. We saw the NYC Ballet in Saratoga last summer. They did stuff that looked hard. As in, “you gotta be crazy to try that shit,” hard. And they did it well.

The kids at dance recitals were doing hard stuff, too. Even the basic stuff — hold your hand out like this, not like that, keep your toes pointed, bend your knees this way, turn your chin to the shoulder, other hand up like so — is hard enough.

Some things you just don’t know until you make a real attempt yourself.

Kudos to those kids at the dance recitals. You have my belated appreciation.