From the time I was little, I’ve wanted to perform. Sing or dance, it doesn’t matter. The problem is that I have been blessed with zero talent of any kind. I am completely tone deaf. When I was in high school, chorus was mandatory and every year, the Music department would stage a stripped-down version of a Broadway musical. All the big names–Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, South Pacific and, most memorably for me, My Fair Lady. Somehow, I made it into the background chorus for the ‘Ascot Gavotte’ number. We were busy rehearsing and the musical director was not happy with what she was hearing. No, not at all.
So, she stood among us as we sang and pinpointed the problem to…it should come as no surprise…me! Not only was I off, I was throwing everyone around me off. Not wanting to crush my soul entirely and rather than kicking me out of the chorus completely, she pulled me aside and asked that I move my lips, but let no sound escape. I willingly complied because even with that restriction, I’d still be listed in the program, still get a costume and still be on the stage.
My poor, long-suffering college roommate had to bear with my awful singing for four lo-o-o-ng years. In my defense, at least it was Motown.
My family begs me not to sing around them. I love hanging out on the beach, plugged into my iPod, singing along with the music. Bear in mind, we’re outside. Then there’s a tap on my arm. ‘Mom! You’re singing!’ Accompanied by an eyeroll, of course.
So my singing these days is confined to those times when I’m in my car, windows rolled up tight, tooling down the freeway, singing along with the radio or my iPod, beating out the rhythm on my steering wheel. As if I’m the only one.
When I was a child, my mother agreed to ballet class, something for which I have even less aptitude than singing. I tried, though. Oh how I tried. I mastered all the positions, the barre work, did my turnouts. But there were physical limitations. Even for that young age, I was short. I was (to put it kindly) pudgy. I was hopelessly uncoordinated.
One day, we were doing warm up stretches and I fell off the stage (such is the nature of life in a small town). The teacher was not happy. Not. Happy. At. All. She called my mother and suggested she not waste any more of her money. Okay, so I was never going to dance for Balanchine or wow them at the Bolshoi. I just wanted to dance, not be the next Margot Fonteyn.
Fast forward to current day. I’m taking ballet class again. This time, in combination with yoga and Pilates. And this time, it’s for exercise and not to create a potential prima ballerina. The old terms still ring in my ears–relevé, élévation, turn-out, first position, second position, arabesque. I love doing arabesques most of all. I’m older now, so I can no longer twist myself into certain positions. Fifth is out of the question and third isn’t looking very good, either. I can no longer rotate from my hips the way I need to achieve the positions with the proper form.
But my posture is much improved. My arms are well-toned. My shoulders look incredible. My legs are strong and muscular. And I feel like I could take on the world.
You know that expression, ‘Dance as if no one is watching’? Honey, someone is always watching.