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Post Traumatic Dance Disorder

June 8, 2012

A friend’s son is getting married next month which brings to mind dancing and not in a good way; when I speak about myself and dancing know that it is code for my husband.  For example, “I” have been robot-dancing since the 70’s. “I” was not ahead of my time.

“I” was ahead of robots.

 “I” am at ease on the dance floor much like Steve Carroll in the movie Date Night. “I” am a great dance partner (again, ref: Date Night: the pole-dancing scene where Tina Fey is gripping the pole and Steve has hoisted her horizontally to rotate her around the pole at waist level much like cattle plod around a millstone grinding wheat.)

And not to belabor the point but “I” once danced over the extension cords and unplugged a four-piece rockband at a Naval Academy ring dance.

I (and now I mean me) have PTDD—post traumatic dance disorder. I come by it traumatically. In high school I auditioned for the lead role in South Pacific—the role of the perky Navy nurse,  Nellie Forbush. I was an anxious sophomore and was both happy and scared to death to be repeatedly called back to read for the part again. Finally, the director said it was between me and a petite dynamo senior, Joanne Robinson. 

Joanne had fair skin and dark silky hair and looked like she could have been the little plastic doll on top of a wedding cake.  She was also an experienced actress and an awesome competitor.  By comparison I had all the monstrousness of sophomore-dom. Far from being confident, I was astonished every time I opened my mouth on stage and anything came out at all.  That what came out was an actual melody and in the right key made me want to stop and share my utter amazement with the audience like I might have had, I don’t know, a spaceship landed stage right. 

So. Joanne  sang Bali Ha’i. I sang Bali Ha’i. She sang Some Enchanted Evening, I sang Some Enchanted Evening. In the darkened auditorium the director and assistant director put their heads together. Which girl, which one?  Joanne and I were standing side by side on stage at that point smiling into the footlights.  “Okay,” Mrs. James finally said. “Laura, we want you to sing it again, and this time, could you maybe do a little dance?”

Where was that space ship? The orchestra started up with no time to prepare, no time to even think.  I was a cheerleader. I’m pretty sure the onlookers seated in the auditorium that afternoon were treated to a mind- blowing, first-of-its-kind, hybrid cheer-dance. Something like “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair” to the beat of: “We’re gonna go, we’re gonna fight, we’re gonna win this game tonight, Eagles!”  They probably have PTDD too.

Write about something someone is really good at in private that causes them to freeze in public. Speaking in front of groups? Cooking? Playing an instrument? Saying grace? Controlling kids? Displaying affection?  Go to the place where the disconnect happens. Write from there.


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