Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Remedial Blue Yonder

As I thought about my upcoming second tap dance lesson last night, in a moment of weakness I dialed the number on the little piece of paper my teacher Roberta had passed out to ask about that offer of remedial help.

Could I come at 3:00 today? She already had a session scheduled with someone else in my class who had missed last week.

So following the sage advice of Mother of Invention, I stopped by the Alexandria Pastry Shop and picked up 2 raisin scones on my way to tap this afternoon.

Lovely house in a lovely neighborhood. Big circular drive. Roberta and Bob were obviously not depending on what they earned through Fairfax County Rec for their retirement support.

I walked into their family room and met the other student needing a little help. Pam, it turns out, is BLIND! Apparently she is determined to learn to tap dance and is doing quite well.

This discovery cast my limitations in a whole new light. I put on my tap shoes with a renewed determination that if a blind person could learn to do this, so could I.

This lesson was an entire hour-long session, starting with the warmup and building up to our “number”, that is the first 90 seconds of our number. The CD was at the rec center, so Roberta just sang as we tapped away.

With two teachers and two students, there was a lot of individual help. These people have the patience of Job. They went over and over the Buffalo and Time Step, repeating the elements of the steps and talking about where your weight is supposed to be. We Buffaloed and Time Stepped until each of us had it and could do repeated steps without screwing up.

When I expressed any inkling of doubt, they reminded me that Beverly, the girl in our class who almost bounces on her taps, was just as klutzy as I am when she started 3 classes ago. She just keeps taking Tap 1 and now dances like a pro. Somehow I don’t think I will ever shuffle off to Buffalo like Beverly, but she gives me hope.

Will I remember this on Sunday? Will I practice in between now and then? No promises.

What I have come to realize about tap dancing is that it is probably the best form of therapy for someone like me who is balance-challenged. It’s all about knowing where your weight is and being able to shift it at will. Roberta even has high hopes for increasing the range of motion of my right ankle. I wanted to tell her it was as good as it’s going to get, but who knows?

Bob himself is a runner, who developed balance issues a couple of years ago. He does tai chi, martial arts, and tap dance. Swears by it to improve balance and hopes to run again.

Roberta did ballet when she was younger, actually being recruited by Juilliard. But her parents said no. She often wonders if she could have made it in the dance world.

Together they are the best ambassadors in the world for tap dance. They love it and want everyone else to love it too.

My parting gesture was an offer to help with costumes for the “show” at the end of class. We are supposed to wear Air Force blue. Remember it’s Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder as we spread our arms like wings.


Blogger Sarah Yost said...

I just found your blog and your lovely writing. I appreciated some of your first entries about coming to Judaism and then to meditation. I'll return.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Sarah -- You are welcome any time to my (mostly) daily rambling. I took a look at your Blog and know I will enjoy reading more to find out how your vegan experiment works out and to see more pics of that beautiful little girl.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

boy would I love to be in that audience! send pics!

6:55 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

You'll be shuffling off to Buffalo in no time at all!

12:47 PM  

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