Gotta Dance

In my mind, I am a dancer.

I think I daydream about it at least once a day. More, if I’m being truthful. Usually while I’m listening to music.

But, real life is not a daydream. In the waking world, I have two (backwards) left feet.

The thing is….I think, if I could have gotten over feeling self conscious and awkward and unpretty, I could have been a dancer.

For real.

Lucky for me, I have true joy in watching others perform.

From musicals to PBS ballroom dance broadcasts to my children grooving to Nina Simone.

Gotta Dance

Eartha Kitt teaching a dance class. Yes, that is James Dean.

Judith Jamison and Mikhail Baryshnikov dance together during a 1976 press conference to announce the premiere of “Pas de Duke,” a duet choreographed for them by Alvin Ailey set to the music of Duke Ellington.

Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder

American Bandstand

Writing legends Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou dance in the atrium of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, over the interred ashes of Langston Hughes.

Dancers, Mott Haven, David Gonzalez, New York.

Katherine Dunham dancing the Florida East-Coast shimmy with dancer Ohardieno during show “Shore Excursion”. New York, NY. 1943

Young Dancers c.1940s

Black burlesque dancer, Lotti the Body

Julie Andrews and Gene Kelly

Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly

Audrey & Fred dancing


16 thoughts on “Gotta Dance

  1. Oh, man, I really think you should take a class! I know you’re strapped for time, but I bet you’ll find when you’re at the class that you can open up and try dance without fear! I know you can do it!

  2. Every year when my husband asks me what I want for Christmas/Birthday, I say, “Dance classes with you.” I’m still waiting! Dancing with steps (swing, salsa) makes my insides explode with happiness. But I often feel self-conscious when I dance free form. Funny, huh?

  3. The amazing thing about taking dance classes is that you realize how fast your brain can rewire those two left feet into a an integrated pair of dancing feet. The first couple months can be rough, then all of a sudden, you are dancing! You must have an amazing pick of teachers. Ask around and do it.

  4. It’s not too late!!! And it’s amazing how quickly dancing can wipe away self-consciousness. You can be someone else when you dance, have a fresh new start. I was a ballet dancer until I was 18 (with lots of awkward, un-pretty feelings along the way!) and performing really helped me come out of my shell. I desperately miss it — there’s this GIANT longing I feel when I see others dance or see wonderful photos like these… I know how you feel!
    Thanks for posting these photos…made my day. (And, oh what I would give to watch that Pas de Duke in person!!)

  5. I agree, you should totally put taking a dance class on your bucket list! I’m like you though – in my mind I have incredible moves and grace, but in reality I look totally spastic! I still go limp watching Gene Kelly and those kids on American Bandstand though…

  6. Dancing. Oh, dancing. I love to dance. Did it professionally for the first part of my life. And then I stopped. Will always think of myself as a dancer. Not because I knew how to do the steps, but because it is what my body wants to do. I think the best dancers are the ones who love to do it. Don’t let others get in your way, get out there and dance! Nothing feels as good….

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