"" Writer's Wanderings: Remembering My Modern Dance Moment

Monday, December 11, 2017

Remembering My Modern Dance Moment

It will be more than 50 years this June since I graduated from high school. Somewhere in my freshman year (that would have been the first year in high school--before the middle school concept), the Phys Ed. teacher decided to have a unit on modern dance. To this day, I still do not understand what that had to do with my physical education. It should have taken place in a music class--one that I'd never take.

I don't want to appear to brag, but I was good in gym class. I played a good game of basketball, could hit well in softball, and would have loved to have gone on to Olympic training in gymnastics--I even made the cheerleading squad in junior high. I was too shy to make it in high school. And then she threw this modern dance unit at us. We had to pick out a piece of music and interpret it in some kind of physcial movements. Not all of us had dance lessons. I'd had them but that was when I was 4 or 5 years old. Obviously no one saw anything in me then to encourage my mother to continue with them.

There was a piece of music on one of my LPs that sounded like a busy person so I decided to imagine a secretary at work. I bustled around on an excercise mat, did a couple somersaults, squated as though I were sitting at a typerwriter, and, in general, felt like I had made a real fool of myself. I can't remember my grade. I didn't care what it was. I just wanted it over with.

We went to see Movin' Out, the musical, a few years ago. It is Billy Joel's music arranged into a story about coming of age during the 60s-80s. While the musicians sit above the stage in the background, there is a troupe of extremely talented and energetic dancers who, through dance only, portray the action. It didn't take but a minute for me to recognize that there before me, in much better looking costumes than yellow gym suits, was the modern dance unit from my past. There were a few elements of ballet thrown in, but other than that, the physical movements, the gymnastics, the portrayal of anger, grief, etc., through the movements on stage, were right out of that gym class.

So, 50+ years later, I finally get it. I wasn't so far off back then. I should go back and get take a look at that grade. I'm sure it should have been better than it was.

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