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I have always been a dance groupie!

There was something about watching a human surrender to music with their entire being that captivated me since I was a child. I loved all types. It didn’t matter to me. Dance lessons were not in the family budget so television was my only escape into that world. Thank God for the Ed Sullivan Show! Where else could I see world-renowned ballet duets, tap, Jazz and Broadway musical choreography?

The GREAT Chita Rivera!!!

Mom and dad, like many of their time, danced beautifully together. They tried to teach me but I never quite mastered it. Besides, the 70s were upon us and nobody needed dance steps then. My freewheeling Woodstock sway got me through a decade without a hitch. And no, I NEVER discoed.

My theatre training made sure I didn’t bump into furniture but my dancing days dwindled. I soon slipped into the back row of my movement classes and watched real dancers effortlessly extend their legs up to their cheek! Nuts. That would never be me. I was definitely more comfortable being earthbound.

When I began working with children I wanted to encourage their self-expression. I wanted their stories to come alive in their whole bodies abstracting the concepts and painting worlds physically. I wanted to see what THEIR authentic movement was. I would have loved that chance when I was growing up. So I experimented until I found a way to celebrate the intuitive creator.

Recently I watched a young student of mine. Her arm reached toward the heavens as she held her fragile peace doves that cascaded from a small piece of doweling. She flowed gracefully through the space completely unaware of my gaze. Wrapped up in the beauty of sound and imagination she dissolved into her own world. My heart leapt! I reached for my camera hoping to share a glimpse of what I had witnessed. Take a look.

It was engagement in its purest form. No dance steps no imposed form just pure joy of expression. Oh to have such freedom!

The closest I got to “dance” professionally was using ritualized gesture in my performances. It felt like dance as my hands became this stylized language that must have lurked somewhere in my psyche. Watching a sea of audience members echo the movement felt poetic, otherworldly to me. Soul driven desire to make the story richer moved me to find the music in my words. Still, I wasn’t actually dancing....

For over thirty years my husband has been begging me to take dance lessons with him. Every time we tried to find a time or date we would be instantly derailed with work responsibilities, tiredness from the day’s grind or pulled to attend to more important things. I was secretly afraid that learning the steps would squelch the fun of it. I was worried that it would be rigid and formal. But last night something magical happened.

Rules. I mean, I just had to include this.

We took our first dance lesson! Yup! I thought at least we would have each other to cling to but no such luck. We were instantly flung into the arms of strangers! NO! Apologetic with each new encounter Jim and I waved at each other from afar and shrugged. When in Rome....

One hour later I was sweaty and smiling. Returning to the love of my life we joined in the free dance that followed forgetting all our moves and falling into each other’s weary arms with giddy laughter! What a blast! We promised our new friends (all at least 35 years younger than us) that we would return. I said that perhaps they all deserved a sticker for putting up with us.

My dance partner for life.

Suffice to say I slept well that night and awoke with many aches and pains but the smile remained. I had danced! No pressure, tons of joy and laughter AND I actually let someone else LEAD!!! Hahahahaha!!!

This coming week I will return to work with a lighter step. I will rework my movement piece finding more pockets for exploration and get my camera ready to capture the miraculous world of dance the Lana way. I gotta remind myself that structure is an invitation to go further, feel the music, put your heart into it, don’t look at your feet, trust, follow and let go! Oh yeah!

I am already looking at my wardrobe. Gotta find me a swirly dress so I can look like a real Lindy Hopper!!! Second Hand Stores here I come!

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!"

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