“I’m Not a Ballerina” Club

I am not a ballerina, even though I have the perfect name for one. Girls typically start dance classes in grade school, but we were new Soviet immigrants living in the projects, and we saved the dancing for parties at Russian restaurants.

At one point, somewhere between age 6 and 13, I passive-aggressively mentioned to my mother how I never got dance lessons even though so many other girls did.

“So, what, you’re going to be a ballerina?” my mother retaliated. She wasn’t insulting my non-dancer body, particularly my legs, clones of hers, as much as she implied, “What’s the value of dance lessons if you don’t intend to be a professional dancer?”

Music has always found its way into my body and coursed through me, and dancing is how it comes out. I am an energetic yet fluid and sexy dancer; three parts Renee Russo in Thomas Crowne Affair, one part Elaine from Seinfeld.

My husband and I took a group dance lesson once but they didn’t let us stay together, and instead of learning to dance together, every five minutes, the instructor would ring a silver bell and next thing I knew, I was in an awkward embrace with a stranger, practicing the box step. I know, we should have sprung for the private lessons, but … we’re artists.

Despite a lack of formal training, I LOVE to dance and have channeled my inner ballerina, living according to the gospel cliche: “dance like no one is watching.” I won’t sit down at concerts and if I wander upon a spontaneous live music performance (it’s NYC, it happens!), I am dancing, twirling my daughter and bumping butts. So You Think You Can Dance brings me tears of Terms of Endearment caliber. (Am I dating myself with that reference – is Life is Beautiful any better?) At my wedding, I forewarned my guests I would be on the dance floor if they wanted to connect.

I watched a YouTube video to learn how to twerk and my husband finds this all entirely entertaining, happily occupying his front row seat to my contemporary rendition of “Dancing in Front of the Mirror in the Orange Sundress.”

Learning to dance exists towards the top of my Perpetual Life List of Things To Do (aka bucket list). I’m certainly not too old to officially learn how to dance. I’m fit enough and I have the stamina, but it’s hard to justify the prioritization of these non-essentials wants. They get shoved to the bottom of the list.

How do I make time for those “I’ve always wanted to’s” when now is the time for my daughter’s dance lessons, my son’s crew practice, food shopping, laundry, invoices for the business, LIFE? Traditionally you make bucket list before you make a will, but essentially they’re both touching mortality with a stick.

How do I integrate the minutia of life, the things I have to do to keep our lives spinning and existing, with making time to do what I’ve always wanted to do? If these deeply rooted desires were actually fulfilled, perhaps they may trigger a new found happiness. How much less resentment would build from the thankless dinners, toilet cleanings, chauffeuring, if I know in the end I get to dance?

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