Mama Can't Dance

This mama can't dance. In fact, until about five years ago, the sound of dance music, the prospect of a four-hour stint in a catering hall full of boozed-up, dressed-up and sprayed-down electric sliders, the hoky poky, the macarena, the chicken polka...would make me sweat. Then, my neighbor and friend Georgina introduced me to her husband Jim's "policy" (Jim's word) on dancing. "What's your policy, Jim?" she asked him one day while he studied the Yankees on the big screen. He didn't look up but said: "I'm against it."

"See how simple it is?" Georgina said to me.

Yes. It's that simple. Nobody has to dance. Simply, dance is not my thing. I can sit through the annual rendition of The Nutcracker, but that's about it.

Which is a clue to my ignorance about ballet today. The Nutcracker it ain't--not everywhere and all the time. Tonight, we took in a performance of The American Repertory Ballet at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, Connecticut, as guests of Wisdom House. It was a whole new scene for me. There weren't any poker-faced men spotting poker-faced jewelry box ballerinas leaning this way and that. There weren't any tutus creating the illusion that ballerinas have big butts. And no buns pulling back the eyebrows of the lady dancers so that their faces look like gigantic singular white knuckles.

For these ARB guys and gals out of Jersey, there was no pre-performance blood letting to leave them all pale and stiff. These artists were at home in their skin. Equally muscular and equally important to the stories they danced, this group of men and women translated music into movement with vitality, pleasure, and sexual candor. It was great.

The little old lady behind my daughter whispered to her friend, "They are suggestive dances, aren't they?" and had a great giggle. They thought it was kind of silly--and laughed outright--when one of the women dressed in a foam tutu that very much made her look like a ladybug came onstage and did not exactly dance like a little red bug. Call that the Sugar Plum Fairy moment of the evening. (There was a Fruit of the Loom moment, too, when the women came out wearing what looked like muscle shirts and briefs. Fact: everyone looks fat in briefs. Better to spill over a bikini than to take the deep six in granny pants.)

Perhaps next time I find myself in a catering hall and that old dreadful music starts thumping, I'll strip down to my T-shirt and undies and bust a move. Or maybe I'll find a safe and comfortable spot under an Exit sign and eat everyone else's Jordan almonds while they do the hokey poky, goose themselves through the macarena, and wiggle around like chickens on the one-way route to the chopping block. If it's an open bar, you never know.

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