Well, I did it.
I actually got up on a stage in front of two hundred people, dressed in black fishnet stockings, a choker and red sequins, and got through an entire tap number. Four whole minutes. Four really long minutes.
I’m also pretty sure that my performance at the dance recital had a genuine effect on some members of the audience. As I was doing my final bow, I distinctly heard calls for the defibrillator.
There were other dancers from my adult class on the stage, also wearing fishnets and sequins. But I suspect that they may not have been quite as…memorable…during our routine as I was.
You see, they actually remembered the right choreography to the dance.
It isn’t like I hadn’t practiced the number. I faithfully attended my classes, regularly asked my wonderful dance teacher to go over the bits I wasn’t quite getting (about three minutes, 40 seconds of the routine), and even tried to rehearse at home.
Rehearsing at home involved shifting the dining room table to one wall, and tapping on the hard wood floor, clutching the sheets of paper with the steps on them to my nose. I played the music over and over, desperately attempting to remember what arms and feet, hands and head should be simultaneously doing. (One out of four would have been challenging enough.) If I thought it had been hard to get the dance right at the studio, how much more difficult it was to work at home, where I couldn’t keep my eyes constantly fastened on the feet of my teacher!
Incidentally, I also realized, part way through the first home rehearsal that, in hind sight, it might have been a good idea to close the curtains on to the street. Several neighbours, out for strolls, had congregated on the side walk in front of my picture window. Judging by the frozen stances and the dropped jaws, what I was doing was riveting. By the time I actually noticed the growing crowd, I was half afraid that the chip wagon might pull into my driveway.
My fellow tap dancers have always been very supportive, and endlessly encouraging. “Don’t worry,” they said. “You’re going to get those steps in the end!”
Unfortunately, they were still saying that when the curtain opened and the recital music started up.
I drew a complete blank. I couldn’t recall a single step. I debated whether anyone would notice if I suddenly dashed behind the backdrop. Then my feet started to move. Somehow, somewhere, some form of deeply buried dance conditioning kicked in. I started to tap.
I was dancing! I was, as my dad used to say, ‘tripping the light fantastic’. I was truly dancing…
Okay, I was about two beats behind everybody else in the number and on the wrong side!
But stand aside, Fred Astaire.
I was dancing.