Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Dancer in me

I have always loved dancing, ever since I vaguely know what dancing is, or looks like - in my tender age of primary school going years; in my small hometown with a shrouded view of performance arts and entertainment.

For me then, to be able to move gracefully and skilfully is power, almost like a super power, or special talent.  In my little head, I think the people I saw on the TV screen strutting their stuff are attractive and powerful people who can get what they want in life - because they are such beautiful dancers.  I don't know how or where I got that idea from but it just happened.

After my sister left home to work in the city, I had our bedroom to myself.  In the middle of that small bedroom - was my dance floor.  That tiny patch of 5x4 feet was where I dance - or moved my body according to whatever little "received pronunciation" I had back then for dance.  I would dance to the music they played on Radio 4, or on my cassettes; seeing the image of a beautiful dance in my head.  Sometimes I watch the reflection of myself in the glass window, I could see it better in the evening when the lights are on in my room.

In high school I remember performing at our annual Girl Guides and Scouts concerts..or some other school outings, I especially remember rehearsing and working hard to dance to songs like Janet Jackson's Black Cat, Mariah Carey's Dream Lover, and something by Black Machine.  Haha..

It was really pure joy and fun to dance back then, when there was no one to examine us, compare us (and me), and correcting our moves.  I in fact cannot even remember who were the choreographers, must have been one of our schoolmates.  But I remember in my mind our choreography were sophisticated - for us teenagers from Chinese school in Taiping.

I guess if singing is the thing I do to define my vocation in life, then dancing would something I do to show the world the inner child in me, the person who loves to play.

Ironically, many years after I played hard in dancing to Janet Jackson's songs I came to understand how much training, discipline and handwork is needed to 'play' it well.  This understanding came after attending weekly dance classes for years, what I do for fun.

The one thing that I always feel a little embarrassed to admit is that I have more fun in dance classes than my singing classes (perhaps not being a professional dancer is one of the reasons).  Sure, I have my fair share of frustrations in dance classes too with catching up with choreography, with technique and all that but it doesn't come close to the amount of fun and joy I get in dancing in a class - it all makes up for it.

Then, about two to three years ago I started watching myself dancing in videos - be it in classes or rehearsal for love performances and musicals.  The sight of myself dancing was a gross monstrosity to my eyes because the captured performance is honest and transparent, all my flaws are pronounced. I was puzzled and spent a great deal of time trying to figure out why I look horrible on videos even if I felt great dancing a piece of music.  By that time my ability to remember and to learn choreography has improved a lot so it wasn't that I couldn't do it, I just look horrible doing it.  Ok, if not terribly horrible, I look weird, stiff, and not convincing.  Funnily, I didn't go to my dance teacher then to ask her why, I showed my friend my videos and asked her.  Callista is a part time Latin dancer and an old friend and she is generous with her knowledge and sharing.  She watched me dance and saw my videos and told me my upper back is crazy stiff. "All the movements that involve working your back, curling and such, you don't `finish' the moves properly - hence it looks not so nice."  Callista told me it is something I can work on to overcome.  "Ok, got it!"

And then I started noticing my bowleggedness. This 'cacatness' affect the aesthetics of my movement and postures in dancing.  This time round I take the case up with my dance teacher, my ballet teacher to be specific.  Miss Nell said, "Yes, you are bow-ledgged.  Don't worry, we can work on it and you will still look good IF YOU WORK HARD."

More than a year ago when I was planning my first solo concert I had the vision of me being in my finest physical form, singing and dancing - holding on own in doing both that I love.  When the script writing came for that concert it was decided that there would be no dancing, the decision suited the concept well.  We sold out on both nights of the concert, even though I didn't get to dance, haha.

Now just a year after that concert I am planning my next one and this time - having done the highly melancholic in the first - I can now safely depart from the sedated and bring out the bold, and the dance...hence:

Showgirl concert, March 2017.

I am challenging myself to overcome the stiff upper back, bowlegged, and everything else that have made me look less than good on the dance floor - to open and close the show next year with a performance that I will be proud of.  It's about a year from now, the game is on.   The work will be colossal, the pain unbearable (but good thing I like pain) and the hours plenty.  I am grateful to have my other old friend on board, Nell, who is fearless in the workplace.  Thank you for taking this up with me.  Let's dance.

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