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Moon Lore

Baring My Soul Through Motion

“Locked in this dance is a secret language that tells the story of women’s lives… their passions and their spirituality, their sacrifices, their joys, their intuitions, their emotional life drama.”
~ Delilah (about the sacredness of belly dancing)

I can still hear those wondrous melodies wafting on the air. They are my earliest memories: the big bands of the forties, the war ditties and the sweet, sad love songs of the early fifties. No particular events attach themselves to the memories. They are sound alone. Sounds that made my heart sing, and my tiny feet want to dance.


Tribute, by Laverne Ross, art print

Here I am, all these years later, and I still don’t know how to dance. Oh, I’ve tried. Diligently in my teens. I wanted so much to be on the floor at the sock hops. Slow dances were okay. I had a partner to lead me. Fast dances were hopeless. My left foot wouldn’t follow my right, and my bottom seemed disconnected from my top. I spent a lot of time watching those amazing girls who were able to coordinate all their parts, keep time to the beat and look good doing it.

A couple of them were my best friends. They wasted many an hour trying to teach me. Without luck. Oh, if I moved slow enough, I could get the steps in the right order, but speed up the music and everything just fell apart. None of us knew then that coordination would be my lifetime problem. Today they’d have a fancy name for it. Back then we just called it clumsy.

Slowly I accepted my fate. Dancing didn’t seem as important after I left high school. Sure, I went to the occasional club and occasionally got asked to dance. I faked it, sipping my coke slowly and making small talk until the next slow tune. Fortunately, most bands made sure there were plenty. A career and children took over, pushing the urgency even further back until it seemed a distant memory.

Then I found ballroom dancing on television. Every so often, I’d get to watch the world finals of dance. I envied every step those glorious couples took. I studied them too. What were they doing that I could imitate? It was hard. First, I had to identify what they were doing. That was a challenge of its own. What were their hips doing when their feet did that? How did their hand and arms relate? Bit by bit, I began to decipher the whole of it. But I still had to practice one body part at a time. Get the hips right, I found out, and the feet are more liable to follow. I’d been doing it the other way around. Once that was not falling-down silly, the shoulders and arms came into focus, followed by the posture of the hands. Yes. Posture of the hands. Who knew?

But it wasn’t that simple. I had to take the long way around. For the hips, now far too wide, I turned to hula, writhing only a few beats behind the free videos on cable. Well, sometimes more than a few. Next came belly dancing, then country two-stepping. One small movement at a time, over and over and over until the weirdness was shed and I felt a modicum of confidence. Not confident enough to invite anyone to watch. Oh, no. I danced behind closed doors when the house was empty. Even the cats were banished to the outdoors. At last, I finally dared tell someone. Not show them. Just tell them. Even that made me shudder.

All of this led to looking forward to Dancing with the Stars. Oh, I know. Sappy and all that. But they gave me hope. Some of those beginners were in the same boat I am. Or worse. Imagine that. Worse. Who knew? I hadn’t thought that was possible. And the show included behind the scenes workouts, with the pros showing how to dance. Perfect. Taped it and played it back. Twenty, thirty, forty times. But I began to get it. I began to see the flow of the hip and the curve of the back even when they were on the contest floor. I still couldn’t do it, but at least now I know what I’m shooting for. It’s only taken….oh, no, I can’t remember. How many seasons has it been?

Oh, great, I finally get to where I can remember those elusive steps, and now my memory’s failing. Does that mean I must hurry to catch up, or that it won’t be that much longer before I don’t remember what it was I wanted to learn?

Either way, I’m betting I’ll still remember the words to those songs. Every time the melodies waft passed my ear, my heart will sing, and my feet will want to dance. This time, they really can.

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