Streetdance heroes

While I’ve clearly ripped this post’s title from the hit that has recently been revived thanks to ‘Glee’, I have to admit that I’ve never watched the programme.  I just liked the pun & it seemed appropriate.

There are lots of things in life I would say I’m not very good at.  I can’t cut for love nor money.  It doesn’t matter if I use left-handed scissors or normal scissors, use a ‘snip snip’ or ‘glide’ action – I always get wonky, jagged edges.  As someone who prides themselves on wrapping presents well, this is annoying, but I guess it’s not the worst deficiency.

I can’t style my hair very well.  I don’t know if this is sheer laziness or the result of having worn it very short for a long time & having got out of practice at actually doing things to it, but now it’s longer I still only have three variations: bobbed, front sections clipped up, bun.  I don’t do ponytails as I can’t get enough ‘lift’ on the crown to please me aesthetically.  I’ve tried backcombing but I just get so frustrated.  I also get frustrated trying to do anything else with my hair.  Again, this is hardly the end of the world.

I also cannot dance.  Once more, this is not a huge disaster; I’m guessing it’s a fairly common affliction.  But this one has always really bothered me.  I feel awkward & clumsy & inept when dancing.  In the past I have covered this by drinking enough to lose my self-consciousness in any dance-related situation.  These days, though, I don’t drink as much & I no longer felt that I wanted to drink just because of this.  I wanted to tackle the problem at its cause.  So, in the same slightly masochistic way that I make myself watch needles as they’re being inserted, I became convinced that the solution was to go to a dance class.

Around the same time, a friend who is a dancer teacher announced she was starting a new adult class.  ‘Ooo, perfect – I’ll come’, I say.  Then I discover it’s streetdance.  I have no issues with streetdance, but it is possibly the form of dance that I would be least associated with.  On hearing that I’ve started dance classes, most people have guessed lindy-hop or some sort of ballroom.  On hearing that I’ve started streetdance classes, everyone I’ve told has laughed. 

And the laughter is not misplaced.  I’m a poor dancer at the best of times, & the streetdance style is certainly not my forte.  Two months in, I feel that this mis-match has actually done me good.  Most of the time, we do things that we are good at or expect to be good at; we avoid things that aren’t our strengths.  Streetdance is therefore like reverse-psychology.  I didn’t – and still don’t – expect to be good at it.  And I’m not!  Having always been a ‘high achiever’, learning to deal with this ineptitude has been a challenge.  It’s not something that I’m used to, but because I don’t have to be ‘good’ at it, I find I’m relaxing & getting into it more. 

I’m also learning, for the first time, that my body can move.  I may not be very good, but I feel more confident now that I can dance.  I’m learning to trust my body, to feel rhythm & respond, to not impose my brain on my responses.  Unlike other forms of exercise that I do, this is not about thinking; it’s about feeling.  I’m developing a whole new relationship between my brain & my body, a more holistic relationship than I’ve ever known; my attitude to myself from the neck down has always been highly ambiguous & ambivalent.  Streetdancing has proved to be a revelation: the Cartesian mind/body division that has long been embedded in my thoughts – that I have literally embodied – is slowly being diminished.  I have become a whole person.  A whole woman.  I own my body; it belongs to me. 

I have never felt like this before.  That’s why, Miss Claire, you’re my streetdance hero. 

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