Since I was 4 years old I’ve been dancing. First ballet and tap. I remember my first tap routine, at least the first part. The music was “Pretty Baby”, a Ragtime song written by Tony Jackson in 1912. It wasn’t until this very moment that I realized that Mrs. Uber probably had us dance to that because we were basically babies. I bet we were cute as hell.
I eventually went to NYC to study, then to The Hartford Ballet. I didn’t get very far. It’s a rarified world, professional dance.
But I took a shot. I knew my chances were slim since I had come from a small country town and Mrs. Uber was not a professional. I had no real training, just a passion. When I moved to the City I worked as hard as I could. I got farther than anyone thought I would.
Then I had to stop because I needed to earn money to live.
Some would say I failed. I did dance on stage a bit. I got to perform and feel that oneness when you get lost in the dance. That is priceless. But I never got in a company, never made a career.
But my attempt, the fact that I went for it, changed me forever. I don’t regret trying. I don’t have the regret of not trying, of not knowing how I would have done. That’s not nothing.
And I still love to dance. I still choreograph in my living room. When I’m listening to live music, or playing, it is impossible for me to be still. I hate filming live music because I can’t move when I do. Movement is so basic. Movement to music, with music, in the music, is like breathing to me. I went for it.
Jackson Browne wrote:
“Just do the steps that you’ve been shown,
by everyone you’ve ever know,
until the dance becomes your very own,
no matter how close to yours another’s steps have grown,
in the end there is one dance you’ll do alone. (For a Dancer, 1974)
I think the dance is always our own, even when others have shown us the steps. Mrs. Uber probably did her best to get us to do those steps, but I know I just did my own dance. “Everybody loves a baby that’s why I’m in love with you, (Shuffle one, shuffle two, shuffle three, step step) Pretty baby, Pretty baby.
Don’t ever pass up a chance to go for a dream. The chance may never come again. “In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone.” Make sure it is yours.