Thursday, February 18, 2010


I had two choices when I first stepped onto the glimmering hardwood floor. I could be timid, unsure, and probably a bit intimidated, or I could stop thinking those thoughts and give it my all. I wanted to dance so much that I was sure I would not hold back. I knew life would be different, once I let myself do what I wanted. It took courage, but I was determined to do something different with my life, to take a risk.

It was the first time that I took dance classes, the ones usually reserved for those of preschool age until their early twenties. That didn’t stop me. I was the only student over 50, actually probably the only one over the age of 30. The instructor/owner of the studio was only 18, but she was gracious and willing to teach me.

We started out with jazz and ballet—ballet being something I did not particularly think would be what I wanted, but she insisted that it was a good foundation. So we began. She was a professional in every aspect and expected the best from me. She pushed me, made me kick higher, made me do everything better, the result being that she knew I would give her what she asked from me.


I soon discovered that two classes a week were not enough, but I consoled myself since there was to be a dance concert in June. I could manage. Ballet lasted about a month, and then I said no more, although at times I still find myself standing in first position. I wanted something fast. A good rhythm, or hip-hop, maybe, and that wasn’t ballet, but it was jazz.

I discovered that dancing is a form of expressing me, of letting go all that I had been keeping hidden inside me. Dancing was something that I had always enjoyed, although as a child I was exposed to it only briefly, through ballroom dancing lessons at school, and square dancing in my hometown. But, it wasn’t until I took jazz classes that I realized just how much dancing was a major part of who I am.

The following June we readied ourselves for the concert. I remember walking out on stage for the first time, looking at the crowd of over 500 people (standing room only), thinking, “This must be heaven.” I loved dancing on stage more than life itself.

The following year, my instructor asked me if I would do a solo plus the class performance. Of course, I said yes rather enthusiastically, and did my solo to “Hello Dolly.”

Both years, after the last of three performances of the concert, it was such a let down, and maybe even a little depression crept in. Classes took a two-month break, but it was too long for me.


I didn’t return for the third year. Many alibis kept me separated from what I loved. Things like not enough money for classes, not enough time for classes, not enough money to buy costumes for the June concerts. I’m sure I thought of more, and that was enough to stop me.

But, the reality was that doing what I loved, what I wanted to do, was a pleasure that I felt I did not deserve, so I couldn’t go back. I had been told many years ago that you can’t make any money in the artistic fields. I wasn’t in it for the money, but I was doing what I wanted, which I knew was forbidden.


Being told I cannot do what I want has only made me more determined to succeed. With the help of my instructor, I knew I could go beyond all expectations. I may not have gotten the support I needed from my parents, but support now comes to me from a different source, from my instructors. They are the ones that tell me how good I am, in front the class. I allow them to tell me how good I am and I allow myself to accept the praise graciously.

Even though I am not currently at a studio, being over the age of 50 has its advantages. I can take line dance classes for a minimal fee and as many as six classes a week. They are offered at the various senior recreational centers and I attend as often as I can. The line dances are the usual country western, but also a ballroom line dancing class, consisting of different styles such as cha-cha, salsa, swing, fox trot and any combination. Line dancing eliminates the need for a partner. The instructors give us enough so that we feel it, we sweat, our heartbeats race.

The instructors in these classes have also commented on how good I am, and with this praise I trust in how good I am, and I push to do even better. My greatest achievement is that I dance in step with the instructors.

I used to be ashamed of being better than others, especially those who are much older than I am, but I’ve since learned that there is nothing wrong with showing my good qualities, with being better than I ever thought I could be.

  • What have you done that took you out of your comfort zone? How did it make you feel?
  • Did you have an instructor, a mentor, or a friend push you to your limits and beyond?
  • If not, think of something you’ve always wanted to do, but never felt you could.
  • What steps can you take toward accomplishing that goal?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your insights and thoughtful posts, JoAnna!