I started taking ballet and tap when I was 3.
Back then, we were allowed to wear only black or pink leotards and pink tights. As little girls, we would line up at the barre and practice our pli?s or relev?s, while our teacher, Mrs. Collins, would walk around and adjust our arms.
Then we’d change into our tap shoes and line up back at the barre. I can still hear a very succinct, “Shuffle, ball, step. Shuffle, ball, step,” in my mind, as she called out the commands over and over.
One year, all but two of us dropped out of our recital. I vividly remember dancing on the huge stage at the Orpheum Theater with Heidi (her real name), the only one who hung in there with me.
I don’t remember the dance per se, but I do remember her dressing up as a monkey in a bellhop uniform, and I, in my little pink satin elephant tutu and my beautiful black patent tap shoes, which my mom spray painted silver for the show.
I also remember the globe dressing room lights along the sides of the mirror, just like in the movies. We even got to wear make-up – a dream come true for a 5-year old girly-girl. It all seemed so glamorous.
But I retired from dancing after that, when Saturday mornings seemed better spent watching cartoons or at sleepovers.
I started dancing again when I was in high school. I spent my junior and senior years on the dance team. And needless to say, the style of dance was considerably different. That was the early 90′s when hip-hop was really big, and we were doing moves like the “Roger Rabbit” and the “Running Man” to Salt ‘n Pepa.
For the second time, I hung up my shoes and never pursued dance again.
Were there times, though, when I longed to be a “Fly Girl” on the variety show, “In Living Color?” Possibly. Were there times when I would be the first (and last) person on the dance floor at a wedding? Sure. Am I secretly drawn to reality shows like, “So You Think You Can Dance?” Of course!
But until a friend from my Fit Minded Book Club asked me to take dance lessons with her, I never even considered organized dancing again.
However, here I am, about eight or nine weeks into a season of tap, jazz and hip-hop classes. It’s just like I remember it, minus the leotards and pink tights (thank God!). Our attention spans and propensity to goof around are definitely still at the same 4-year-old level.
My dance teacher is tall and thin with long straight hair. The kind of hair you can easily imagine pulled back into a ballerina’s bun. And she has a natural grace and performer’s sparkle about her. But she also has patience and a great sense of humor – because you would have to when you teach a class full of women, all of who are 35 or older, and who haven’t been in a dance class in at least 25 years.
To top it off, we have already started learning our routines for the spring recital. I’m not sure where it is actually held, but I hope they have those same globe lights on the mirrors, and that I get to paint my tap shoes some cool shade of different!
I guess you really never are too old to do the things you love. Maybe there’s hope for this “Fly Girl” yet.
Amy Grace is married with two sons. She is a stay-at-home mom. Read her Fridays on momaha.com.