Dancin’ with the Girls


Oh, my gosh! I was super excited when I read about a Fosse Jazz Master Class that was being offered one Saturday right here in Birmingham! This was something that I had been dying to do forever. Seriously, like for the last 30 years. And now I had the opportunity. All I could think of was to register for it before it filled up. After all, I had found out about it late and it was just a one day, one-time event with a limited number of spaces available. I didn’t want to miss my chance!

For those of you not familiar with the Fosse style of jazz dance, it is a unique and specific jazz style from the late choreographer Bob Fosse. It is exacting and demanding on the body and mind. And in this class we were going to learn the exact choreography from the Broadway show “Pippin” taught by a dancer straight from the national tour. I could not wait.

I was not in a panic about the fact that I had not danced in the Fosse style of jazz in the last 30 years. After all, I had managed to bug my friend “Lola” to teach an adult jazz class for so long that she finally agreed to it just to shut me up. So, I have been taking a jazz class every Tuesday night for the last year. And, let’s not forget my twice weekly Zumba class! I felt that I could hold my own. What I was in a panic about was securing my spot in this class. Anybody who took jazz dance in the ’80s would know who Bob Fosse was, and I just knew that there would be a waiting list. I called the number to reserve my spot several times but no one answered so I left very anxious voice messages for someone to call me back. I found their Facebook page and left pleading posts for someone to add my name to the list. All the while, I was planning on showing up for the class that morning regardless.

As the day approached, it did cross my mind that the people who showed up might not be so much other dancers from the ’80s but current dancers in their 30s and 40s.Would I feel uncomfortable being the oldest one in the room? The thought began to make me nervous, and I began to have some reservations about going. Maybe the fact that no one returned my calls was a sign from the Universe, trying to tell me that this was not the class for me? I quickly disregarded that thought for the simple reason that the Universe led me to see the information about the class in the first place. And, of course, this had been on my bucket list for years, and now was the chance to check it off. I did, however, decide to coerce a friend into joining me. Naturally, Lola agreed, again just to shut me up. So, even though she is younger than me by the fewest of years, I wouldn’t be the only one in there over 40…

Finally, the day before the class, someone returned my call. The only question I had was if there was an audition to get in. Luckily there was not. I was in! Then, the morning arrived. I was up early. Lola came and picked me up. I was finally getting to learn some real Fosse jazz choreography! We parked and walked into the building. It was full of people of every age buzzing all around. I could feel the excitement in the air. When we went into the office to pay for the class I tried to tell myself that I was imagining things when I thought that the receptionist was acting a little strange and trying not to laugh at us. It was just my nervous energy. Finally, we walked into the dance studio. I immediately went in, sat down my dance bag, changed into my jazz shoes, organized myself, and got into “the zone.” Finally, the teacher called us all to come to the floor and line up in a single line with our toes touching the tape. All of the sudden, the room got quiet and we all did as we were instructed. Lola was to my right. But when I looked to my left, I didn’t see anyone…at first. Then I looked down about three feet, and that’s when I saw all the other dancers. They were all nine- and 10- year-olds. All of the other adults had been their parents, and they left the room as soon as we were called to the floor. I realized then that I should have recruited a younger friend. Needless to say, I immediately felt 135 lbs. overweight. But, being the great friend that she is, Lola reminded me that I should not compare myself to anyone who hasn’t yet gone through puberty.

In hindsight, I guess that might have been the perfect time to recognize my mistake, gracefully bow out of the class and leave it to the children. However, I have to be truthful and tell you that thought never entered my mind. After 30 years of waiting for this opportunity, I was finally getting a chance to take a Fosse Jazz Master Class, and I wasn’t about to let some nine-year-old kick that dream out from under me. I wasn’t going to be shamed into leaving, not even when they were afraid to look at us or to get too close.

All through the three-hour class I was trying to keep up. It went so fast, and I did begin to feel like maybe I wasn’t quite in shape for the Fosse style after all, although I must say some of those moves do look better when adults are doing them than children. It was as much of a mental workout as physical. If I had just been given a little more time to learn the moves, maybe another week, I could have nailed it, no doubt in my mind.

It was only after Lola threw out her back and had to sit out (so she swears) and left me the only student in my group over 10 years old dancing across the floor did I realize the absurdity of it all. And then, when all the parents showed back up to watch the end of class and I saw them looking at me instead of their own children, that’s when I just had to laugh. I also had to laugh through the pain I felt for the next four days in every joint in my body. And, I have laughed at this for the last three months. And, Lola and I will laugh about it forever. But, I got to check it off my bucket list. I hope you have a bucketful of dreams to go for this year and don’t let anyone keep you from going for them. Happy New Year!

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