Dance in one form or another has always been important to me. Growing up as I did in
That notwithstanding, I am grateful that I grew up with a heritage of dance. As I entered my teen years, dance became more important socially. Our teen dances (known colloquially as “belly rubs”) were markedly slower than the ethnic dances of our exuberant youth, so there were fewer casualties. In fact, dancing in my teens consisted mostly of slowly swaying back and forth to the song “Cherish” by the Association, trying not to move our feet so our partners’ arches would remain intact. I am speaking of us boys, of course. Girls apparently attended secret classes where they learned to dance to fast songs without touching. Where they found time to do this in their busy schedule of not dating me I’ll never know.
Since my teens, I have continued to be enthralled with dance. I have in fact developed my own dance that I perform once a year, called My Naked Birthday Dance. This dance requires a partner who is sleeping with me at the time. The partner sits on the bed sleepily rubbing her eyes on my birthday morning while I leap naked from the connubial bed and begin stomping my feet, flailing my arms and leaping about, all the while grunting and hooting to an obscure John Cage composition that only I seem able to remember. While purists insist that My Birthday Dance is more properly called “capering”, I remain firm in my assertion that it is indeed art. In the course of performing this dance, male anatomy being what it is, there are certain slapping noises that form a counterpoint to my apparently random but carefully choreographed jerkings and writhings. The whole thing is quite primitive and suggests certain paintings by Rousseau, as well as the mythopoetic work of Robert Bly. My partners, however, invariably find it alarming. More than one has called 911, much to my subsequent consternation when the cops arrive and I’m buck naked. I persist in performing this yearly rite, however, although the aforementioned partners have become fewer and farther between for what I am certain are unrelated reasons.
It’s not all about me, however. I also enjoy ballet very much. My oldest kid spent many of her waking hours from the time she was seven until she was in high school attending ballet school. She only stopped because she developed tendonitis and big boobs, both anathema to the post-Balanchine ballet legacy.
As a result of this influence, however, I became one of three straight men in
It is at this time that I fell madly in love with Martine van Hamel, who was then dancing with ABT. She performed the leading role in the ubiquitous “Giselle”, and though I have seen it danced many times, I have never seen it danced better. I still have a huge crush on her. Unfortunately, she still doesn’t return my calls, even though I stopped making them collect calls a couple years ago.
In closing part one of this two-part series, I want to dedicate this entry to Jill Johnston. Back in high school, when I was trying to find out what the hell was going on in the world while I was stuck in a small town in