Don’t you love those old 1930s movies where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are in some fabulous Art Deco nightclub, Ginger wearing some incredible satiny, feathery dress, the band strikes up, and…..magic! Fred and Ginger spend the next 15 minutes of the movie twinkle toe-ing all over the set without one false move.
Yes, secretly I yearn to dance like that (or maybe I just want the feathery dress), but alas, I have two left feet. However, I have vowed that this is going to be The Year Of The Dance. I have read various places that dance is good for people with Parkinson’s — it certainly requires much brain-body coordination and might actually generate some exercise too.
So far, the results of the experiment are, um, mixed. I take Zumba classes at my gym (“take” is a little strong, “occasionally visit” is more like it) and it is sheer torture. There is the inevitable perky, svelte instructor, and I have the feeling everyone else attended the secret class where they actually teach you the steps. I spend a lot of time staring at the instructor’s feet, hoping to make sense of what she’s doing, but of course by the time I pick up a pattern, she has moved on. Everyone else comes out of the class with a healthy sweat, but I, moving like the Bride of Frankenstein, produce nary a huffy-puffy.
So — on to other dance opportunities. I took a 6-week course on swing dancing, and it was (gasp…) fun — I have to admit I enjoyed myself. The instructors were great and they formatted the class so you didn’t need to attend with a partner. (My husband is even more dance-o-phobic than I am.) Unfortunately, the classes were way at the other end of Seattle, in an area with no parking. However, I have identified a swing dance club closer to home that I will be checking out.
As it happens, the neighboring town was holding a ballroom dance for Valentine’s Day and offered dance lessons in advance of the Big Event. I went to a couple of these, although it was a bit awkward since everyone else had a partner except me. (See “dance-o-phobic husband” above.) The dance itself was lovely but again a bit of a challenge without a partner. I was able to get in a few dances, but the steps I had learned in my classes went totally flying out of my brain.
My latest experiment are dance classes specifically put on for the Parkinson’s community (and other folks with movement disorders) by Northwest Parkinson Foundation (and other agencies). The classes are taught by professional dancers (real leotards, ballet steps and everything!) and even feature live accompaniment. OK, I admit I thought this would be easy….and it is….kind of. I just have gone to one session, but I noticed I was starting to “lose my place” in the middle of a dance pattern. I’ve also noticed this is starting to happen when I’m singing with my chorus too. It’s not a big deal, but I just have to concentrate more. I’ll never look as graceful as the professionals (and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fit in Ginger’s feathery dress) but I’m going to continue to seek out dance opportunities and see what happens.
A YouTube extra! See Fred Astaire declare to Ginger: “I won’t dance!”