July, 1, 2019
Dance was something that made my blood hum at an early age. I loved dancing. I danced everywhere. I loved it.
My only recall tidbits of my first performance of being a dancer. I was a strawberry. It was a tap dance. What I do remember is my Aunt Cindy liberally applying makeup to my face which I absolutely loved.
I used to love to watch people dancing. I used to dance in the living room. I did this awesome dance move in my living room to some sort of music. I would run, jump to the lip of the couch, spin, turn and kick my leg high, arms high in the arm, then drop down to the ground and sashay off. I would continue to do this with a little kick ball change mixed in somewhere. I just made up dances and this was always my power move. I did this once at my aunt’s house on the rez, and my cousins just laughed and I never did it again.
Around the age of 7 or 8, my mom enrolled me in dance classes. I was taking a combo class of tap, jazz and ballet. It was a community class. An introduction class. I took classes with the same instructor, Yasmine, for about a year until she recruited me to take lessons at her studio, A-Z Dance Studio. It was very far across town. I don’t know how my mom was able to swing the cost of the lessons or the driving of taking me but she did. And I loved her for it.
Yasmine, was an excellent instructor. She taught a wide variety of dance. She always had fresh ideas. She was also a belly dancer. Something I also wanted to do, but was too young at the time. Her studio was set up like the inside of Jeannie’s bottle. Pillowed couches and sheer drapes. What was odd, is she smoked these dark cigarettes. She was flamboyant and just lovely
For years, I took this combination of dance. We would practice and practice. Then we would perform at malls, old folk’s homes, convention centers and food festivals. I remember performing ballet to the Blue Danube Waltz at the mall. We performed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Ham Hall. We did a jazz dance to Hanging Tuff in peacock blue cat suits. One time we did a tap number for St. Patrick ’s Day at the Tropicana Casino.
I danced every chance I could. I practiced all the time. I tapped my way to school. Sometimes I wore my tap shoes to school so I could hear my taps on the concrete. While handing out school lunch, I practiced my shuffle ball change. I lived for dance on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.
As I grew up, I grew out of the tap, ballet and jazz. I gravitated toward the belly dancing. I loved the costuming and sensual dancing. I loved the expression in the dancing. I met Laura belly dancing. We became fast friends, being the only teenagers in an adult group of dancers. Laura was a year older than me in school but we got along great. We spent a lot of time together.
We performed at a lot of festivals as belly dancers. Our costumes were quite cumbersome. They jingled and flashed. We were not allowed to be seen fully exposed prior to show time, so if we were at a festival, we had to cover up.
One time, my parent wanted to eat dinner before going to take me to a performance. They made me go out to dinner in full belly dance garb. I jingled and shined at an Olive Garden. It was very embarrassing.
I loved dancing.
I don’t know what happened to dancing. Life I suppose. School. Growing up. As I got older, I just didn’t make time to go to classes anymore. Once I started driving, I stopped going to classes. I went back a few times but it just wasn’t the same.
In college, I hired myself out as a belly-gram dancer. I got a few gigs and made a few bucks.
As an adult, I found another dance studio and started taking dance classes again. I took classes until I had a bad manic episode. I was very ill and had to start taking new medicine. It interfered with my evenings and I couldn’t go to the classes anymore.
I wish I could still dance like my 8 year old self, free to do the couch kick shuffle. However, I’d probably twist a knee, fall down and break a hip.