No cross-country move is complete without a defining embarrassing moment.
Mine took place at the gym.
I arrived at a group fitness class called, simply, “barre”. I had been to a barre class before, in New Orleans. It was one of those trendy new workout classes that basically promise a dancer’s body by doing tiny squats barefoot while touching a ballet barre. I had loved it, despite being unable to walk for two days afterward.
As I took off my shoes, I noticed several people in the room were wearing ballet slippers. I rolled my eyes. These people think they can do tiny squats better than I can because they have legit ballet shoes, I thought. I’ll show them.
The class started with 30 minutes of abs and stretching to classic Al Green. In this basement studio, with exposed pipes and a warehouse-esque feel, I felt very big-city. Basically, I was feeling positive about the experience.
And then we were told to stand at the barre.
And then some classical music straight out of Swan Lake or something started playing.
And then, without any instruction, everyone started plie-ing. Except me.
Let me back up and tell you about my dance history:
- A ballet recital at age five that lives on through photos. Photos, it should be noted, that show me doing something entirely different than the rest of the class.
- Spending approximately 75% of my high school years watching bad dance movies. Save the Last Dance, Center Stage, Bring it On, Step Up. No cheesy dance movie escaped unwatched.
- Hiring a Klezmer band to perform at my wedding so that the only dancing I would need to do would be running around in a circle. At my wedding, a friend’s date watched his first hora. Afterward, he pulled me aside and said “I’m so excited that there’s an entire culture of people who dance worse than I do!”
Back in the “barre” class — which I was quickly learning was actually a “classical ballet” class – I was trying my best to keep up. When the rest of the class was up, I was down. When they leaned back, I bent over. At one point I stood completely still and pretended like I didn’t exist.
While “dancing”, I must have gotten really into the (horrifically awkward) moment. I pushed too hard on the barre, which was freestanding, and moved it halfway across the room, leaving my fellow dancers balancing on thin air.
From that point on, the person behind me started hissing at me.
“Demi-plie means half bend!”
“Repeat this step three times!”
“After this, jump twice!”
I looked over my shoulder. It was a 60-something man in a silver leotard. I swear he was not wearing a leotard at the beginning of class, otherwise I would have gotten the hint that the class required more experience. This man, tall and poised, was obviously a professional dancer.
“How did you know I needed extra help?” I mumbled sarcastically.
He turned away with a snobby smirk on his face. “Some questions, you just don’t answer.”
We all love a good story about two unexpected souls becoming the best of friends, yes? Usually it’s animals. A dog and a cat, a fox and a hound.
In this case, it’s a spaz with two left feet and a 60 year old professional male danseur. He spent the rest of the class genuinely trying to help me, and encouraged me to come to another class. And you know what? It was fun. And so I did.
Now that I’m practically a professional ballerina, I would love to offer my services as dance teacher to you and your friends at this weekend’s Shalomcoming, hosted by the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Young Leadership Division! We might look a little weird leaping across the dance floor to DJ Becca Gee’s hip-hop and top 40 set, but I think we’ll be a hit. With my personal instruction, you might even attract that special someone to accompany you to the photobooth.
I’m assuming none of you will take me up on that offer, but you should definitely take me up on this one: If you pre-register for Shalomcoming before Thursday, you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card to Loring Kitchen and Bar! What are you waiting for? Register now!
Photo: Dancing in a circle – even I can do it!