I’m always up for something crazy. When my friend Kellie asked me to join her in tap dancing lessons, I decided to play Cinderella. She had bought a pair of tap shoes that were too small for her.
‘If your shoes fit me, I’ll come,’ I said.
They fitted perfectly.
I went along to the first lesson trying to work out my left from right, and when I did, the others were already five steps ahead. I did my best attempting to imitate the shuffle, scuff and ball-change, often on the wrong foot, in the wrong tempo and in the wrong direction. Still, it was fun. At least until I attempted a brush and step on the highly polished wooden floor. I fell backwards, landing on my rear end before the force of acceleration did the rest. My head hit the floor with a thump. While everyone around me ran to my aid, I was on the floor in fits of laughter – my usual reaction to embarrassment and pain. The following week, I bought rubber grips which I fitted behind the alloy taps. Much better!
As each week went past, I remembered more of the steps. While I still need to watch the teacher like a hawk, I am getting better. At least I understand the instructions now, even if I can’t yet follow them with much precision. But I am learning, and the electrical impulses in my brain are venturing into regions they haven’t explored in decades. As a teacher, it is good to be reminded of the cognitive overload students can experience when presented with considerable amounts of new information.
Our dance instructor, Jaz, is a petite powerhouse who teaches ballet, tap, Jazz and for all I know, could just as easily teach breakdancing. She segues from one dance style to another without missing a beat and her mission is to ensure that her classes are accessible to all students. Is it any wonder that she won the prestigious award of Dance Australia’s Regional Hero?
‘I can find a work around for almost anything,’ is her motto. By this she means that she can modify dance steps so that everyone can participate. She is passionate about dance, teaching and inclusion and never turns anyone away.
Will I ever become really good at tap dancing? I doubt it. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Every Tuesday night, I head up to the local hall, spend time with my friend, get some exercise and improve my balance. I learn a few dance routines which I will probably never ‘perform’ and as a bonus, I get to have the best belly laughs when my feet take off from under me.