5 – 6 – 7 – 8 . .
So my dance teacher counted at the start of each number.
Six years ago, I spent seven hours at dance school, outside of my day job as a secretary.
One hour for jazz. An hour for hip-hop. An hour for ballet, and another for isolation. That’s on Sunday.
Monday evenings, after work, were solid three-hour salsa nights. An hour each for basic, intermediate, then salsa practica. Dancing with anyone who invited me on the dance floor — thumping gloriously with hot Cuban beats! And many twirling bodies 💃🏻.
What a way to start the week and beat the Monday blues!
If you think I spent too much time at the dance school, well, there were others who spent nine hours there outside their day jobs. Or school. (Yeah, they were much younger than me.)
Those were days I always, always look back on .. Fondly.
The soundtrack to those dancing days.
My lovely teacher, Yanqing (that’s her name :-)) had a great collection of music for jazz warm-ups. What’s jazz warm-up? That’s plenty of stretching from the neck all the way to the toes, especially with the back and legs. Then kicks, sit-ups, and movements to ease us into the choreography for the day. I loved jazz for all those linear movements; those runs, turns and spins that take dancers distances across the stage. Still. Love it.
Bruno Mars, Imogen Heap and Adam Lambert — their music, often accompanied these warm-ups. It’s how I discovered them, and other cool music with terrific beats. Some of my favourite tunes from those days were ‘Count On Me’, a super-sweet song from Bruno Mars; ‘First Train Home‘ from Imogen Heap (love her quirky-ethereal tones!) and ‘Whataya Want From Me‘, a mega-dapper hit of Adam Lambert’s. (Also a great song for a bad boy to sing to a good girl?)
Music always has a way of crystallizing memories for me. Certain songs define an age. Some attach themselves to moments, places or various seasons in life. Seasons alone. Seasons with others. Gregarious moments. Pensive moments.
There are songs that trigger time-travel, vivid flashbacks of scenes from long ago, seemingly mundane that anyone should have thought them forgotten. Perhaps I cherished those moments more than I realised. Perhaps I’m a human being with an elephant’s mind?
You only know as time reveals.Music is a time capsule, an invisible key that unlocks floating memories in space and time ...Click To Tweet
I performed a total of 5 recitals in my one-and-a-half years there. 3 jazz numbers, a funky hip-hop and a sexy hip-hop! I almost pulled out of the first jazz recital, for fear of screwing up the entire group performance. (T’was a Bruno Mars track.)
Fact is, I was just at my second jazz lesson when my teacher announced the recital. My sister and two close colleagues went: “What? Are you sure you can do those moves?” when I showed them the video of the dance sequence 🤣🤣 . However, I had the sweetest and most encouraging of dance-mates who told me I can do — what I didn’t believe I could.
When I told Yanqing that I should back out of the recital after someone knocked into me during rehearsal, she said everything would be fine on the actual performance (and that she didn’t see the ‘accident’ due to the large group of us). “Things will just work out … dress rehearsals are for mistakes to happen”.
I guess it was a faith born of many years of performances.
So I stepped onto the stage with the other dancers, on my first ever recital, with great audacity.
It turned out fine, just like she said.
Dancers clock in performances on stage.
That’s what Tamil, my hip-hop teacher, said. For myself, I clocked in ‘little victories’ with every recital I performed and emerged unscathed 😅. These, and Yanqing’s words whenever we doubted ourselves: “You just have to believe that you can do it” — have followed me since, reminding me to always give myself a chance.
As Moana says, “If I go, there’s just no telling how far I’ll go.”
I wish I’d started ballet young.
Say five years old or seven. Could I be a dancer now — leaping; almost flying, through a studio or down a hallway in a series of grand jetés? Like an impala, gazelle or pronghorn, loping through the great Serengeti, expressing its joy of life — limbs afire, relishing this body of taut muscles, a coiled spring ready to unwind! That’s what I think of when I watch my teachers, or other professionals dance … I wish I could be like them.
Of Swing and Big Band … let’s do the shimmy and relive those jivin’ days!
I caught the dazzling craze and energy of swing recently. You know — the Charleston, Lindy Hop, Quickstep and the Shimmy! Last year, the Duke Ellington Orchestra visited Singapore and performed a 75-min free concert at the Botanic Gardens! A revelry like no other — the crowd on mats having a picnic and visibly sweating; some sitting on grass, like me, even the humid heat of the evening did not diminish the joy of being with this orchestra 🤩. I came away from the concert raring to buy Duke Ellington’s music, not least ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’, ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Cotton Tail’!
What was Jive? Thanks to American GIs who brought it round the world during World War II 😘
Electrifying to watch and even more to dance! Jive, with its outrageous lifts, jumps and acrobatics, was the trendy name for the ‘lindy hop’ — that started in 1927, during one of the popular dance marathons in New York City, to celebrate Charles Lindbergh’s becoming the first pilot to ‘hop over the Atlantic’. Next came the Jitterbug, a blending of the Lindy Hop with a different styling, danced to music of the great swing masters of 1937. Teenagers were mad for it, and styles continued changing with the trends — turning into American swing, West Coast swing, boogie woogie, among many other variations — till it was all generically grouped and called jive (or swing)!
Did I get you in the mood for swing? Cos I always am 😉
My wish for you, Reader, is that you’d dance your way to becoming ..
Who knows just where you’ll go, and whom you’ll meet?
So we dance till next ..