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.