Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Should Be Dancin'. Yeah.

The Bee Gees have a song that gets my rump moving every time I hear it.  In a falsetto voice, Barry Gibb wonders what I'm doing on my back, and tells me that I should be dancin'. Yeah. Dancin'. Yeah.

And Barry's usually right. I should be dancing.

And most of the time, I am. I'm not opposed to breaking out in a little dance move as I'm standing outside of my classroom door at 8:14 in the morning, waiting for the bell to ring and the students to flood into the hallway. I've been known to allow my feet to cha-cha while eyeing the produce or my shoulders to shimmy while perusing the dairy. Yesterday, I began a little spontaneous tap dance while my assistant principal was trying to have a word with me. A kind word. But not necessarily a tap dancing word.

I like to get my dance on.

I know that dance floors inspire fear in some.  I imagine some people view those parquet sections of flooring no different than, say, a large space filled with rows and rows of dentist chairs and drills. Please, God, no! Don't make me go out there! That's never been me.

I come from a long line of Hengens. We think we're stage performers, when really that was never our calling. We're secretly singers, dancers, and comedians, hiding behind the facade of teachers, nurses, and, that I think of it, most of us are teachers. Which is kind of like being a stage performer. And comedian. And, despite the educational value of it, I throw a bit of singing and dancing in there, too. My dad, also a Hengen, doesn't much care for getting his dancing and singing groove on. Which is probably a blessing, seeing as a singing, dancing, funny guy makes for an odd therapy session. My dad's a therapist.

Back to the dance floor. Here is a place for improvisation to come alive! My sister and I have ironed and folded imaginary laundry on the dance floor. We've hit home runs and run the bases. We've played volleyball and golf. Sure, it gets a little tricky, what with the concerned looks of other dancers, but we don't let it get to us.

I've slow danced cheek to cheek with an elderly man after a Sinatra concert. I've wrapped my shawl around a church parishioner and wound myself closer, only to fling myself back into the crowd. I've been picked up by the waist, "I've Had the Time of My Life"-style and flown in a circle, arms out, dress tucked in like a diaper. I've been 1950s jettisoned through the open legs of a dance partner, and pulled back up, much to the detriment of my dry-cleaning bill. I've hand-held with a chain of dancers and hava nagila-ed myself in a dizzying, snaking, fast-paced motion around, on and off the dance floor. I've danced with my father, my eyes closed, remembering when I'd stand on his feet. No leading was necessary. I've Time Warped, Electric Slid, Bunny Hopped, Alley Catted, Cha-Cha Slid, Twisted, Shouted, Stayed Alive, and Survived, Gloria Gaynor-style.

At home, without the predictable song line-up provided by deejays, I don't have to succumb to the "OH MY GOD! You HAVE to dance to this one!" as "We are Family" begins playing.  I can spin my own tunes. At home, I am the fourth Beastie Boy. I am Prince's backup singer. I am a Foo Fighter. And my dancing is not limited to a square underneath multiple sets of feet. I am swept from one room to another, sometimes up on the couch and back off again. I can pivot in the kitchen and roll my shoulders in the hallway. I can bust out an old-school move in the living room and fall back on the bed in my bedroom.

My whole self seems driven to move. To dance. To be alive.

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