Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Are You Doing in Your Neighbor's Mitten?

While in search of cheap pumpkins yesterday to carve for my birthday party, my trek brought me to the parking lot of Larkin Dance Studio - where I spent most of nine years of my life previous to graduating high school. Having managed to graduate on completely good terms with the Larkin family, I try to stick my head in once in a while and say hi. Yesterday I found myself having both time and occasion to do so.

So I popped in and hung out in the studio for a while, talking to Michele (who happens to be both one of the most respected and most feared names in the Twin Cities... and national... dance scene) and watching rehearsal. She runs a tight ship, and she's intimidating sometimes, but she's dang good at what she does. As I'm watching class, she asks me, "Katie, doesn't this just make you want to get up and dance?" I gave a very enthusiastic "yes" in response.

And it's true. I miss dancing. Jon once asked me what the obsession was. Why would I injure myself (I've been in physical therapy for about ten years now), put up with the emotional strain (I came home from rehearsal in tears many, many times), and put everything else on hold (I didn't even go to youth group in high school), for something like dancing? Why was that so important to me?

Dance is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is physical: I am aware of every part of my body, sensitive to its movements, using every muscle, and intensely in control. It is mental: remembering routines, correcting mistakes, being aware of space around you, and improvising when things go wrong. It is emotional: I can become anyone, I can bring out my deepest heart or take on someone else's, and it draws on more than words to communicate a feeling. It is artistic: music, movement, color, shape, form, line, texture, balance, contrast, and every element or principle in visual art comes into dancing. It is relational: not only to the other dancers around you, but there is a connection that happens between performer and audience, too. And most importantly, it is spiritual: because it involves every other aspect of life, I literally do not have a more complete form of worship. I can pour all of my being into dancing, and it is giving everything I have to a beautiful God.

That is why I dance.

So if you've never before understood my obsession, or why I miss it so much, I hope I've given you at least a brief glimpse. I hope you can also understand why my 'yes' to Michele's question was so enthusiastic. Most things make me want to dance. People laugh at me for moving around while I sing, but for as much as I love singing, being in that worshipful a mood just makes me want to dance!

Well, in response to my enthusiastic yes, Michele asked me why I've never come to take class since graduating. Honestly, I can't afford it, and my time is mostly committed to the church anyway. Michele thought for about half a second, and then told me to come Tuesday nights for a jazz class.

So I'm going to dance again!

I'm much older, fatter, and ridiculously out of shape than I was the last time I did any real dancing, but I'm excited. This is a huge part of me that's been missing for the last four years, and I'm about to reclaim it. I'm excited!

*If you're wondering about the title, there's a back story. Being in the dance world, the BeeGees song "You Should Be Dancing" is pretty commonly heard at competitions and recitals. My mom always thought she heard the line "what are you doing in your neighbor's mitten?" The response, of course, was "aaah, you should be dancin!" We always called it 'the neighbor's mitten' song. I finally looked up the real lyrics: "what are you doing on your back?" You know... back, neighbor's mitten... same difference. I'm gonna be dancing, yeah!



I've always been jealous of the ability others have to dance. I am so uncoordinated and off balance there's not a chance in the world I could ever be a good dancer. But dancing is so amazingly beautiful to watch. I'm very excited for you!

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