I returned to the Deforce Dance Center for another class this week, only I decided to forgo chasing coolness with hip-hop and headed to a jazz class instead. If ballet and modern dance were to find some common ground, it would be in jazz. Think of dancing you see on Broadway, or pretty much any competitive dance team, and you’ve found yourself enjoying jazz dance. In adult jazz classes, there’s an emphasis on the sexy, which, like cool, is also not one of my fortes. Now, if there was a dance that emphasized klutzy, I’d be golden…
Anyway, jazz, despite my inability to bring sexy back, is much more natural for my body. Plus, the class was an hour and a half long, so there was thirty minutes devoted to stretching and core strength. Now I rock at core – maybe not rock, but thanks to Extreme Boot Camp, I’m no push-up or sit-up slouch. However, flexibility is a parakeet of a different color. See, to be flexible, you actually have to stretch at some point in your life. I am pretty sure I haven’t done more than touch my toes since I was 15 – but back then I could do the splits without even meaning to. I’m of a different mold now.
Now, when I sit on the floor and stretch my legs out to either side (so I’m making a Flying V shape), instead of being able to lean my stomach onto the ground, I can sort of pathetically just bare reach my arms out to touch the ground. When I lift my leg to kick, it no longer reaches into the stratosphere, but rather barely rises above knee level. And the splits? Ha.
Seriously. Ha. *
What I love about dance though, and what took me a long time to learn, is that it’s not about how high your leg goes or how bendy your torso is. As long as you are having fun and doing the moves (or attempting to the moves), you’ll be fine.
Post warming up, we did a series of across the floors, which built off of each other and increased in difficulty, and then spent some time on a short routine. And unlike last week, when I felt bear-pawed and anchor-heeled, this week I felt like a million sparkles. In fact, I felt like I was ready for Fame. This was the feeling I wanted – the sweaty but well worth the effort of hard-enough-to-not-be-too-hard work. There were moments as we practiced the steps and tried them out in small groups where I thought “damn, I’m by far the worst one in the class, but even I don’t look terrible doing this!”
Which is basically like winning a Vespa in my book.
Workout-wise, like most group activities, dance is what you make of it. If you put in effort and try, you can work up a laborious glow of sweat; conversely, if you simply namby-pamby around and giggle your way through it all, you’ll probably feel bored and vapid during the class.
If you’re going to give any sort of dance or aerobic activity that requires coordination a spin, let me throw down this advice: First of all, don’t take yourself too seriously. Secondly, if you’re not doing it exactly right, that is okay – try to find one part you can do well. I typically focus on the direction of the move, then what the feet are actually doing, then the arms, then anything else going on. As long as you move in the right direction, that is half the battle. And last, like the instructor said on Tuesday night: “It’d be great if you can get your arms in the right direction, but if not…I think everyone is going to live.”
It wasn’t a run, but it was something fun.