Somewhere around age 7, my mother enrolled me in a dance class. Ballet. I lived in small town Wisconsin where there wasn’t a selection of dance studios, YMCA’s or parks and rec offerings. But we had June, 50ish as my memory recalls, a retired dancer with a warm engaging smile of bright red lips, who tricked out her basement with mirrors, ballet barres and wood floors. She taught three classes – ballet, jazz, and baton twirling. Baton twirling? In a basement? Oh well, we were seven, and it was twirling, not tossing.
Like many of my classmates, I ran home from school one day with one of Miss June’s fliers in my hand. I suppose it went something like this.
“Mommy, mommy, mommy, can I, can I, can I?”
My mother was a big city girl who loved the arts. I’m sure she was thrilled when her youngest child wanted to take dance class, so off I went to Miss June’s, filled with eagerness and anticipation.
I’m not sure what happened next, but I suspect the pictures of girls and women in tutus were a warning of what was to come. At a very young age, I knew these hips would never manage yards of bunched up tulle wrapped around thin cords of elastic. And for some reason, I didn’t go back.
But my life as a dancer continued to grow, at least in my imagination. And then at Thanksgiving, eyes wide as I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, I discovered the Rockettes. Tall, lithesome, graceful, athletic. Four adjectives never linked to my name, but I could imagine I was a Rockette. So every year, I still watch the parade, knowing my season of precision moves and high kicks has begun, if only in my mind.
I love to dance and there are probably not ten people who have seen me dance since I left my drunken college days. Oh wait, throw in a couple of weddings and class reunions and that number goes up, but alcohol was, no doubt, still involved. So my dancing became limited to my house in the privacy of my own snickers, until I retired.
At age 58, I decided it was time to bring my Rockette alter-ego alive and I took private tap dance lessons. I found a young, new dance teacher whose price was a steal, so every week, I laced up my Capezio tap shoes and brushed, flapped, and ball changed across the floor. I’d practice at home in the basement, just like at Miss June’s minus the pictures of girls in tutus. And then like the last dancer in the famous Rockette toy soldier routine, I fell.
The fall had nothing to do with dancing, but a piece of raised concrete reached up and tripped me while I was walking down a sidewalk. It took several months for the swelling in my ankle to finally go down enough to get the shoes back on, and I found my way back to my private lesson only to learn the teacher had discovered she was losing money on me, and really raised the price. I stayed with it for eight weeks, but the ankle was still uncooperative and the price just got a little high.
In my mind, I’ll always be a Rockette. It’s easy to be in sync when you are the only dancer! Of course, I’d have to grow another 4 inches and lose half a body in weight , but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make – if only in my dreams.
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” – Mikhail Baryshnikov
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Kathy Bruno says
OK Google (have you seen that commercial?), I've tried commenting over and over, and somehow, each one gets lost when I hit "Publish," but I'm not one to give up, so here goes! Of all your blogs, this one resonated the most with me, because I, too, am a dancer at heart, but not in body. My Miss June was Mrs. Kargis. She used her lipstick to double her top lip. Yup, tap, ballet, and baton, when we were little – oh how I LOVED my tap shoes!! THEN, when we were older, she began BALLROOM DANCING classes. OH BOY!! All of us Catholic school girls thought this must surely be heaven, since BOYS took the classes, too. I'm not sure what bribery their parents offered (no electronics in those days) but they were there!!!
Your blog is such a gift, Pam. I'm not only getting to learn so much about you, but remembering much about me, too.
I always wanted to take ballet lessons when I was a little girl, but not in our family budget. I doubt that I would have lasted long because I just never felt the music. Does Square Dancing count? If I recall, that was MANDATORY in 5th grade at my school, and would never happen in this day and age. The fact that I birthed two daughters who as adults are still great dancers (one a dance minor in college) still amuses me. Good thing there was a good genetic mix available to them! Thanks for another fun read! Sue
I too love your blog. I have tried to comment several times, but have not been successful. I keep trying. �� You speak to me! Keep it up. Your neighbor, Kathy
Pam Sievers says
I am so sorry you've had the challenges with commenting but thanks for persevering. I love the lipstick memory – that's just too funny. Dancing was really an integral part of our social maturity lives as we began to mix with the boys, wasn't it. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and keep enjoying the memories!
Pam Sievers says
Truth be told, I'm sure it was financial as well for me. I'm sure there was one price for the class, and then on the first day, I was probably sent home with a list of required clothes and shoes, and that would not have been in my family's budget either. And I have to tell you, I loved the mandatory square dancing in 5th grade. We may lag the rest of the world in math and science, but I'll be darned, we can out-dosi-do anyone! Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Pam Sievers says
I am soooo sorry you have been unsuccessful in commenting, but thanks for trying again. I'm glad I speak to you! Thanks for taking the time to comment.
I too, was a young dancer, it was tap for me. I didn't last long either. I think Mom and Dad saw no future for me on the Lawrence Welk Show, though I think Arthur Duncan and I could have made an interesting dynamic duo. Now, I just love being your random Rock'n'Roll dancing sister.
Pam Sievers says
Oh, but you would have made a mean Mary Lou Metzger! Oh, what a dancing family we are.