Yesterday, I taught what was supposed to be my last class for ten days. The studio closes for the holidays, so I’m getting some time off. I even canceled Yoga for the week. I’m going to Florida for a visit next week, but first I will enjoy spending a few days at home, sans responsibility.
Meanwhile Denver, God love her, decided to plan an impromptu rehearsal for some of the students to practice a parade step (a marching dance to the FLEX song). She made arrangements for us to dance down Main Street the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the big light up Blue Ridge festival, you see. I appreciate her enthusiasm, so when she called me last minute to come help, I couldn’t refuse. And in I go to the studio on Friday, my sacred day off.
Denver teaches the march and I putter on the computer out front, working on the studio newsletter. Then we decide to take the kids outside to practice around the parking lot with me driving the van with the music cranked as high as it can go. Old school. The problem is, these kids have never been exposed to a dancing parade, and so they don’t quite get basic elements like how to keep formation or remember the steps or pace themselves. We have a rather long haul in front of us if we ever want to train real dancers. Now it is a matter of getting by and not being embarrassed by a handful of stark beginners.
We decide someone needs to dance in front of the group, and Denver suggests we let Jason (her boyfriend) drive so the two of us can work the group. OK, that means I’ll help and actually do the parade. I haven’t had to actually dance in the parade in about 20 years. I’ve always been the chief honcho on the float waving to the crowd while Mark and other teachers handled our 100 plus dancers stretching out like a FLEX kite tail from the float. The good news is, this is a very short parade distance – perhaps 20 minutes of dancing unlike the 3 mile one hour dancing we had to do in Sarasota. I can handle that.
Then, I come up with a brilliant idea. What we need is Santa leading the pack to make this fun – that way no one will notice how “unseasoned” these dancers are. And I just so happen to have a new, wooly Santa mascot costume that I bought ‘Just in case” we wanted to do a holiday performance with our young kids.
Denver says, “Don’t look at me. I have to run around the dancers to make sure we don’t lose any of the little kids and to make sure the dancers stay paced. “
“OK, then I’ll do it.”
Denver says, “Mom, you can’t dance in that costume for the entire parade route. You’ll afixiate!”
I was thinking I’d be much more comfortable dancing with my face hidden underneath this costume, not taking myself seriously, than leading the pack like some figurehead thinking she was all that. I insist I can do it and climb into the costume.
The head of this thing is like a gigantic pillow, hot and stuffy and the stuffing covers your mouth like a gag. It is lovely to be able to breathe while exercising, but right now I’m thinking I can stand to go san’s air for a mile or so…. All in the name of making this first exposure of the school to the local crowd memorable, of course.
So I try dancing first in the studio, then behind the van for one round of the FLEX song. About die. I’m wheezing and sweating and thinking that if I don’t take off the head and gasp some air into my lungs, I’m going to puke. But I keep dancing. Heck, I’ve accomplished harder things than this.
When we finish, Denver looks at me and says, “Well?”
“No prob.” I lie. “Piece of cake.”
Man, what I won’t do to make things fun for friends.
So, I’m dancing in the Blue Ridge Christmas parade next week. I figure I’m bound to loose 5 pounds if I don’t pass out. I’m going to have to gear up for it, do some serious running this week and practice some efficient breathing if I don’t want to crash half way through. But hey, you are never too old for a challenge, and I kind of like being put to the test if it makes the event more fun.
Meanwhile the kids are saying, “You’re not fat enough . . .you need more stuffing to be a decent Santa!”
“Stuff this . . “ I want to say, but instead I smile and say “A dancing Santa is supposed to be lean. Besides which, this costume is huge. I look big enough . . “
What counts is that the kids were laughing and having fun, which is exactly the feelings I want them to associate to dance and this new studio.
We are a serious school of course. If you don’t believe me, check out this photo of Kent two minutes after he came into dance class with some of his buddies one night. Yep, I run a classy place. But everyone will agree, it just wouldn’t be a FLEX without the playfulness.