Three times this weekend I stood on a blue circle in Copley Square and danced for thirty minutes with 111 other Bostonians in Le Grand Continental. It was an incredible experience in dance and community. Like many other peak experiences, it uncovered unexpected life-lessons:
1. My best dancing is total stillness. Friday night, after torrential downpours, we took our places on the square. We were wet, our steps were splashy, but the energy of the dedicated crowd was infectious. Midway through the show the choreography includes a crossover that results in us lying on the pavement for the subsequent children’s number. My position was smack center; the youngsters gyrate within a foot of my head.
I realized my crossover destination was more than a puddle. It was a pool. The crowd gasped as we fell onto the granite. The water saturated my jeans. It wicked up my shirt through my chest. My socks, my wallet, my stomach, my iPhone, everything drifted in the chilly water. The children began stomping. Water splashed over my every pore.
On cue, we adults began to move; horizontal jitters in the water. Finally, I got up and continued to dance. That night, and at every performance thereafter, people came up and exclaimed at my complete stillness during drenching. No one commented on the 28 minutes when I moved – only the two minutes when I was a soggy corpse.
Dancing in the Water Friday Night
2. Even in celebration, some people cannot be happy. On Saturday, a beautiful spring night with crisp air and full moon, the troupe was enthused about performing, dry, before a capacity crowd. A few minutes before performance, the befeathered woman who was my leaning partner during the Ima section, pulled me aside and said, “Your article offended many in the Hispanic community.” I made a politically correct apology and scanned my memory to figure what I possibly wrote in The Boston Globe that could be offensive.
After an exhilarating show, I got home and reviewed the passage: “There’s a precocious 8-year-old boy, a group of giggly Hispanic girls, an immense black women who moves so smooth she appears weightless, several mother/daughter teams, a preponderance of middle-aged women who, like me, forget our gray hair and gravity’s sag when our feet flow, and a handful of elderly ladies whose frail bodies are long past flexible, but whose steps are firm.”
I feel sorry for any human whose defenses are so tight that the adverb ‘giggly’ causes offense.
3. Everything has a positive spin. By sunny Sunday afternoon, we were all in our groove. For the first half of the show I danced in a line facing the audience. I abandoned the theatrical pretense of the fourth wall. I laughed as I danced and smiled when the audience took my picture. An elderly woman in a wheelchair sat directly in front of me. I danced right up to her, spun around and winked upon my return. She had a great smile of her own. We both enjoyed our flirtation.
I ran into Betty at the after party – she’s the mother of another dancer. I told her how much I appreciated her enthusiasm and admired the bicycle gloves she wore, dressier than mine. Betty demonstrated how they helped her grip her big wheels. Then she said, “You’ve got a great ass, and since I spend so much time at this height,” she gestured to her permanent sitting state, “I am an expert on asses.”
I thanked her for the nicest compliment I’d received in some time and wondered how many other people could find a benefit in being wheelchair bound.
Me on Sunday afternoon (in black T-shirt) – sorry my butt shots.