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  • Nicole (Johnson) Williams

25. Closer to 40 than 20 these days...

I went to take class the other day at Broadway Dance Center. Today... I can't walk.

It's not because the class was particularly hard. But from step one, all signs pointed to an uncomfortable morning after.

The traffic driving into the city from Philly was monstrous. What the GPS reported the night before as an hour and a half drive turned into a three hour commute, leaving me 20 minutes short of a full warm up. As I rushed in and found an awkward little corner of the room, the class was already on deep lunges and stretches, which my body was not prepared for. Then a core workout and we're across the floor with some improv (fav).

As I watched the other dancers go across the floor, I began to realize the very studio-esque feel of their movement choices. They all looked so young. I assumed I would be on the older side of the crowd, but most of these dancers must have still been in high school (middle school for some). It was like dancing in the Senior Room of a popular dance convention.

The instructor spoke with fluid and welcoming language, encouraging dancers to be present and intentional, calling folks out/in for gazing out into the hallway as he was talking or giving class etiquette tips about covering one's mouth while yawning. Then we started the combo... Billie Eilish. The rest was history.

The combo was fun and not too hard to learn. We learned in chunks, presented in groups, then class was over. At the end of the class, I began gathering my things and noticed a line of dancers beginning to form to thank the instructor for class and receive a hug and affirmation of a job well-done in return. Not wanting to wait in line for this contrived and traditional ritual, but also not wanting to be the bitch who took class and dipped, I waited for the line to die down before thanking the instructor for class and leaving the room. (It made me think of how strange I feel when my students curtsey to me after class or engage in some other ritual that signifies respect and gratitude. That never feels good to me as an instructor. What does feel good, however, is having a genuine connection with the dancers with whom I've just shared the experience with. Sometimes that comes with an extra dose of gratitude; sometimes it doesn't. But when it doesn't, the experience still isn't cheapened.)

I remember the days when I could jump into a class with little to no preparation of my body and mind. I've made a terrible practice of jumping into things without proper preparation my whole life up until now, thinking primarily about what might please someone else, often resulting in my own deep and dissatisfying displeasure. But today, I have a different relationship to pleasure.

Today, my body tells a very different story.

In the last post, I wrote about my love affair with Improv. The all-day foreplay that could start days before I even step into the studio for any full-body exploration. Taking as long as necessary to listen to what my body has to say..

Showing her interest.

Giving her something to be inspired by.

Preparing her, gently; intuitively; thoroughly.

Giving her time to warm up physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Taking as much time as she needs/wants.

Listening intently to what she has to say.

And following her lead every step of the way until she is pleased

Not the combo from class, but an improv exploration that was pleasing to me nonetheless :)

P.S. - I wasn't sore at all after this, lol

Improv: 12/21/22

Song: Call it Off (Yana Perrault)

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