04:28:21 pm on
Friday 12 Jul 2024

Dancing Writer
Jennifer Flaten

I accompanied my daughter to our local civic theatre. Now, before you accuse me of going all “stage mom,” it was her idea. Now don’t go thinking she did it because she wanted to spend time with me. No, I was simply along for my waiver signing abilities. A handmaiden if you will, not seen nor heard, until it was time to sign something.

I sat dutifully quiet, hoping not to be noticed.

After snagging a snack, “Really mom, really,” I dutifully sat quietly through the presentation. The director was perky and uplifting, he explained the production connects mentors and performers, with disabilities, and, together, they would put on a show.

At the end of the presentation the director announced that we, that would be the royal we, would learn a song and dance routine. The director felt this would give us an idea of what it would be like at rehearsals.

At this point, I figured the last thing my almost fifteen-year-old daughter wanted to do was dance with her mother. Besides, two of my daughter’s classmates available; there was no doubt she’d be dancing with one of them.

Once I established she had a partner, I made a break for the exit. Unfortunately, another theatre member saw me and exclaimed loudly that she would be my partner.

I tried to demure, giving it my best aw-shuks.

My daughter caught sight of my face and started laughing. I tried to demure, but the woman all but dragged me to the front of the room where I resignedly joined the chorus line.

Let me be clear, there is a reason I stick to the written word. I am not a dancer, nor did I ever want to be one. While I did spend a fair amount of time watching MTV as a kid, I never once danced along with Paula Abdul.

For God’s sake, I am from Wisconsin and I can’t even do polka. I am probably the only bride in the entire world who didn’t do a bridal dance. I don’t dance; don’t ask me.

Yet, there I was front and center of the chorus line. To make matters worse, the song was Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’; wait I think I’ve seen this episode of ‘Glee,’ geeky girl is transformed by song, or “The Sopranos.” Oh wait. That’s not right. Mine is more like wallflower overcome by anxiety faints and causes other dancer to trip and break leg.

I decided my best defence, was a good offence; I played along

I decided my best defence was to play along and dance myself right out of the building. It would have worked too if my dance partner didn’t harbour a secret desire to be Bob Fosse. As I slyly attempted to twirl out the door, she grabbed my hand and refused to let go. So, I danced.

Throughout the dance moves, she kept barking directions at me step, step, slide, glide, shuffle, which didn’t help, I don’t know what a “jazz square” is and no amount of shouting “cross, slide” will help.

Doggedly my partner kept telling me what to do next. No, really I don’t want to wiggle my hips! Trust me; you don’t want me to wiggle my hips either. My graceful daughter twirled by me several times as I struggled to keep up. This was a production for children, disabled children, who are apparently much better dancers than I will ever be.

The director congratulated us.

Finally, we did a complete run through of the song. The director congratulated us; we all heaved a big sigh and then a groan as he announced, “let’s do it one more time from the top.” Another mother in the group grabbed her children’s hands and sprinted towards the door. Ah, what a lucky bastard is that child.

It was one more from the top and, finally, I can step-ball-change my way to the door. Next time I’m waiting in the car.











Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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