10 Minute Tuesday: Dance



Dancer in a Split Leap

A writing exercise I recieved months ago was to write a scene that shows your character doing what he or she loves.  I don’t know why I put off writing it.  Maybe something about the prompt seemed intimidating.  I’m trying to stop seeing writing as a insurmountable task that I am not good at and more as something wonderful that flows from me that I am, and in fact, at which I am good.  Deep cleansing breath in.

Again, this is just a timed write, filled with errors and messiness.


The hardest thing to do is to describe dancing and the feeling I get when I am doing it.  How can you put into words the turns, leaps, dramatic falls to the floor that somehow transition to being back on your feet and beginning a second eight count, a third, a fourth, each equally as indescribable  and amazing as the first? Even when Miss Johnson, whose voice is always patient and loving even when neither are deserved, calls out the steps it sounds demanding and cold.

It’s much easier to describe the crushing blow of embarrassment. It kind of feels like twirling to the right and colliding into a ninety pound stick figure in ballet flats and then falling to the ground while that ninety pound stick figure looked down on me with a smirk and an eye roll.   “Watch where you’re going” it said, steady on her feet, no sign of having been in a collision,  before stalking off. For a  ninety pound stick figure,  Sabrina is oddly solid and well balanced.  Like tires.

“Don’t worry about her Saint Libs,”  Troy stepped forward and helped me  up.  We rush to our places  as Mis s Johnson reviews the steps again.

Standing behind Miss Johnson, my eyes were glued to her feet as she demonstrated the first eight count of the combination.  I ignored the arm movements as I traced her feet’s movement with my eyes.  If I watched hard enough maybe the moves would stick.  Even as we marked the steps, each of us mimicking her steps slowly across the floor I can only watch her graceful feet as she dances.

“Eyes up Libby.  You want the audience to see your face, not the top of your head.” Her voice knocked me out of my intense state. “Everyone, looking at your audience exudes confidence.  Even if you mess up, just keep going.  Pretend you know what you’re doing.   Just dance.  How do they know that it’s not your solo?”

We nodded and chuckled in agreement.  Her confidence in us changes the charge in the air from the cool sharp edge of fear to a warmer willingness to try to believe in our ability to just move.

I heard my voice articulate the trimmer of anxiety that had welled in my chest.  “But won’t they know we messed up when the actual soloist is dancing?”  The heads of my classmates began to shake.  Leave it to Libby to pop the bubble of good times.  “I mean, I just don’t want to mess up and have everyone else focusing on my messing up instead of where they should be focused.”   I tugged at the hem of the black shorts I wear over my pink tight and studied the way her eyebrows knitted themselves beneath her crop of dark bangs.   She was really thinking of an answer, not  just thinking of a way to get me to stop talking.

“That’s a valid concern,” she said causing all heads turned away from me and towards her.   That’s right, I’m Libby the valid question asker, not the bubble popper.  “You have to trust yourself though.  You have to trust that you’ve done all that you can to learn what you need to know.”  She looked  at me, into me, as she spoke, ignoring the 15 pairs of eyes that watched and listened. “ When the time comes, you just have to trust that you can let go of all that you fear and that you’ll be able to give it your best and that it will be the best it could ever be.”

Image: ‘Desperation; Who holds your heart?

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