Family Life

When All Else Fails, Just Shimmy

When it comes to the benefits of dance, we’re all well aware of the many pros to trying the sport. If you’re like me and attended weekly dance classes growing up, you were probably in the best shape of your life. You were active, ridiculously flexible, and had muscles you didn’t know existed.

If you’re also like me, you may find that you don’t quite move like you used to, but we won’t focus on that.
While there are an endless number of physical benefits of dance, there are just as many mental benefits. It really is a sport that builds well-rounded individuals.

However, the main lesson I took away from dance was not that I have zero rhythm (my dance teachers were incredible coaches and knew how to make us all look great) or that working together creates a cohesive and beautiful performance. Instead, the lesson that really stuck out to me was to just keep shimmying. This lesson was not one that was discussed in our weekly dance class, oh no. This is one I quickly learned during the live, recorded performance at the end-of-the-year recital.

The fact that this experience is so embedded in my brain is either due to how traumatic I thought it was at the time or simply how it taught me that when life throws you a curveball, you find a way to still knock it out of the park. So, what happened, you might be wondering?

At five years old (yes, that is how implanted it is), my tap routine was to Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman.” There were feathers, sequins, huge pink bows on our tap shoes, and all the fringe one could hope for when doing turns. At the end of our routine, we were told the music would transition to a pre-recorded taping of our names, and when we heard our names, we would do one last move and strut our stuff off the stage. So, being in the right order on stage was key.

My experience with the recording was doomed from the start. When lining up for the dance, we were put in order by two instructors who weren’t familiar with our class, and when you have that situation coupled with two people with the same name in the class, you can see how I got a little confused.

However, despite not being where I should have been, the dance went incredibly well, and I thought I was golden. Well, all was well until the recording started. I quickly realized that being in “my” spot was important. The names were called and the girls left the stage one after the other in a perfect row…and then it skipped over me (wrong spot problems).

So, what does a five year old do when she’s all alone on one side of the stage? Shimmy. Just shimmy until you hear your name and it’ll look like it was planned all along.

A good bit of shimmying later (I mean, a good bit), I finally heard my name and did my best Gisele Bündchen off the stage and was met with “great job!” and all the support one could hope for after a shimmying solo. The best part is this was the performance that was recorded for the VHS tape we all received. While we cannot watch it anymore, I vividly remember the empty spot of where I should have been when the camera panned to me. Sorry, camera, I was shimmying on the other side of the stage.

While it was a scary experience for a five year old, looking back, I’m pretty impressed with myself for my quick thinking. Being a part of the arts teaches us a lot about ourselves and how we learn to handle situations. I didn’t realize just how much, though, until I looked back on my own dance experience. I still have the costume and everytime I see it, I think about this dance misstep, but I also remember that when life gets hard, just shimmy it out, and eventually, it will work out in the end. 

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